Washington and Old Dominion trail to become subject of new campaign

There's a new push to step up safety along the Washington and Old Dominion trail in Vienna.

Town officials are urging those traveling by foot and by bike to obey the rules of the road.

Just a couple of weeks ago, an 80-year-old woman died after a cyclist collided with her in a park near her Arlington home.

The news got a lot of people thinking about what can be done to prevent another tragedy.

Several thousand cyclists, joggers and walkers hit the pavement on the Washington & Old Dominion Trial. All that traffic is creating what many call a perennial problem.

Gale Vathing, who walks on the trial, said, " I think anybody who's been on the trail a lot, either on bicycle or walking or running, knows there are, there are close calls."

While the Bicycle Advisory Committee doesn't have an exact count on accident, they say just two years ago, a cyclist knocked a woman over, breaking one of her ribs.

Officials say one serious accident like that is one too many.

Cyclist Elizabeth Pina added, "It's kind of that split second decision. What are you going to do?"

Pina said she weaves around accidents all the time.

"I've had a few kids kind of be romping around on the trail before, and I told them, 'Passing on the left', and they didn't know what that meant and then they turned and looked...I was really close to either me going off the trail or hitting them," Pina continued.

Several others who stop by Spokes Etc. in Vienna where Pina works share the same complaints.

"Because it's a multi-use trail, we get some cyclists say walkers, skate-boarders are taking up a lot of the trail. Not paying attention...and we get other people saying the cyclists are going by very fast and not announcing their presence," said Jeff Palmer, the manager of Spokes Etc.

These types are scenarios are prompting a summer safety campaign by town officials.

They want to rein in reckless cyclists and make sure no one travels the more than 40-mile trail with blinders on.

Bicycle Advisory Committee Co-Chair Cris Janoski said, "We're seeing more and more people use the trail. Thus, there's this quote-on-quote 'overcrowding',"

Janoski told ABC7 new signs will go up on the trail, reminding riders to slow down and educating everyone who uses the space on the rules of the road.{ }

The safety campaign will launch later this summer. Officials are still sorting out a name for it, but said there will be a big community kick-off event on the trail.