Letter to the Editor: Will a new mayor improve pedestrian safety?

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Letter to the Editor: Will a new mayor improve pedestrian safety?
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To the editor:

Alexandria’s election season saw a lot of political posturing on what’s best for our city and while some plans, initiatives and proposals may be open to debate, we can all agree that pedestrian safety can be universally accepted as necessary.

The city currently has two initiatives tackling this issue: Complete the Streets, which aims to complete sidewalks and address any roadway improvements that affect resident safety; and Zero Vision, which is an action plan aimed at eliminating all traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2028. However, despite calls for help, the small community of Strawberry Hill continues to suffer from incomplete sidewalks and speeding “Waze” followers down a street with the neighborhood’s only stop light.

After three years and a neighborhood of highly engaged Alexandria citizens, a 60-foot missing portion of a sidewalk leading to the community’s bus stop was finally installed. But progress stopped there. Despite dozens of accidents at the intersection of Duke and North Early Street, several nearmiss pedestrian incidents around the Strawberry Hill community, and countless calls for help to Mayor Allison Silberberg, Vice Mayor Justin Wilson, the Alexandria Police Department and the city’s Complete the Streets team, sidewalks around the neighborhood remain sporadic and speeders continue to threaten this thriving area of Alexandria.

For those unfamiliar, the Strawberry Hill community represents the best we can hope for in Alexandria’s West End. Redevelopment of dated residential properties, new businesses and an infusion of young working families has the area looking more like one of the coveted Arlington communities. Hopefully our presumptive mayor, Wilson, is thinking strategically about how to nurture such change in Alexandria and how to attract and keep engaged residents committed to improving the community.

The Strawberry Hill community hosts several city-approved, in-home daycares, but parents in the community cannot walk safely to drop off their children. Without sidewalks, mothers and fathers are forced to push strollers on the street, avoiding parked cars and speeding traffic.

Come January, I hope Wilson, who enjoys the pedestrian haven of Del Ray, remembers that his community wasn’t always what it is today – it took collaboration between the city and its residents to provide a safe and enjoyable place to live and work. After all, Wilson’s own website states that he is “focused on making Alexandria a better place to live, work, and raise a family.” I hope so, because the residents of Strawberry Hill are counting on the new mayor to act.

-Maribeth Monge, Alexandria

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