Crosswalks 101

Page updated on Jun 8, 2017 at 2:09 PM

Crosswalks are a simple and often overlooked component of any city’s transportation infrastructure. Safe crosswalks support all other modes of transportation – transit, bicycling and cars. A crosswalk is defined as any portion of a roadway that is distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing.

When crosswalks are marked, they are the only legal crossings at that intersection. At intersections where there are no stop signs or signals, a marked crosswalk may or may not exist. The right for a pedestrian to cross still exists in either case. State law allows pedestrians to cross unless prohibitive signs are posted.

Crosswalk Law
Drivers in the Commonwealth of Virginia must yield to pedestrians that are legally in a crosswalk. However, the existence of a crosswalk does not require motorists to stop for pedestrians waiting to cross the street.

Crosswalks in Alexandria
The City of Alexandria currently uses three types of crosswalk markings or styles. The minimum width of a crosswalk is ten (10) feet, and many crosswalks are wider at crossings with high volumes of pedestrians.

The most common crosswalk marking is two solid parallel lines. These markings are used at most traffic lights and at lower volume pedestrian crossings. At crossings where higher volumes of pedestrians are expected, a high-visibility ladder style crosswalk marking is used. The City occasionally uses imprinted asphalt crosswalks in residential areas or commercial districts on streets where traffic volume is low.

Where does the City of Alexandria install crosswalks?
Crosswalks are installed at appropriate intersections where there are stop signs or traffic signals. Mid-block crossings are not commonly installed because – despite extensive study – it is unclear whether they provide additional safety for pedestrians. The City only installs mid-block crosswalks after thorough review.

What are the major criteria for installing a crosswalk?

  • Frequent use of the intersection by pedestrians
  • The crossing is on a direct route to or from a major generator of pedestrian traffic (school, park, library, transit stop, business district)

If a crosswalk exists, what else can be done to improve safety at an intersection?
The City can also enhance intersections to increase pedestrian safety using:

  • High visibility crosswalks and warning signs
  • Better lighting
  • Curb extensions (also known as bulb-outs) to reduce the width of the pedestrian crossing and to improve visibility
  • Pedestrian refuge areas, such as median islands

What is the process for getting a crosswalk installed in my neighborhood?
T&ES regularly meets with neighborhood representatives to discuss pedestrian issues and solicit community input.

What happens to crosswalks affected during construction projects?
When it is determined that a crosswalk should be temporarily removed due to a construction or maintenance project, alternatives are developed and proper signage and/or notification to pedestrians is provided. The contractor is directed to replace the marked crosswalk as soon as possible, as part of the construction project.

Does the City ever remove crosswalks?
Rarely. The City of Alexandria will not remove existing marked crosswalks unless notice and opportunity to be heard is provided to the public not less than 30 days prior to the scheduled date of removal. The crosswalk identified for removal will also be posted.

The Traffic & Parking Board hears public input on removal. Considering the Board’s recommendations, the Department of Transportation makes a final determination.