Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Belmont Ridge Road crossing

From VDOT: (Photos by Bob Evens, Trail Patorller) In case you were not aware, I wanted to let you know that today we turned on the RRFB (rectangular rapid-flashing beacon) at Belmont Ridge Rd. and the W&OD Trail. Attached is a photo of the device in operation. It is our first RRFB in Loudoun County. The RRFB is designed to flash in a quick alternating pattern when trail users press a button. The project includes flashers at the crosswalk and about 500 feet in advance in both directions, so drivers get plenty of advance warning when a trail user is present. This week we will start a fairly intensive round of field data collection, helping us understand how motorists and trail users react to the new device. The data collection will occur a few additional times during the next year to see what changes occur over time. We will also be able to compare the results with similar data collected after the zig-zag markings were installed in 2009. Following are a few points we want trail users and drivers to know: For trail users: · Trail users need to press the pushbutton to activate the flashing lights. Cyclists usually can press the buttons without dismounting, and they are within convenient reach of pedestrians as well. Studies from other areas have shown that drivers yield to trail users as much as four times as often when lights flash only "on demand". · Trail users should continue to wait for a safe gap in traffic before proceeding across the road. The flashing lights do not guarantee that motorists will stop. For drivers: · When the lights are flashing, drivers can be sure a trail user is nearby, and they should be prepared to yield or encounter stopped vehicles as they approach the crosswalk. Not all trail users will press the button to activate the flashers, so motorists should continue to be alert as they approach the crossing even when the lights are not flashing. Randy Dittberner, P.E., PTOE · Regional Traffic Engineer · Virginia Department of Transportation · Northern Region · 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA, 22030 · 703-259-2353 · randy.dittberner@vdot.virginia.gov