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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?
ellensbookstore February 04, 2014 at 08:27 AM
I think this woman got tired of waiting in traffic and decided she "deserved" a shortcut. The fact that she parked and went for a run makes it clear that she knew what the trail was and what it was for. I think the problem here is hubris, a sense of entitlement, and a bit of road rage. I wish the police had caught up with her. Maybe what we need are higher fines...and a charge of reckless endangerment to get through to these people. Instead of adding a post we should add a red light camera at the intersection on 123. There is already a traffic light there. Except this camera should be set as though the traffic light is always red. This way the police will get photos of vehicles/drivers that enter and exit the trail at that point and can follow up with charges.
John Luck February 04, 2014 at 09:39 AM
Talk about "self entitlement." After barreling through pedestrians and bikers on the W&OD Trail, this woman simply parks her car, tightens her shoelaces, and goes off on a pleasant little run. As you stated, the very fact that she was, indeed, running on the trail would indicate she clearly knew that she was driving on a recreational trail, fully aware of what it was she was doing, and the presence of pedestrians and bikers, whose lives she was risking, meant absolutely nothing. The fact that she was actually honking at people to get then out of her way enroute to her fun run is truly indicative of a toxic level of privilege. This level of self-centered "all about me" mindset, mixed with anger-management issues, stupidity, and in many cases, talking on a cellphone while driving, is an unbeatable combination. You could install all the barricades, moats, tank-traps, manned guard posts, flashing lights, etc, and people like this would still blithely drive right through, knocking people aside like tenpins, endangering people, whatever...just make way for Master of the Universe, going about his/her life...
Bill M. February 04, 2014 at 10:42 AM
When I read the headline, I thought just that: Here we go again! Opening up old wounds, stirring up a fresh pot of controversy soup! First off: The bike trail was built for transportational use, getting from one place to another. When the streets get jammed with bicyclists, I don't go running to the nearest policeman. I practice TOLERANCE. Second of all: I think it's wrong to just assume the driver was a female. I love this town, but there's a lot I wish I could change.
Dirck Harris February 04, 2014 at 01:29 PM
It wasn't "assumed" the driver was a woman- the witness said it was and he watched her get out of her car when she parked next to the trail. Also, the bike trail *was* built for transportational and recreational use, but NOT by cars. Just because traffic might be a little heavy doesn't mean we can just decide to use the bike trail because it's convenient.
Michael H. February 07, 2014 at 07:10 PM
A bike/pedestrian trail is just that, designed for bike and pedestrian use only (except for official vehicles in emergency situations). Tolerance? For someone acting illegally and endangering other people? No, I freely admit that I am not tolerant of people who endanger and bully others just for convenience sake. Would people be "tolerant" of someone who decided that he deserved to "drive" a tank around on public streets? Would you be tolerant of the tank driver who forced car drivers off of public roads, just so he could avoid having to drive half a block more? (The woman on the W&OD simply needed to drive ahead about 20 or 30 feet to reach the parking lot lane where she could have arrived at her desired parking spot. She knew exactly what she was doing. She does not deserve tolerance.)
John Strother February 10, 2014 at 10:36 AM
Next time snap a picture of the violation, one's word isn't enough these days to have a warrant issued. You got a cell phone, it also is a camera. Use it and this will stop.
Jack406 February 11, 2014 at 09:28 AM
Too bad the Vienna Police couldn't be bothered to come and issue her a ticket. Probably sitting on the side of 123 or Echols giving tickets to people there. But it would be useful to protect the children and around the town center and on the trail. The Trail isn't marked properly. I saw a woman turn onto the trail from the first road on the left as you go down the hill from Vienna towards Clark's Crossing. I stopped and held up my arms and she immediately realized her mistake and backed up and drove off the trail.

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