The Most Useless Crosswalk Ever Is In McLean

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This is a story of bad pedestrian design of the worst sort. I live in the Tysons / McLean area, and so I frequently use the GW Parkway. When you’re going Northbound on the GWP and get off at the Rt 123/McLean exit, you encounter the worst and most useless crosswalk I’ve ever seen, and it bothers me why its there. It speaks to horrible planning, to bad design, and just a general insult to pedestrian infrastructure.

Site Overview

So this is the overview of where it is so you know what I’m talking about. (at the end of this post I embedded the Google Map so you can explore yourself). This crosswalk lies in McLean, VA, which is not really even an incorporated city as much as an address label. This is under the jurisdiction of Fairfax County, and the Virginia Department of Transportation.


Why This Crosswalk is Horrible

Let’s start with the opening image at the top of this post. There’s some “Pedestrian Xing” signs, “warning” you that someone may be walking from nowhere to nowhere. This is my fundamental problem with this intersection: there is signage for pedestrian crossings, pedestrian crosswalk markings, and then this intersection links absolutely nothing to nothing. If anything, it seems to invite pedestrians to walk to their doom. This kind of design makes motorists disregard this type of signage, and it also speaks to some designers/planners (ahem!) wasting the money it costs to sign and paint this crosswalk.

A Few More Perspectives and Arguments

Here is a little more of an overview from overhead:


And here are a few perspectives you see when you’re driving from both sides. Note the utter futility of the crosswalk. Note the lack of any connectivity to anything. There are no sidewalks connected to this crosswalk, only sadness and potential injury or death.


View going northbound, getting off GWP


View looking southbound

 It’s Plain Bad Design

I don’t think anyone can ever justify why this crosswalk is here. Perhaps there was a plan for a sidewalk that somehow would traverse a highway offramp? Maybe they planned some pedestrian improvements that never materialized. The point is that we as transportation professionals need to make sure stuff like this doesn’t happen. The money for this paint and signage is better spent elsewhere.

I Want Your Stories and Pictures

Do you have stories or pictures of bad pedestrian design? Post them on Instagram and Twitter, and tweet them to me @TranspoPlanner, with hashtag #badcrosswalk .  We should expand the conversation on this, and I’m happy to blog away about your examples.

 Google Map Link


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