Winter Weather Chaos Forces Risky Pedestrian Behavior

This season’s winter weather storms have put Virginia pedestrians in danger as they attempt to get around neighborhood streets.

One Arlington resident, John Schuster, explained the effects of the snow on his daily commute. “I walk down the middle of the street…right now I’m trying to do that safely and avoid cars, which is not easy to do.”

Clarendon and other surrounding communities are facing two related problems this winter season. Many neighborhood sidewalks haven’t been cleared. This is usually the responsibility of home, business, or property owners to clear the sidewalks directly in the premises. The other barrier for pedestrians like Schuster is that many street corners have large piles of snow, ice, and slush. With the extremely cold temperatures of this year’s Polar Vortex storms, this build up has frozen and is extremely difficult to break down with a standard snow shovel.

Pedestrians who are forced to walk in the streets must not only look out for cars traveling on the street, but they also must look at where their feet are going. Some puddles are deep, and there is black ice that is difficult to spot if one isn’t looking out for it. These ice patches put pedestrians at risk of having a slip-and-fall accident directly on the roadway.

This can be hazardous for motorists traveling on these slick snow-and-ice-covered roads. At dark, having a clear view of a pedestrian can be especially tricky. Motorists must travel more slowly and pay extra close attention to those walking in the roads. Likewise, those traveling by foot must take extra precautions to be seen by drivers.

Community members are urging neighbors to clear their sidewalks promptly and to clear all the way to the street corners. This will help provide a place for pedestrians to safely walk throughout Arlington County’s neighborhoods.

“If plowing the streets are a priority, then clearing the sidewalks should be a priority as well,” explained resident Rachel Rosenberg.

At Lewis & Tompkins, we’d like to encourage all pedestrians attempting to travel by foot this winter to stay safe and avoid walking in the roadways if possible. When limited driver visibility, hazardous winter weather, and slippery roads combine, pedestrians are put at a greater risk of being hit by a car, truck, or other vehicle. If you must walk on the road, always walk against traffic and be sure to wear brightly colored clothing so motorists can see you easily and give you space you need to stay safe.

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