The glaring safety hazards that caused Kelly Howell’s accident have not been ignored.
On June 16, Ms. Howell, bicyclist, was hit by an SUV on the Berkley Bridge pedestrian access pathway. The driver was a VDOT contractor. After the collision, which resulted in minor injuries to Ms. Howell, VDOT made immediate changes to bridge regulations. They included a new mandate that prohibited bridge tenders to not use their vehicles when rotating between shifts, as the driver had done.
Due to the incident, VDOT also initiated an internal review to identify further areas of improvement and increase pedestrian and motorist safety.
One of the major complaints was that there was inadequate signage on the bridge. In fact, it is clear in a video posted of the accident that the bridge is very curved, which would block a pedestrian or driver’s view of anything even a hundred feet away. It was evident that signage was a must. WAVY 10 reports on the infrastructural improvements installed that address this issue:
- Installation of improved signage and paint markings on the pathway
- Installation of flexible post delineators to guide bicycle and pedestrian traffic
Prior to the collision, bridge tenders regularly drove full-sized vehicles on the pathway to rotate between shifts. While it may have afforded workers a few extra minutes of time, it posed a serious hazard to pedestrians who did not anticipate the vehicles. As a result, administrative procedures have been altered to:
- Eliminate the routine use of full-size motor vehicles on the pedestrian access pathway
- Require the use of golf cart-type vehicles for employee transportation
- Require the use of walking spotters to identify any potential safety issues when full-size vehicles are required on the pathway for equipment transport or maintenance
- Modify bridge operator access
VDOT’s prompt response is commendable. The Department faltered by not incorporating these precautions in the first place, but VDOT did not wait until a pedestrian was seriously injured to initiate change.