Friday, April 12, 2013

Falls Church Patch Reported

Now that spring weather is finally here, many people are taking to the W&OD Trail on foot and bicycle. With more than two million users traveling along the trail annually, there are several chances for accidents. In August, a cyclist traveling along the trail through the City of Falls Church was injured when he collided with a car where the trail and Great Falls Street intersect. Falls Church City Police Officer James Brooks said the cyclist didn’t stop at the intersection and was determined to be at fault. The cyclist wasn’t severely injured and Brooks hopes no one cycling along the trail ever is. “If I’m here for an hour or so, I can give out four to five tickets to cyclists for failing to stop at the intersections,” Brooks said. Brooks is one of the city’s four certified bicycle officers. The group patrols around the Eden Center and throughout the city including along the portion of the W&OD Trail that goes through Falls Church. According to Falls Church City law, a cyclist can be given a $25 ticket for biking with headphone earplugs in both ears, speeding or not wearing a helmet if you are 14-years-old or younger, among other violations. Under state law, cyclists can be fined for not stopping at a stop sign intersecting with a road. There are no official records of accidents along the trail. Dozens of cyclists zipped along the W&OD Trail in Falls Church Wednesday, most of them stopping where the trail intersects with Grove Avenue. One cyclist continued through the intersection without stopping and would have continued on her journey if not for Brooks stopping her to give her a warning. “The reason we ask them to stop is for safety,” Brooks said. “There is some confusion because they don’t realize they need to come to a complete stop.” Karl Mohle, park manager for the W&OD Trail – which is owned and operated by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority – said there are about 75 people in the volunteer trail patrol – all from the Friends of the W&OD Trail – that are out daily enforcing rules and helping with minor bicycle repairs. These days, Mohle said the trail is filled with people out enjoying the weather. He said people should be courteous of others and traffic laws while using the trail. “Try to go easy, a lot of people are in a rush,” Mohle said. “People want to go out after being cooped up all winter.” For City of Falls Church laws for cyclists, click here. For statewide laws for cyclists, click here. Related Topics: City of Falls Church Police Department, W&OD Trail, W&OD Trail patrol, and northern virginia regional park authority