See this post on ArlNow for the backstory.

TL’DR – Basically, Arlington County Gov installed a “no pedestrian crossing” sign where there have been numerous close calls between pedestrians and cars, specifically between the Whole Foods and Starbucks.

This is ultimately a failure of urban design. The sign is just evidence that the planners failed to see how these spaces would be used. It’s a lazy quick fix to a much bigger problem of prioritizing cars over people in urban environments.

The surface parking lot in front of Whole Foods is the most likely culprit in causing this problem, although there are a number of designs in that area that contribute to the jay walking issue. People want to take the shortest distance regardless of what sign you put up or the path you pave or the law they break, they are lazy and stressed. Their decisions are going to reflect this. You can mitigate some of this through rules enforcement but that comes at the expense of resources that could be used on more important problems. So the best solution is to build environments so people dont have to make these decisions.

The surface parking lot forced the entrance to be pushed back off the street front, there by creating a more suburban design and forcing people to walk through some portion of the parking lot and creating a rather round about walking path to get to the entrance. Pedestrians are left with two decisions to cross, risk a short walk across Clarendon directly to the entrance or guarantee a slower walk waiting for a light to cross, to then have to deal with cars turning into the surface lot, to then finally making it to the entrance. Remember, people are lazy. Had the entrance to the Whole Foods been placed on the street front or better yet at the corner of Edgewood, pedestrians would be much less likely to attempt crossing because their perceived choices would make more sense. Instead of short risky cross vs. long circuitous, eliminate the choice through better design and the problem would likely fix itself.