Sunday, September 29, 2013

NVRPA to convene a working group to discuss W&OD Trail safety

The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) owns and manages the W&OD Trail. Because Fairfax has so few good bicycle facilities, cyclists are drawn to the trail. As the trail gets more crowded, safety concerns have increased.

Trail safety was one of the topics discussed at the most recent NVRPA Board meeting. After that meeting, it was announced that NVRPA will be convening a working group to develop safety recommendations.

Below is a letter from NVRPA Executive Director Paul Gilbert sent to FABB, WABA, the Friends of the W&OD Trail, and others:
As you are well aware, over the last year there has been an increased focus on safety-related issues on the W&OD Trail.  A new law was passed in Richmond [Section D] that will allow local governments to enact ordinances related to the stop signs on the trail, and there has been an uptick in local law enforcement attention to the issue of safe crossing of intersections.

With goals of enhancing safety and promoting communication and understanding among the cycling community, law enforcement and local transportation planners, NVRPA will be facilitating a working group (AKA task force or advisory committee) with representatives from these interest groups to work on the subject of safety on the W&OD and to develop recommendations.  We will be bringing in professional facilitators with experience in conflict resolution to help engineer a productive process.

Please do not volunteer for this group just yet, since we want to start by selecting a facilitator and then working with them on the structure, process and size of the group.  Our goal would be to have this group begin meeting sometime this winter.

Our hope is that this process will result in enhanced safety on the trail and better understanding among the parties.
There has been extensive discussion about the STOP signs on the W&OD Trail. A recent Virginia Attorney General opinion stated that "It is my opinion that law enforcement officers may enforce against trail users stop signs installed on the W&OD Trail if such signs represent a rule or regulation of the NVRPA." We have written about this issue extensively in the past. We're glad that we may have an opportunity to discuss this and many related issues in the working group.

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