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MCINCR - Marine Corps Base Quantico

"Crossroads of the Marine Corps"

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Danger at the intersection of ‘Walk’ and ‘Don’t Walk’

By Eve A. Baker | Marine Corps Base Quantico | January 15, 2015


On Friday, at approximately 7 a.m., a Marine on foot in a crosswalk adjacent to Barber Physical Activity Center was struck by a vehicle.

As of Monday afternoon, the Marine was still hospitalized but out of danger, according to Mark Knox, director of Base Safety. Of the location where the incident took place, Knox said, “the paint indicating the crosswalk was extremely faded, and there was poor lighting.”

The incident serves as a reminder that Marine Corps Base Quantico is home to a large number of people who are very physically active and regularly use the trails, sidewalks and roads as a place to exercise.Safety on the roads requires the participation of all drivers, cyclists and pedestrians (runners are considered pedestrians because they are on foot).

A key safety measure for pedestrians is to cross the street in a crosswalk. It is Virginia state law that pedestrians must cross a street in a crosswalk if there is one at a given intersection or nearby. Vehicles are required by law to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. Virginia Code, section A.2.B 46.2-925, states that if there is a pedestrian control signal at an intersection — an electric Walk/Don’t walk sign — pedestrians must follow the directions of the sign. When “Walk” is illuminated, and a pedestrian is in the crosswalk, vehicles and bicyclists must yield to pedestrians.

According to Ed Billig, traffic safety manager for MCBQ, the rules are the same on base. For intersections where there is no electric sign, as soon as a pedestrian steps into the crosswalk, he or she has the right of way.

Crosswalks and street lane lines are typically repainted in the spring, when the weather improves, Billig said. Any base employee can put in a request to have a crosswalk near his or her place of work repainted. When Base Safety receives the request, representatives go out to the site and perform a survey to determine if the work is actually needed. It is a relatively low-cost task, and employees are encouraged to report areas that need repair.

Billig said this incident marks only approximately the third time a pedestrian has been struck in the last several years, which is indicative that safety measures being taken are at least somewhat effective. (Exact accident figures were not available by the time this article went to press).

Captain Susan Vance, assistant section head for Substance Abuse Section, Marine and Family Programs Division, said she was struck by a truck while bicycling on base in August 2011. She said she was riding near the Davis Center on Russell Road and was broad-sided by a pick-up truck. The collision resulted in neck and back injuries, as well as a wrist injury that required surgery. Vance said that while she does still ride occasionally, she has not ridden on this side of base since the accident.

In addition to actual collisions, many runners and cyclists report having regular close calls with cars. Maj. Peter Baker, deputy director of Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs, an avid runner and cyclist, said he has had a few close calls where cars have nearly struck him while he has been out exercising on the road. He said it has usually happened at the intersection of Fuller and Geiger roads, because people are rolling through the stop sign as they are turning right but looking left.

Gunnery Sgt. Mark Vesely, chief accident reconstructionist for the Provost Marshal’s Office Accident Investigation Unit, said another problematic location is the intersection of Catlin and Barnett avenues. He said drivers are used to being waved out onto Barnett during rush hour by drivers approaching from the left, so they do not typically look right at any time during the day and see the runners in the shoulder lane.

In terms of safety on the roads, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers all need to do their part. Marine Corps Base Order 6100.2, Policy For Physical Training Aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, includes the following regulations.

Personnel conducting physical training along MCBQ roadways will wear a reflector belt or vest at all times.

When riding on paved roads, cyclists will travel in the direction of vehicle travel, stay to the right edge of the paved surface, obey all traffic signs and signals, and yield to pedestrians

Pedestrians will walk, jog or run on the side of the roadway facing oncoming traffic.

Personnel may only wear headphones while using the athletic track or trails that are situated off the road.

Given that camouflage is designed to make a service member blend into the environment, military personnel aboard the base may also want to refrain from wearing the utility trousers or olive-drab training attire while exercising along the roadway.

— Writer: ebaker@quanticosentryonline.com

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