Kids Want Change For Unsupervised Intersection.

Zubair Mahedavi and Amina Ahmad

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Students are playing a lottery of reaching safely to home or school.  Every time they have to cross the dreaded Portsmouth Blvd and Claiborne Pkwy intersection, it is a roll of dice. Once at the intersection, when the crosswalk sign displays “walk”, they make their move and walk at a normal pace and as they reach the last meter, the cars anxiously waiting for them to cross, zoom out barely missing them.


This is how a normal, everyday student from the Portsmouth and Breezyhill neighborhoods go to school. The travelers have a constant fear of being run down by an automobile. The drivers on the crossing do not have patience. There have been scenes when the cars move when there is still 15 seconds on the crosswalk. 

Zubair Mahedavi
the pie chart of the people who go after school displays above. The most amount of people go through the Portsmouth intersection.

such incidents aren’t in favor of the student walkers.


Eventually, if no change is brought, these near misses can become fatal.


The Portsmouth intersection is located 0.2 miles west of Trailside Middle School. The intersection has 8 different crosswalk signs, some of which aren’t noticed by drivers (if at all). The roads, Breezyhill drive, and Portsmouth Boulevard intersect Claiborne Parkway. Claiborne, a 4 lane road, is 8.2 miles long. Together these roads intersect and are a great home for unwary drivers.


According to a survey taken by 20 students at Trailside, the percentage of students who go through the Portsmouth intersection is 60%! The others like the people who go through the W&OD trail are 20%. Alexander’s grove is 15% and the ridges at the country club are 5%. With this survey done, we can conclude that the majority of Trailside goes through the Portsmouth intersection.


Greg Nelson, an everyday walker in 8th grade says “This is a very important case, yeah, people almost get hit by cars every day.” His thought wasn’t said in vain, many people can say the same about the problem. You can’t say the same about this unless you actually see it. Jackson Manning had a story of him barely missing a car after jumped from the left of him. “I barely survived after a car from the left jerked forward towards me as I was still half-way across the crosswalk. It was a scary experience.” Like Nelson, He isn’t alone, many other people feel the same about this issue. 


Below is a collage of pictures, from the journey at school to the Portsmouth crossing.

Zubair Mahedavi
Students make their way to the right, headed for the Portsmouth intersection. The young travelers’ journey begins here after school.



A student looks on the right, making sure no car runs into him. This is also a place where students have a risk of being hit by an automobile.



Zubair Mahedavi
Students walk the final stretch to the Portsmouth Intersection. Notice how the sign in fluorescent yellow has the speed limit 25. Many drivers do not pay any heed to signs. This is also a contributing factor on how dangerous the crossing is.


Students make it to the Portsmouth crossing. The intense pressure of crossing on time begins here.


Zubair Mahedavi
The Crosswalk signal displays, communicating to the pedestrians to stop and not cross. Unlike asked to, some students disregard the signs and jaywalk across. This is a problem on our part.


One of the bad things about this crossing is that it does not fit into either of the school zones. Trailside school zone is the middle school road crossing at Claiborne. The crossing is in the Stone Bridge school zone, but the zone does kick in until 4:00. Unless you want to keep kids held back until then, we need to find a better solution. If you look closely on the 4th picture from the top, a very faint fluorescent  yellow sign says “SCHOOL ZONE.” That is the Stone Bridges’ school zone. 



Now that we know about this issue, what can be done? At small measures, we can:


  1. Look both ways before crossing the street.
  2. Give signals to cars before crossing.
  3. Making EYE CONTACT with each driver.
  4. Correcting drivers if he or she is driving carelessly.
  5. Crossing on time and swiftly.


By doing these things we will be doing our part, and if the drivers continue to not pay attention, It wouldn’t be our fault. If everybody does their part in solving this issue we can have a better chance of having changed. The next step in solving this problem is by talking to the officers who watch our school and kiss & go areas. If enough of us do this, we can have cross guards watching for accidents. Overall, if this is completed we can have safe crossing areas.


During an interview with Dr. Woolever, head of the student safety said that she got complaints and feedback from the crossing.


If this works out, this can be a model for other intersections in, not only Loudoun County but Virginia as a whole. As for the drivers, they better shape up and do something, because it’s kids they’re dealing with, not adults. If they don’t, they’ll be dealing with the police.