Monday, June 16, 2014

Norfolk cyclist struck on ped bridge: Police say nothing they can do - Update June 17

Update 17 June 2014: VDOT implements new safety measures on Berkley Bridge. See update info below.

Kelley Howell of Norfolk was riding her bike across the Elizabeth River on the Berkley Bridge when a vehicle approached her going about 15mph. The vehicle struck her as it passed. She captured it all on video.

When she contacted the police, this is what happened according to The Blaze:
Though she and the driver exchanged information, Howell told WVEC later when she reported the issue to the authorities, she was told they wouldn’t be investigating the incident.

“I said, ‘I have video if you want to see,’ and he said, ‘Oh, why do you have video?’ And I explained that I use it to educate, and he said, ‘Oh maybe you were the person who caused the accident,’” Howell told the news station of her interaction later that day with a Norfolk Police Department officer.

Howell said the officer could not investigate the case because he was not called to the scene at the time. Howell told the Virginian-Pilot that neither she nor the driver had a cellphone at the time to report the incident to the police.
VDOT issued the following press release, Berkley Bridge Accident Under Investigation:
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is investigating the traffic incident that occurred on the Berkley Bridge pedestrian access pathway, Saturday, June 14, involving a motorist and a bicyclist.

The accident occurred when a bridge tender was en route for a shift change. The pathway is used by employees for this purpose and signs are posted in both directions advising caution and to be aware of vehicles using the pathway.

VDOT is working with its contractor to determine the factors involved in the incident and to ensure that proper policy and procedures were followed. The driver of the vehicle has been placed on administrative leave.

Based on the outcome of the investigation, necessary steps will be implemented to enhance safe and secure pedestrian and bicyclist access at the Berkley Bridge.
Motor vehicles travel on the W&OD Trail on a regular basis. When cyclists approach they almost always stop and pull over. They travel at a very slow pace, usually less than bicycle speed. It's inexcusable that the motorist on the Berkely Bridge was traveling so fast, and that he didn't stop when the cyclist approached. VDOT needs to immediately implement new policies to protect users of this trail. In the video you'll see three kids traveling in the opposite direction. Imagine what would have happened had the motorist approached them at speed and expected them to get out of the way.

Update 17 June 2014: Thanks to VDOT for taking quick action. Today VDOT implemented new safety measures on the Berkley Bridge. From their news release Berkley Bridge Pedestrian Pathway Access Safety Measures Implemented
NORFOLK– Effective today, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has implemented immediate measures to enhance safety for public use of the Berkley Bridge pedestrian access pathway.

VDOT conducted a review following an incident this past weekend on the pedestrian access pathway involving a bicyclist. Based on the review, VDOT has modified procedures for access to the bridge, which restrict bridge tenders from utilizing vehicles for shift changes. Bridge tenders must now walk or utilize a motorized cart. When a vehicle is required, it will be accompanied by a walking spotter to identify any potential safety issues.

In addition to the improved safety procedures, VDOT has scheduled the installation of traffic control devices to deter motor vehicles from entering the pathway. The devices will not interfere with pedestrian and bicyclist access. VDOT will continue to evaluate further safety measures that may include additional signage and other traffic control devices and/or markings to provide optimum safety for the public.

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