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National Park Service and United States Park Police Launch Memorial Circle Crosswalk Safety Campaign
Arlington, Va. – Today, the National Park Service and United States Park Police announced increased enforcement and educational efforts aimed at drivers, pedestrians and cyclists in and around Memorial Circle. With warmer weather, vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic increases creating a greater potential for collisions. In an effort to eliminate fatal crashes and serious injuries resulting from vehicle/pedestrian and vehicle/bicycle collisions, United States Park Police officers will be on roadways around Memorial Circle to contact drivers who fail to adhere to traffic regulations to include yielding at crosswalks.
“Since 2012, two people have died and numerous people have been injured after being hit by vehicles while attempting to cross Memorial Circle in a crosswalk. This is unacceptable,” George Washington Memorial Parkway Superintendent Alexcy Romero said. “These tragedies are preventable, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to slow down, look up and pay attention. Pedestrians and cyclists need to stop and ensure drivers see them before crossing and drivers must yield to crosswalk users.”
High traffic volumes, speeding vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists who fail to stop before entering the crosswalk and a complex traffic pattern create an increased risk of incidents. Pedestrians and bicyclists have the right of way in the crosswalk, it is the law. Bicyclists are also reminded they must stop at crosswalks before proceeding.
“Safety and compliance with the law is everyone's responsibility, whether you are a pedestrian, a cyclist or a motor vehicle operator," United States Park Police Chief Robert MacLean said. "Educating the community and enforcing the laws are just a couple of tools we use to help promote a safe environment for everybody."
Last week temporary lighted signs went on display throughout the circle reminding drivers to yield to pedestrians and cyclists.
Tips for driving safely
- Plan your next move and use your turn signals
- Focus on the road – You are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash if you are texting while driving, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration
- Always look for pedestrians and cyclists when attempting a turn
- Make eye contact with a pedestrian before proceeding through a crosswalk
- Never pass a vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk—assume they are stopped for a pedestrian
Tips for walking safely
- Use the sidewalk
- Wear bright clothing at night so you can easily be seen
- Use marked crosswalks
- Watch for traffic even in a marked crosswalk – make eye contact with drivers who are approaching
- Don’t be a distracted walker—Don't text and walk, turn off headphones and pay attention when crossing the street
Tips for biking safely
- Wear light colored outer clothing, preferably with reflective strips, and a helmet
- Use a bright, white light on the front of your bike and a red reflector on the back
- When on the sidewalk or trail travel slowly and yield to pedestrians
- Be predictable - avoid sudden turns or lane changes
While this effort is unrelated, the National Park Service is currently conducting an Environmental Assessment of Memorial Circle in an effort to develop a comprehensive long-term solution to safety concerns.
About the George Washington Memorial Parkway: The 4th most visited place in the National Park System, the George Washington Memorial Parkway is a scenic roadway honoring the nation’s first president, that protects and preserves cultural and natural resources along the Potomac River from Great Falls to Mount Vernon, and is part of a comprehensive system of parks, parkways and recreational areas surrounding the nation’s capital.
About the United States Park Police: The USPP supports the mission of the National Park Service by providing law enforcement to safeguard lives, protect national treasures and symbols of democracy, and preserve the natural and cultural resources entrusted to the care of the National Park Service. USPP officers are located in the Washington, New York, and San Francisco metropolitan areas. The force was created by President George Washington in 1791.