Officials work to make walking safer in Arlington County


New device encourages pedestrian safety

ARLINGTON, Va. (WDVM) — With two fatal pedestrian accidents just last week, Arlington is working to make walking around the county safer.

The rectangular rapid flashing beacon, or RRFB, is a high-intensity yellow light, mounted below the pedestrian warning sign, adjacent to a crosswalk. They encourage drivers to yield as well as help pedestrians signal to drivers that they are about to cross. The first beacon was installed during a pilot program five years ago. Now there are about 14 RRFBs placed throughout the county.

When a person on foot approaches the crosswalk, he or she presses a button which activates a set of lights and signals to drivers to yield to pedestrians.

The existing RRFBs were dispersed in different area around the County such as the intersection at Lee Highway and Kenmore Street. Lee Highway is five lanes wide at this location and carries 23,000 vehicles per day with a speed limit of 35 mph. Both the County’s and VDOT’s standards indicate that an unimproved crosswalk in a location like this would be unacceptable and unsafe, so there was a clear case for improvements to be made.

“We evaluate the roadway characteristics such as the number of lanes and the presence of a median. We evaluate the speed of the vehicles on the roadway and we evaluate the average daily speed on the roadway so how many cars come through,” said Jacob Smith, Intern for Arlington County’s roadway design team.

The county expects 20 additional RRFB’s to be constructed within the next year.

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