Seven Corners Pedestrian Bridge - One Year Later

The pedestrian bridge near Seven Corners in Fairfax County opened in May of 2009. Last year I posted twice regarding this feature (here and here).

I recently went back to visit and do another count of bridge users. Here are the results, along with the counts from 2009. Each of these represents one hour of counting during the middle of the day, and the weather was similarly pleasant on all three days.

Seven Corners Stats

Based on this simple count, it appears that traffic is about the same on the bridge, with roughly half the observed pedestrians and cyclists crossing at Patrick Henry. This seems sensible to me: the bridge would represent a long detour for many people whose destinations are closer to Patrick Henry Drive. For this count there was only one person who made the mad dash across Route 50. That is fewer than before, although my statistical sample is pretty small.

I find it surprising that few cyclists use the bridge. Perhaps more use it during commuting hours. My counts have been in the middle of the day.

Early problems with the bridge have been mostly resolved. The trash cans appear to be regularly emptied and the graffiti is almost all painted over. The biggest problem is that the stairwells are used by loiterers--presumably at night (they were not there while I was there). They leave behind beverage containers (alcoholic and non) and the stench of urine. For future designers, I might recommend a more open architecture that would allow visibility from all angles. The ramps, which are open, are nice and clean and feel safe. The stairwells, which are mostly closed in, have litter and feel a bit less comfortable--probably much more so at night.

All in all, this bridge is a worthwhile complement to the transportation infrastructure in the area. I use it myself, and find it to be quicker and safer than my previous alternatives. However, much more needs to be done. As with last year, the walking routes to and from the bridge are completely insufficient--essentially nonexistent. The crossings at Seven Corners itself need to be redesigned to accommodate pedestrians. The busy crossing at Patrick Henry is still dangerous. And of course, the entire area could use a long-term strategic plan, so that opportunities to improve it are not missed as various development and redevelopment occurs in the area.

(cross posted on Greater Greater Washington)

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