FfxFSS advocates for specific Rt 7 safety improvements that support the Culmore community located between Baileys Crossroads and Seven Corners, one of the most dangerous corridors in Fairfax County for pedestrians and cyclists.

Read the full letter below, and find out how you can get involved:

August 25, 2022
Ms. Houda Ali
Virginia Department of Transportation
Northern Virginia District
4975 Alliance Drive
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Sent via: meetingcomments@vdot.virginia.gov

RE: Comments on Culmore Pedestrian Safety  

Dear Ms. Ali, 

The Fairfax Families for Safe Streets (FfxFSS) would like to submit these comments to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) on recommendations for pedestrian safety improvements in the Culmore community presented at the Aug. 4th public meeting.  

FfxFSS is an all volunteer community based not-for-profit organization that brings the community together to create safe streets for all people to walk and bike, by telling impact stories, educating the general public, tracking and sharing data collected through our “Near Miss Survey App” and educating policymakers about policies and investments that eliminate traffic-related fatalities and injuries in our city.

While we are glad to learn that VDOT and the county are considering needed safety improvements for Route 7 in the Culmore community, we are very concerned that most of the recommendations will take years to implement and that the short term improvements shared during the meeting will do little to save lives now. We ask that you provide more substantive short term improvements now until permanent improvements are in place. Also we strongly urge that the  longer term plans and funding be a priority for VDOT and the county. 

Provide More Substantive and Safer Short-Term Fixes 

The short term improvements completed to date along Route 7 are inadequate and will do very little to improve the safety of people trying to walk along or cross Route 7 before the longer term projects can be implemented.  

  • Temporary Sidewalk Connection Needed

The painted hash marks on the shoulder in front of Liberty Gas Station and Bakersfield Rugs do nothing to keep drivers from striking a pedestrian forced to walk in the road because of the missing sidewalk connection. We urge you to provide a better short-term fix by at least adding flex posts like you did behind the Culmore Plaza or, better yet, jersey barriers to provide a safe connection for pedestrians until the sidewalk can be built. 

  • Improve Lighting Along Route 7 and in Neighborhoods

Lack of adequate lighting was one of the top concerns identified in our community walkability survey. We ask that you provide brighter lighting along Route 7, particularly near bus stops, and into surrounding neighborhoods. 

  • Give Pedestrians a Head Start and More Time to Cross 

We are pleased to learn that more time has been given for pedestrians to cross the street at the Glen Carlyn Road intersection. We ask that you do this at the Glenn Forest Drive intersection too. In addition, we ask that you give pedestrians a head start to cross at these intersections using a leading pedestrian interval. 

Support Speed Study and Lowering the Speed Limit

We are pleased to see that a speed study is underway and support lowering the 40mph speed limit. As VDOT noted during the public meeting, higher travel speeds are known to significantly increase likelihood of death and serious injury when crashes occur.  VDOT performed a similar speed study for the Richmond Highway corridor and rightly considered the land uses, pedestrian activity, and the fact that the corridor is a known high pedestrian crash corridor to support lowering the speed limit. Route 7 from Seven Corners through Bailey’s Crossroads has very similar characteristics and we ask that VDOT weigh these same factors to support a safer, lower speed limit for the corridor. 

Additionally, we ask that you add Speed Feedback Indicator Signs (SFIS) to Route 7 to discourage speeding. SFIS encourage drivers to stay within the speed limit by displaying their current traveling speed alongside the posted speed limit. This can be an effective tool in maintaining safe travel speeds and promoting safety for all road users. 

Extend Safety Improvements Within Corridor

Many of the recommendations for safety improvements shared at the public meeting focus on the Culmore Plaza area, but we want to make sure safety improvements are also being considered between Magnolia Drive and Glenn Forest Drive. We heard significant feedback from residents about safety concerns between Magnolia Avenue and Glen Forest Drive as well. We ask that you ensure intersection improvements are provided to both the Glenn Carlyn Road and Glenn Forest Drive intersections. We also ask that the Culmore Pedestrian Crossing Safety Study be extended down to the Glen Forest Drive intersection to adequately assess crossing needs in the community. 

Intersection Improvements Needed at Both Glen Carlyn Road and Glenn Forest Drive

High visibility crosswalks should be added to all four sides of both the Glen Carlyn Road and the Glen Forest Drive intersections. We are pleased to see this being recommended for the Glen Carlyn Road intersection. We urge you to also add a 4th crosswalk to Glenn Forest Road intersection also. 

Signalized Crossing Needed Between Magnolia Avenue and Glenn Forest Drive

We appreciate that a potential mid-block crossing is being considered at the Culmore Plaza as it would provide a more convenient and safe crossing option for people needing to cross in that area. However, that does not address the need for a safe crossing option between Magnolia Avenue and Glenn Forest Drive where there is also high demand to cross to bus stops, stores and jobs. 

During our walk audit that was held during the afternoon rush hour on May 5, 2022, we saw numerous people of all ages crossing in this location with no marked crosswalk or signal for them to use. Making matters worse, there were many drivers stacked up waiting to turn left onto Route 7 and in the center turn lane of Route 7 attempting to turn off the road. The scene was chaotic and created significant points of conflict for all users.   

We ask that a mid-block crossing be added at the Culmore Plaza and another between Magnolia Avenue and Glenn Forest Drive. This would provide safer crossings for pedestrians and less conflict for drivers in the corridor. 

Sincerely, Phillip Kemelor on behalf of the board for Fairfax Families for Safe Streets (FFXFSS)