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Bike Walk RVA

Advocating for comfortable and connected places to bike and walk for people of all ages and abilities in greater Richmond. Biking and walking for everyday transportation should be accessible to everyone.

Brookland District Candidates Detail Commitments to Safer Streets

On November 7th, voters in Henrico County’s Brookland District will elect a new member of the Board of Supervisors. Henrico County boasts welcoming neighborhoods and great schools and parks, but residents know the County also has some very unsafe streets – Henrico leads the region in pedestrian deaths and there have already been nearly 4,000 crashes on Henrico roads this year.

 

The next member of the Board of Supervisors from the Brookland District will have the opportunity to make the County’s roads safer for all users – people in cars, on bikes, and people walking. To find out where the candidates stand on issues of street safety, Bike Walk RVA administered a candidate questionnaire to Bob Witte and Courtney Lynch. Their answers are below. We hope residents in Henrico turn out to VOTE on November 7th. We’ll be there on November 8th ready to push for safer streets with the help of the newest member of the Board of Supervisors.

 

Safer Streets
Funding Projects
Policies & Programs
Vision Zero
First Term Commitments

Question 1 – Safer Streets Priorities

According to the U.S. Census, approximately one-third of Richmond area residents do not own a car or do not drive on a regular basis because they can’t afford it, are not mentally or physically able, have had their license revoked, or are not yet driving age. Whether by choice or out of necessity, many Henrico residents walk or ride bikes for transportation to get to essential destinations such as work, school, to run errands, or to shop. Many families and residents also enjoy walking or riding a bike for recreation or exercise.

However, some of the most dangerous streets in the Brookland District include Hungary Road, Broad Street, Staples Mill Road, and many others. Each of these roads has experienced numerous pedestrian fatalities and/or serious injuries in recent years.

What will you do to see that these streets and others across the County are made safer for all users?

Courtney Lynch –

“We must do all we can to make our streets safe for everyone. Sadly, Henrico County has the highest amount of pedestrian fatalities in our region. First, I would seek to prioritize some of the most basic needs – like crosswalks and safety lights. Then, I would welcome the opportunity to come together with key stakeholders: engineers, planners, police, medical professionals, nonprofits, other elected officials, and citizens to determine what actions we can take over time to address unsafe streets in the Brookland District and throughout Henrico.

For decades Henrico has prioritized car travel. It’s time that we focus on creating places where it’s enjoyable to bike and walk; two modes of transportation enjoyed by all generations.”

Bob Witte –

“Cyclist and pedestrian needs in counties, obviously, are quite different from those in cities. Years ago, such needs were practically non-existent in Henrico. And while those concerns are emerging in more densely populated areas, they don’t exist everywhere. We need to address them wherever we can, as resources permit. In addition, ongoing infrastructure improvements and new developments can provide opportunities to include cyclist and pedestrian access in a way that doesn’t burden taxpayers.”
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Question 2 – Funding Projects

Making changes to roads in Henrico County will sometimes require funding for capital projects. Federal grants, state revenue-sharing, or local capital improvement dollars can be used in combination to adapt existing infrastructure and build new, safe projects.

Do you support pursuing funding for biking and walking projects? If so, how?

Courtney Lynch –

“I absolutely support continuing efforts to fund biking and walking projects. In the recent past, Henrico has begun funding biking and walking projects. I would do all I can to see this funding continue and grow. We want to be a safe community that is attractive to a variety of generations. To stay this way, we must embrace biking and walking projects that make our community more livable and enjoyable for all. To do this, we need to assess what we have and seek projects that can improve our pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure in cost-effective ways. There are places where paving a simple 10-foot stretch could connect two neighborhoods for bikers and walkers. I would look for conservative ways to provide maximum return.

Then, I would seek guidance and assistance from community nonprofits and informed experts as to how Henrico can best leverage federal grants and state revenue sharing opportunities to secure funding to adapt existing infrastructure and build new, safe projects. As Henrico grows, we need to find ways to make pedestrian and bike accessibility an essential part of how we live. It’s a public health concern – we as a society need to be more mobile – and it’s important to find feasible ways to incorporate mobility into our daily lives.”

Bob Witte –

“I support Henrico’s 2017 budget items expanding sidewalks, increasing pedestrian paths and bicycle lanes. These are wonderful additions that are worthy of public support, but only where demand exists in areas where cyclists and pedestrians need and want them. I’m open to more of these improvements in the future.”
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Question 3: Policies & Programs

In addition to on-the-ground infrastructure, what policies and programs need to be put in place to make biking and walking safer and more enjoyable for people of all ages in Henrico County? What steps will you take to see that these policies and programs are approved or put into practice?

Courtney Lynch –

“One of the most creative and effective polices we can consider is ensuring that every new biking or walking project should strive to be usable by a 12-year-old girl. I have twin daughters near that age. Some of the more affordable ways to improve access for walkers and bikers involve painted stripes and shared lanes. The results of these improvements still might not make access safe enough for my children. And, while we need to leverage these cost-effective ways initially, as we build for the future it will be important to consider ways to make everything we build serve the public at large. If you make a new walkway or bike path suitable for use by a young girl, it will be safe enough for the rest of us too.

Other policies worth noting and examining include continuing to focus on mixed-use development that pairs residential and businesses together in walkable and rideable developments.”

Bob Witte –

“Where feasible and practical, I will seek bike and pedestrian friendly considerations during infrastructure improvements and planning deliberations.”
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Question 4: Vision Zero

Henrico County leads the region in pedestrian deaths this year (six fatalities and 54 injuries) and if this trend continues will surpass the seven pedestrian fatalities that occurred last year. The total number of crashes involving drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians in Henrico County this year totals nearly 3,800 with 15 fatalities and 1,784 injuries. Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries within a stated timeframe (e.g., by the year 2030), while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.

If elected, will you pursue the creation and adoption of a Vision Zero Action Plan to better coordinate the multiple County agencies and stakeholders instrumental to achieving the long-term goal of zero traffic-related deaths and serious injuries in Henrico County?

Courtney Lynch –

“Henrico has a tremendous opportunity to makes streets safer by pursuing the creation and adoption of a Vision Zero Action Plan. I want to be a part of setting a clear goal for Henrico of eliminating traffic fatalities and I will encourage key County leaders to publicly state their commitment to doing so. I’d welcome the opportunity to work to develop a Vison Zero strategy and plan, as well as a timeline for implementing it. It will be important to engage key stakeholders like our polices, transportation experts and public health officials in the process. Effective leaders influence outcomes and inspire action. I’d like to take on this leadership challenge.”

Bob Witte –

“Public safety is always a local government’s highest priority. There are lots of desirable safety measures that are simply too expensive to secure. But I will certainly support measures that are possible within our means to pay for them.”
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Question 5 – Commitments in Your First Term

If elected, what improvements to street safety for biking and walking infrastructure can your voters in the Brookland District expect from your first term as a Supervisor?

Courtney Lynch –

“Voters can expect that I will identify which projects are feasible for completion during my first term and that I will work diligently to achieve progress on them. Since my first term will be a short two years I anticipate those improvements will include progress on fundamental needs like painted crosswalks and safety lights. I’ll also work to ensure that new projects are designed with safety in mind right from the start.”

Bob Witte –

“For one, biking and walking paths will be part of new park construction in Brookland. Second, I will work with residents to seek such improvements in Hunton Park according to their desires in the area. Third, I will look for new opportunities to expand biking and walking access in ongoing infrastructure improvements and planning deliberations, whenever possible.”
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Bike Walk RVA and Sports Backers are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and do not make endorsements in elections. For more information about safer streets projects and policies, join our email list! We’re always talking about opportunities to improve our region’s roads and infrastructure.

  • Debbie

    Courtney lynch was clear and specific in answering the questions; Witte’s answers were too vague except for #5.