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Be alert or risk a ticket

By Christy Goodman

[This post has been updated]

Arlington County police issued 33 tickets and 50 warnings to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists at its highest-volume intersection, North Lynn Street and Wilson Boulevard, on Tuesday morning -- and more will be coming.

Police throughout the Washington region are stepping up enforcement in order to reduce pedestrian and cyclist fatalities on roadways as part of the annual Street Smart campaign.

Last year, there were 79 pedestrian and cyclist fatalities across the D.C. metropolitan area, officials said.

"I think the bottom-line message is to pay attention. That goes for everybody," said Douglas Scott, Arlington County police chief.

There were 103 pedestrian-related accidents that resulted in four fatalities in Arlington in 2009. So far this year, there have been 73 accidents with one fatality.

Scott said he will have additional officers stationed at selected high-volume locations, in addition to regular patrols, over the next few weeks to increase awareness.

About 17 pedestrians and cyclists are killed in the District each year, said D.C. police Cmdr. Hilton Burton. This summer, the District increased fines and penalties for not yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks to $250 and 3 points. If a driver hits a pedestrian, that fine jumps to $500 and 6 points.

Officials reminded pedestrians and cyclists to wear reflective clothing at night to be visible to drivers, to always use crosswalks and obey signals. Drivers were warned to be aware and to yield to pedestrians and cyclists and to slow down.

"Speed matters highly," said Mary Hynes, an Arlington County Board member.

A pedestrian struck by a car going 25 mph has a 5 percent chance of dying. That number increases to 40 percent if the vehicle is traveling at 30 mph, she said.

"This is your warning. We are out there and we are writing tickets," said Thomas Didone, captain of the Montgomery County Police Department.

Street Smart, now in its eighth year, is sponsored by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

By Christy Goodman  | November 9, 2010; 2:51 PM ET
Categories:  Biking, Congestion, District, Driving, Maryland, Montgomery County, Northern Virginia, Prince George's County, Traffic Safety  
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i've always wondered...can you ticket a ped or bicyclist who doesn't have an ID on them?

Posted by: mediajunky | November 9, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Having been pulled over by a policeman for running a light on my bike (in truth, I jumped a half-second early because the sun was in my eyes), they ask you for your ID. Every adult and most minors biking on city streets carry ID. I'm not sure what would have happened if I'd refused.

But I was at fault, and he wrote me a warning because I have a spotless record. It could have been a ticket.

Posted by: krickey7 | November 9, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

False equivalency

Posted by: TheBoreaucrat | November 9, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad they're writing tickets to pedestrians and cyclists as well as motorists. I've seen too many pedestrians jaywalk where they don't need to, or just step off the curb without looking. Yes, drivers need to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, but pedestrians need to realize they need to obey laws themselves.

Posted by: mensa58 | November 9, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Window dressing. Pass a strict liability presumptive standard for injuring or killing vulnerable road users, and i'll pay attention. This is the traffic control equivalent of carrying your mini shampoos in plastic baggies on the plane.

Posted by: TheBoreaucrat | November 9, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

I like to think I'm a pretty well versed commuter: I drive sometimes, I take the bus sometimes, I take the metro sometimes, and I bike sometimes. Too many people don't seem to realize that being stupid can back up traffic for blocks, and respect needs to work both ways. I think pedestrians should wait for the light, and even if there's gridlock they shouldn't start crossing until they have the light; and I think cars shouldn't stop in the middle of intersections. Cyclists shouldn't run red lights (no matter how much momentum they have) and cars shouldn't try to push them out of lanes.

Posted by: anoel | November 9, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

How is backing up traffic for blocks my problem? The delays are BEHIND me and I am more important than the people who are BEHIND me. What is important is that I can get where I'm going a few seconds earlier.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 10, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Predator strikes for blocking the box. You guys are traffic terrorists.

Posted by: krickey7 | November 10, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

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