Falls Church City Police Comment on Stop Signs and W&OD Trail
So there was this letter to the Editor in the Falls Church News Press today complaining about bikers not stopping at Stop signs crossing the W&OD Trail. The police made a response which follows. Here is the link but I'll cut and paste the text as well.
My husband and I have talked about the bike path crossings for the last year or so when we come to one of the numerous path crossings in our area. They are clearly marked stop on the path, as a bicycle or a pedestrian approaches a street crossing. He feels that the responsibility is that of the user of the path. I have commented that since so many people do stop on the street the people on the path ignore the "stop" signage. So I felt that we need to at least slow down to see what is going to happen and probably stop. He feels that my approach is going to cause more problems because it encourages the path users to keep on going. He is right. We need to be consistent. The sign on the bike path says stop. Unless the streets are marked otherwise, the cars and bicycles on the street have the right of way.
(Ed. Note - Captain Richard Campbell of the Falls Church Police Department had this response concerning right of way on the bicycle path:
"It depends.... It is a little different for bicycles and pedestrians.
"For bicycles, right-of-way goes to vehicles on the street, generally. Bicycles are, by law, considered vehicles. As such, they are required to stop prior to entering any highway for any reason (including crossing a highway, whether it's a marked crossing or not).
"For pedestrians, the law can be a little more confusing. Under VA code 46.2-924, a vehicle must stop for a pedestrian crossing in a 'clearly marked crosswalk...' I believe, certainly within the City, that there is a clearly marked crosswalk at every intersection of the bike path and a public roadway. Having said that, the same code section says that 'No pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic.'
"The bottom line is that a bicycle or a pedestrian is no match for 4,000 lbs of metal. We all need to be cautious when crossing a highway regardless of what the laws are regarding right-of-way. ")