To the editor:
I live on a small cul-de-sac off of Seminary Road and use the road several times every day as either a driver, walker, cyclist or simply a resident. The new Seminary Road is beneficial to me and my neighborhood. We are able to live with greater safety no matter how we use the road.
We are people who live here, not just drive through to some other location. I am thankful for the new configuration for many reasons. Here are a few:
• As a driver, I am able to turn off my street and onto Seminary Road with greater visibility. When I drive home in the evening during rush hour traffic, I use the center turn-lane and safely turn off of Seminary. Traffic flows freely in the right lane and there is no risk of being rear-ended.
• As a pedestrian, I am able to enjoy quieter and much safer conditions as I am no longer walking right against traffic. The bicycle lanes provide buffers from traffic that previously far exceeded the posted speed limit. I make use of the crosswalk to safely cross Seminary Road. The pedestrian refuge island provides a brief waiting spot that is safe until the cross-traffic stops. An added benefit is that the reduced noise – a result of traffic actually going 25 mph – makes it possible to have a conversation with those alongside whom I walk.
• As a cyclist, I feel safe on Seminary Road. I connect to Janney’s Lane and Howard/Braddock depending on where I am heading. These new lanes enable access to places such as Old Town and Four Mile Run and W&OD trails. While not all are dedicated cycling lanes, each segment builds and connects to other segments.
Prior to the reconfiguration, even as an experienced cyclist, I was afraid of distracted and speeding drivers when I cycled on Seminary. I would have avoided Seminary altogether if I had a choice, however given where I live this was not an option. I am looking forward to longer days and warmer weather when I will make even greater use of these lanes.
• As a resident, this reconfiguration has made my neighborhood feel more like a community and less like a thoroughfare. Even just doing work outside is more enjoyable as the noise level from Seminary Road has significantly reduced.
On a daily basis I see and hear emergency vehicles using Seminary Road – they are able to safely and efficiently get through traffic. While I recognize this statement is anecdotal in nature, we haven’t seen any evidence from AFD or Inova that states issues with emergency vehicle access on Seminary.
Furthermore, I have yet to see any significant delays or traffic jams as a result of the new configuration. While I have personally had slight delays when turning left onto Seminary during rush hour, this has been a small price to pay for the increased safety and benefits mentioned above.
Most importantly, nearly all of this derives from the fact that traffic on Seminary is now moving close to the posted 25 mph speed limit. With traffic flowing at 25 mph, it is safe to drive, walk and cycle on Seminary. A reconfiguration of the road may not have been necessary had drivers complied with the 25 mph speed limit in the first place.
Unfortunately, the previous design of two through lanes in each direction did not naturally encourage driving at the posted speed. The new Seminary Road configuration creates conditions for drivers to comply with the speed limit. As such it makes it a much safer and more enjoyable road to drive, walk, cycle and live on.
-Eileen Boettcher, Alexandria