WALKArlington Pedestrian Initiative

Arlington, Virginia

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC)


Arlington is a highly-developed county near to the District of Columbia, and is therefore quickly becoming more urban. WALKArlington is a countywide comprehensive pedestrian program that involves infrastructure improvements, education campaigns, enforcement, aesthetic amenities, and integration with future plans and existing community programs. Included here are the measures taken to improve safety.


Several measures were taken to improve the pedestrian environment in Arlington. High visibility fluorescent yellow-green pedestrian crossing warning signs were installed at unsignalized crossings. In some instances they were accompanied by fluorescent yellow-green U-post inserts to further highlight the crosswalk. The costs were approximately $120 for sign replacement and $20 per U-post insert.

As a part of the WALKArlington initiative, the Arlington County Board approved a new ordinance where motorists who fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians could be fined from $100 to $500. Two-hundred signs warning of the potential fine were installed at a cost of about $110 per sign.

Solar-powered pedestrian warning flashers, which resemble train crossing flashers, were employed to highlight mid-block pedestrian crossings. The flashers were installed just above a fluorescent pedestrian sign and are activated in one of two ways. In areas with predictable peak pedestrian traffic, the flashers can be programmed to the time of day. The flashers are otherwise activated by passive microwave pedestrian detectors. The complete cost for such a system is around $10,000.

An in-road flashing light system was installed at a mid-block crosswalk at the Ballston Mall, a high-pedestrian traffic area. It consists of Light Emitting Diodes (LED) embedded in the pavement and a passive laser-based detection system. The bollards at either end of the crosswalk house the passive detection system activated by pedestrians passing through the laser beam. The flashing LEDs in the pavement are then activated to warn approaching traffic. The total cost of the project came to $20,000.

Crosswalks were highlighted through special paving treatments in various locations around Arlington. Treatments included concrete paver crosswalks, asphalt imprint crosswalks, and thermoplastic imprints, all of which provide texture and color changes to calm traffic and aesthetically highlight the crosswalk to drivers.

Image of several of the improvements made as part of the program.

The final technique used to improve the pedestrian environment was pedestrian signals at approximately 95 percent of the 241 traffic signals in Arlington County. Fifty of these were tested with countdown pedestrian signals as part of a trial study in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration. Each countdown device costs approximately $800 including installation.

Funding for these projects was provided by a partnership between the Traffic Engineering and Planning Divisions of the Arlington County Department of Public Works, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Arlington County Police Department, and the Arlington County Board.


Specific measures are yet to be evaluated for their performance. It is hoped that the initiatives will facilitate more walking among Arlington residents and reduce the number of pedestrian crashes and fatalities.


Jose Thommana
Traffic Engineering Division, Arlington County Department of Public Works
2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 706
Arlington, VA 22201
(703) 228-3723

Image Source

Institute of Transportation Engineers Pedestrian Project Awards Application. Traffic Engineering Division, Arlington County Department of Public Works.

Filed in: Engineering, Case Studies

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