To the editor:
I write in response to the letter, “Fact-based decision making” in your Feb. 28 edition. In the name of safety, bicycling advocates have successfully lobbied the city to narrow major roads, reduce speed limits to uncomfortable levels and install lightly used bike lanes on major city thoroughfares. They continue their fight, citing that five people died on Alexandria’s roads in 2018.
However, a review of these incidents reveals no citywide pattern of traffic fatalities that Vision Zero advocates use to justify their movement. In March, a 34-year-old man from Haymarket died at 2:30 a.m. when his motorcycle struck a light pole on King Street west of I-395. In May, another motorcyclist lost control traveling southbound on Patrick Street in Old Town. He died when he careened into oncoming traffic that was stopped at the red light at Wilkes Street.
That same weekend, a Virginia state trooper discovered an overturned vehicle just after midnight. It had crashed into a Jersey barrier at the end of an Eisenhower Connector exit ramp. The 22-year-old driver and his 20-year-old companion died at the scene. The trooper determined that they had been traveling at an excessive speed.
In October, a 47-year-old Alexandria man drove into a barrier and hit an RV on the inner loop of the beltway in Alexandria at around 1:20 a.m. He then exited his car, was hit by oncoming traffic and died at the scene.
Some other tragic accidents in recent years: In August 2016, a 92- year-old motorist struck and killed a restaurant worker sweeping in an alley in Old Town. In May 2016, a cyclist who was legally crossing Duke Street was struck by an elderly motorist who ran the red light at West Taylor Run.
In December 2016, a 77-year-old Montana woman struck and killed a pedestrian at Mt. Vernon and West Glebe. In May 2017, a 79-year-old Fairfax man ran a red light at Quaker and Duke causing a major accident in which he died. A three-year-old boy was killed on Executive Avenue in September 2017 when he re-entered the road where he was playing to retrieve his sandal.
Advocates of bicycle mobility continue to use the number of traffic deaths in Alexandria as evidence that we should keep narrowing major roads and install more bike lanes, despite federal and state statistics that show Alexandria’s traffic death rate to be 84 percent lower than the national average.
Judging by the nature of recent fatal accidents here, there is no definitive pattern of safety issues that Vision Zero projects should address. Perhaps all we can learn from these incidents is that motorcycles, elderly motorists and post-midnight reckless drivers are often the cause of Alexandria road fatalities.
-Bill Rossello, Alexandria