The recent Facebook Poll: "What do you think about the new no left turn policy from Water Street onto Mass. Ave.?" resulted in the following breakdown of respondents:
In favor of the new no left turn policy
Against the new no left turn policy
If you voted in favor of the new no left turn policy you are in the majority. However, both sides presented thoughtful and valid arguments.
Those in favor of trying out the new no left turn policy overwhelmingly believed it would increase the safety of pedestrians in the crosswalk. Eastbound traffic has poor visibility and many respondents had been witness to accidents in this area, and could attest to the risky nature of the intersection.
Those against the policy generally believed the increase in traffic and inconvenience would negate the potential upside. Drivers not familiar with the area are more likely get lost, and some might see the library parking lot as a turnaround option - thereby creating more hazards and backups elsewhere.
Back in January, 2011, the Transportation Advisory Committee formed a working group to collect data, analyze, and study this intersection. As a result, it has implemented the no left turn policy for a six month trial in order to determine the effectiveness of the decision. One reason for the trial is the following:
"Arlington Police data from 1/1/2007 to 11/10/2010 shows 14 crashes with four involving pedestrians hit in the crosswalk. Averages are over 3 auto crashes and 1 pedestrian crash per year."
We all know driver attention is not at its highest - with cell phones, texting, eating and other distractions - and a tricky intersection can add to the perils of being a pedestrian. But at what cost to drivers who frequent the area and residents who might see increased traffic on backroads?
As always, the good people of Arlington offer their opinions with alternative suggestions. Here is a sampling of suggestions that came out of the poll:
· Remove the crosswalk at the library entirely. There are two highly visible crosswalks within a block.
· Raise the sidewalk. Move it east (or west) by 10 feet to give it a better view.
· Make Court Street one way going the other direction - that would eliminate the need for the no left turn.
· Implement a traffic light (although a counter argument states that a poorly timed traffic light could back up traffic, grid locking the intersection).
· Prohibit turns from 7:00 a.m. to midnight (counter argument states the consistency of the regulation may be more important than inconvenience).
Thank you to everyone who participated in the poll. We hope you'll follow us on Facebook as we offer other opportunities to interact and have an opinion on Arlington-related issues!