Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Why pedestrians 'interfere' with traffic in Washington's suburbs (video)

February 28, 2011 - 02:20 PM
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On Feb. 17, two young men were hit by cars in Woodbridge as they tried to cross Jefferson Davis Highway in separate instances. Both were flown by helicopter to local hospitals, and both were ultimately cited by police for "careless interference with traffic," since they'd tried to cross the highway outside of designated crosswalks. 

As a police spokesman told TBD, "You can't cross the street anywhere you want, especially on Route 1."

TBD friend Jay Mallin was so intrigued by the "interference with traffic" charge that he headed out to Woodbridge with his video camera to have a look at the car-pedestrian dynamic along the highway. The fine result is above.

As Mallin explains so well, there are reasons people choose to "interfere" with cars along roads like Route 1 in Virginia (as well as in Chevy Chase and Bethesda, which he also visits). There simply aren't many legal opportunities to cross the road in such places. Crosswalks in Washington suburbs can feel prohibitively far apart for someone who's got to be somewhere. If the bus stop is right across the highway, many of us won't trek a half-mile or mile out of the way just to get a legitimate walk signal.

And that's why no amount of "interference" citations will prevent people from illegally crossing Route 1. They'll just keep jaywalking, because unfortunately it's the logical thing to do.

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