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Here We Go Again: Woman Drives Honda Civic on W&OD Trail

A woman drove her car down the bike and jogging trail Saturday. Is the W&OD trail marked clearly enough?

A woman drove her red Honda Civic down the W&OD trail on Saturday; the path is not for cars. Patch file photo
A woman drove her red Honda Civic down the W&OD trail on Saturday; the path is not for cars. Patch file photo
Unlike Monday, the weather over the weekend was nearly springlike in Northern Virginia, so folks were heading out for a walk, a jog, a cycle — and a drive — down the W&OD trail.

The W&OD is a path for bicyclists, joggers, strollers and walkers. 

But on Saturday, a woman drove her Honda Civic down the W&OD path in Vienna.

It was about 3 in the afternoon, and Vienna resident Greg Faragasso had just finished riding his bike on the trail. 

"It was a gorgeous day and I was just finishing up a ride," he told Patch. "I finished up at the Town Green by the fountain, right across from Whole Foods. I was drinking my water, and the traffic on Maple was pretty backed up as it is on the weekends."

After awhile, Faragasso said he noticed that a car "was really laying on the horn. I didn't know why," he said. He quickly realized what was happening though. "I see a car was turning from the westbound lane of Maple, going from Tysons to Oakton and they're in the right lane westbound and turning onto the bike path, right there by the antiques shop."

Faragasso hopped on his bike to follow the car, a red Honda Civic driven by a woman. "She drove down the W&OD path toward the Freeman House and got to Church Street," he said.

Drivers at Church Street "were completely confused to see a car coming out" of the bike path, he said. 

The woman parked her car near the caboose. After a few minutes, she got out of her car and went for a run.

Faragasso didn't want to confront the woman; he called police though, but he said no one showed up while he was there talking with a friend. 

"She wasn't going fast, but still, people walk babies and children" on the trail, Faragasso said. "It would be a real tragedy if anyone got hurt."

He went back later to check signage near the trail and said that it appeared there might be a yellow pole missing in the area where the woman entered the trail.

The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) maintains the W&OD Trail and is given the authority to place or not place barriers leading onto the trail from any public areas. The Town of Vienna does not have the authority to place any type of barrier that would prevent a vehicle from entering the W&OD Trail. 

Faragasso still isn't sure why the woman took the bike and running path: Because she mistook it for a road? To skip the heavy traffic? Because her GPS guided her the wrong way?

See also:

Do you think the W&OD trail is marked clearly enough for cars not to mistake it for a road?
Matt February 04, 2014 at 09:14 AM
The W&OD trail is marked at every spot it intersects a road. If nothing else, there are crosswalks - and every driver should know not to turn into a "road" that has a crosswalk covering its entire width and bicyclists/pedestrians all over it! To me, this is a driver education/taking driving seriously issue. We don't do a good job with training drivers on how to behave around bicyclists and pedestrians, and we don't do a good job of taking bad drivers seriously. People like this should at a minimum be forced to take driver re-education classes. Driving is not an inherent right - it's an earned one. If someone demonstrates they're incapable of NOT putting others' lives at risk, they should have that right revoked.

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