Street Safety Starts with Design

headshot for henry dunbar director of operations active transportation arlington va
Henry Dunbar Tweet Us @WalkArlington@WalkArlington April 27, 2018

Henry Dunbar is the Director of Operations for Active Transportation. He is a year-round bike commuter and wants to make it easy for everyone to get around by whatever mode they choose, except driving alone which should be harder.

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Design is the foundation for making streets safe for all street users, including pedestrians and cyclists. The Pedestrian Advisory Committee and League of Cycling Instructors attended a workshop to learn about the intersection of engineering, education, and engagement and safety.

Pedestrians and cyclist often advocate for the same things when it comes to street design which led to a recent workshop about street safety.

One of the many messages conveyed at a recent two-part workshop on pedestrian safety brought together members of Arlington’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee (PAC) and 16 League Cycling Instructor (LCI) candidates from across Northern Virginia. This course was part of a grant to promote bicycle and pedestrian safety and was administered by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission.

Engineering, Education & Engagement

Arlington County’s Street Design Engineer Team Supervisor, Dan Nabors, led this course which covered key issues like land use, street connectivity, and access management and how they all affect pedestrian safety. He further focused on the “3 E’s”: engineering, education, and engagement to make Arlington’s streets even safer. The topics covered basic planning and design, crossing principles and laws (primarily VA laws), engineering, communicating safety measures, collecting data, and getting stakeholders involved.

Where Nabors and his team are able to implement these principles on Arlington’s streets  mobility for all travel modes is accommodated, including for pedestrians and cyclists. For example, adding a bike lane to a street can have the added benefit of improving the street’s walkability by separating car traffic from walkers and slowing traffic speed at the same time.

Learning on the Streets

The group took a brief field trip around several blocks in Rosslyn to see the accommodations in action, including the new protected bike lane on Wilson Boulevard among other recent design changes. One of the highlights of the walk was being able to have a perspective of both a pedestrian and cyclists while visiting several intersections along Washington Boulevard that do not have signals at the crosswalks and the dangers associated with having to cross a multi-lane road.

Get Involved

After two sessions, both groups of safety advocates had a better understanding of the basic principles of design, how these usually can benefit users of both modes, and a deeper knowledge of how they can work with citizens, staff, and elected officials to make streets better for everyone.

Learn more about upcoming projects and advocate for safer streets in Arlington by attending the monthly Pedestrian Advisory Committee meetings. Visit for a list of meeting dates.

Photo Credit:

Sam Kittner/

  • Lita Arnold says:

    Hello, I read above that there is a new protected bike lane on Wilson Blvd. near Rosslyn. Where can I learn more about it and other protected bike lanes? Is there a single webpage that lists where they are located? It would be nice if Arlington County developed a system of connected protected bike lanes and off road trails. This would help to reduce having to ride on unprotected streets, even those with designated bike lanes (which are not always safe).

    • Katy Lang says:

      Hi Lita, thank you for your comment. has some great resources on bike lanes around Arlington and other types of bike infrastructure. The first protected bike lanes in Arlington were installed in 2014 on S Hayes Street and Eads Street in Pentagon City. You may also want to check out the Bicycle Comfort Level Map (, which highlights the stress-free ways to get around Arlington by bike – as you mentioned, having a network of comfortable places to ride is key!

      • Lita Arnold says:

        Katy, just wanted to say thank you for guiding me to the Bicycle Comfort Level Map. My husband and I studied it for a while and decided that we’d be better off just driving our bikes to a public parking area adjacent to the Mount Vernon trail and riding on a calm day when most people are at work. We are retirees and very much appreciate the many options that Arlington offers.


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