My public comments to Arlington County Board re: Bollards

On May 19, I attended the Arlington County Board meeting and made comments during the public comment period.  Each commenter is allotted two minutes, so I had to keep my remarks short.

(For more details and photos, see my recent post on this issue)

Here is the text of what I said:

My name is Steve Offutt, and I wanted to bring to the board’s attention recent activity by the parks department that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
In the last few weeks, numerous bollards have been installed on trails in the County.  I know personally of six new ones within less than one mile of my house in Dominion Hills.
Bollards are those posts that one sees installed near trail intersections with streets.  They represent a significant hazard to trail users, and can cause severe injury.  The purpose for bollards, if needed at all, is to deter motor vehicles from entering the trail. 
Four have been installed on the new bridge connecting Madison Manor with EFC.  This bridge is at the intersection of two trails—no street—so there is no reason for bollards here.  One of them shows signs of being struck by a cyclist, so someone may have already been injured by them. 
Similarly, a bollard was just placed on the 4MR trail by Dominion Hills Park.  This is my neighborhood and there has not been a bollard there for at least ten years, and I am not aware of any trail encroachments, so it seems needless, hazardous and a waste of taxpayer dollars to place it here. 
From what I have gathered, these installations are being ordered without input from county transportation staff who have cycling expertise nor any community input
The Federal Highway Administration provides guidance on bollards.  I quote here from their guidance:
Even "properly" installed bollards constitute a serious and potentially fatal safety hazard  . .. . For these reasons, bollards should never be a default treatment, and should not be used unless there is a documented history of intrusion by unauthorized cars, trucks, or other vehicles.
Unjustified bollards can create liability exposure. Trail managers should consider whether or not they increase their liability if they install bollards or other barriers.
Since there is no history of intrusion, these bollards are likely to be considered as “unjustified “ in a court of law, exposing the County to legal risk.
I would like to request that the Board instruct staff to immediately cease installation of any additional bollards until a consistent and acceptable policy for location and design that assures the highest level of safety for our citizens who use these trails is in place.  I would also like to recommend that the Board instruct staff to remove the bollards that have been recently installed until such policy is in place.
Thank you.
My comments were well received.  Member Jay Fisette engaged the County Manager and essentially instructed her to look into it, halting further installations until there was a better understanding of the issue.  Libby  Garvey spoke with me personally during a break to learn more about the issue.

I am hopeful now that it is on their radar screen.


2 comments:

  1. +1. Thanks for championing this issue for us DC-area cyclists!

    ReplyDelete