The 20' Clear Width rule in the Virginia Fire Code is preventing the installation of protected bike lanes and making new sidewalk installations politically infeasible in Arlington. It is blocking street designs that would naturally calm traffic and provide pedestrians a refuge when crossing busy streets. The fire code explicitly gives County leaders the ability to grant exceptions to this rule to meet our public safety goals (such as Vision Zero) but the County lacks a transparent policy or process to do so.
We are asking the county to work with the community to develop a transparent, thoughtful process to grant exceptions to the 20' Clear Width Rule to allow safer street designs to meet our Vision Zero goals. For more info on the 20' Clear Width Rule, see Modern Mobility: Balancing Fire Safety and Street Safety.
Ultimate Goal: A transparent, documented and thoughtful policy on making exceptions to the fire code 20' clear width rule to allow safe street designs.
Current Goal: A transparent, documented and thoughtful policy on making exceptions to the fire code 20' clear width rule to allow safe street designs.
Detailed Status: Determining next advocacy steps.
Neighborhood Complete Streets Commission Sends Letter Regarding Fire Code Issues
Arlington's Neighborhood Complete Streets Commission sent a letter to the County Board highlighting how a strict application of the 20' Clear Width rule of the Virginia Fire Code has halted multiple important capital projects with no clear route to move forward.
Modern Mobility Post
SusMo President Chris Slatt devotes his bi-weekly column to the 20' clear width rule to raise awareness with the public.