Email signup

New signs encourage Vienna pedestrians and drivers to see ‘Eye to Eye’

Members of the Vienna Transportation Safety Commission, which includes the Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and residents install a sign for the new “Eye to Eye” safety campaign (courtesy Vienna Transportation Safety Commission)

Some new traffic signs have popped up around Vienna, but unlike traditional stop or speed limit signs, these yellow, reflective placards are intended more for sidewalk users than road users.

Volunteers with the Vienna Pedestrian Advisory Committee (PAC) started posting the signs on pedestrian signal poles around town in late September for their “Eye to Eye” campaign, which encourages walkers to make eye contact with drivers before stepping into a crosswalk.

The campaign’s launch coincides with National Pedestrian Safety Month, which occurs every October. It also comes on the heels of a new Virginia law that requires drivers to fully stop, not just yield, when pedestrians are crossing.

However, PAC chair Angel Sorrell says “Eye to Eye” was in the works months before that legislative change took effect on July 1.

“What we found in the Town of Vienna is that, coming out of Covid, there’s just a lot more walking around town, which we love and we’d like to support that,” Sorrell said. “While that worked well when there weren’t a lot of cars on the road, as cars have increased, we’re seeing that pedestrians are crossing intersections and really not looking and making eye contact and crossing the intersections in a safe way.”

Pedestrian safety was a nationwide concern before the pandemic, but fatalities have noticeably jumped up since 2020, reaching a 41-year high of at least 7,508 deaths in 2022. In Fairfax County, 65 people were killed in traffic crashes last year — 32 of them pedestrians, the most since Virginia started regularly collecting data in 2010.

None of those deaths were in the Town of Vienna, and the national increase in pedestrian deaths has been attributed to a number of factors, including deadly road design and a trend toward large vehicles, beyond the capacity of a seven-person, all-volunteer committee to address.

But Sorrell says PAC had been “wrestling” with ways they could help keep pedestrians safe when committee member Brian Land suggested installing signs that encourage eye contact like ones he’d seen while on vacation in Nashville.

The sign encourages pedestrians to make eye contact with drivers before entering a crosswalk (courtesy Vienna Transportation Safety Commission)

“We worked with the town and said that, as volunteers, we would post these signs in a temporary fashion at really high-traffic intersections, even some with the flashing signs,” Sorrell said. “We would install them around town in a temporary fashion through the fall. So, that’s what we’ve done.”

Fixed around eye level on poles with pedestrian crossing buttons, the signs feature two stick figures — one on foot and one seated in a car — with an arrow between their eyes to indicate that they’re looking at each other.

“LOOK! Make eye contact before crossing,” they say.

Sorrell says PAC purchased 38 signs and placed two to four at busy intersections, depending on how many each site could accommodate. The volunteers plan to leave the signs at their current locations through the fall before moving them to different intersections around town about once every quarter.

The “Eye to Eye” campaign joins a slew of efforts by Fairfax County to address the recent uptick in pedestrian fatalities, from crackdowns on aggressive driving by the police to funding for crosswalks, trail maintenance and other pedestrian and bicycle projects.

So far, the county has seen seven pedestrian fatalities, most recently on Richmond Highway this past Saturday (Oct. 7). At this time in 2022, there were 14 fatalities.

In addition to “Eye to Eye,” PAC has been working with town staff to identify and fill in sidewalk gaps, an effort that has quickened in pace over the past year. Around May, the committee also started an initiative to help residents maintain clean sidewalks and address overgrown bushes and tree limbs that might create an obstacle for pedestrians.

“We just needed to have more safety guardrails really put around our pedestrians and crosswalks,” Sorrell said. “[The General Assembly was] working at it from a legislative side to change that law that just went into effect. But we really wanted to arm pedestrians with the tools that they need to be successful in crosswalks.”

Recent Stories

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue responded to a fire at a high-rise on the 8200 block of Crestwood Heights Drive in Tysons just after noon today. The department said firefighters…

Cirque Du Soleil is coming back to Fairfax next month. The theatrical aerobatic spectacle is performing eight shows at George Mason University’s Eagle Bank Arena from May 17-25. This year’s…

The Fairfax County Police Department is seeking a suspect possibly connected to three robberies in which the man used pepper spray against store employees. Police said the latest incident occurred…

Police are investigating the the fatal shooting of a woman who died at Mount Vernon Hospital last night. The Fairfax Police Department said around 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday night the…

Unlike our competitors, Well-Paid Maids doesn’t clean your home with harsh chemicals. Instead, we handpick cleaning products rated “safest” by the Environmental Working Group, the leading rating organization regarding product safety.

The reason is threefold.

First, using safe cleaning products ensures toxic chemicals won’t leak into waterways or harm wildlife if disposed of improperly.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

There’s a reason Well-Paid Maids has hundreds of positive reviews from happy clients in the D.C. area.

The home cleaning company pays cleaners — who are W-2 employees — a living wage starting at $24 an hour. Plus, cleaners are offered benefits, including insurance, 24 paid days off a year, 100% employer-paid commuting costs and more.

Lexi Grant, an operations manager at Well-Paid Maids, said it best: “People deserve their work to be respected and recognized. When that happens, you love what you do, and you create the best results.”

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Dream, Design, Build: Home Expo 2024

Sponsored by ABW Appliances & Eden, join us for a one-of-a-kind Home Expo event on May 11th from 10AM to 4PM!

The DMV’s top experts — AKG Design Studio and GMJ Construction — are opening their doors to homeowners to

Ravel Dance Company presents The Sleeping Beauty at Capital One…

Be transported to the magical kingdom of Princess Aurora, where the wicked Carabosse casts a curse that dooms the Princess and her entire kingdom. Set to the spectacular Tchaikovsky score, this beloved classic will sweep you away with its beauty,


Subscribe to our mailing list