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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.

Fairfield District candidates weigh in on safer streets and regional connectivity

On June 11, residents in Henrico County’s Fairfield District will vote for a member of the Board of Supervisors in the primary election. Often the primary election can be more important than the general election for determining who will represent residents locally in Henrico.

Candidates Joseph Brown, Frank Thornton, and Maurice Tyler

Henrico County boasts welcoming neighborhoods and great schools and parks, but residents know the County also has some very unsafe streets. Last year there were 6,299 crashes on Henrico roads resulting in 2,741 injuries and 28 deaths. While just five months into this year, Henrico has already experienced 2,292 crashes on its roads, resulting in 1,041 injuries and 14 deaths.

 

According to the U.S. Census, approximately one-third of residents in the Richmond region 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 County residents walk or ride bikes for transportation to get to essential destinations such as work or school, to run errands, or to shop. Many families and residents also enjoy walking or riding a bike for recreation or exercise.

 

The next member of the Board of Supervisors from the Fairfield District will have the opportunity to make the County’s streets 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 Joseph Brown, Frank Thornton, Maurice Tyler. Should candidates decide to respond, their answers are published below.

 

Safe Streets

 

Question 1 – Safe Streets

Some of the most dangerous streets in the Fairfield District include Brook Road, Mechanicsville Turnpike, Parham Road, and Nine Mile Road. These roads are also home to many important destinations such as shopping centers, schools, and churches, and each of them has been the site of numerous pedestrian and bicycle fatalities and serious injuries in recent years. In fact, the rate of traffic-related pedestrian deaths continues to rise in Henrico County.

What will you do to see that these streets are made safer for all users?

Joseph Brown: No response.

Frank Thornton: No response.

Maurice Tyler: “Recently, the Henrico County Police Department [formed] a work group to take a look at safety conditions such as roadways, sidewalks and crosswalks throughout Henrico county. In March of 2019, the work group developed a public awareness campaign called “Watch Your Step.” This public campaign targeted citizens of the county to bring attention to safety and precautionary measures that can help reduce the number of unwanted accidents and pedestrian deaths. If elected I will support the efforts of this work group by soliciting from my constituents and if need patron an ordinance for enhancements.”

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Question 2 – Funding

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 both retrofit existing infrastructure and to build new, safe streets.

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

Joseph Brown: No response.

Frank Thornton: No response.

Maurice Tyler: “Yes, Henrico County’s current 2019/2020 budget reflects $2.5 million for sidewalk and crosswalk enhancements. I will also look at collaborating with VDOT to see if the County is eligible for federal funding e.g. Highway Safety Improvements Programs (HSIP) and Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery Discretionary Grants (TIGER) programs.”

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Question 3: Policies and 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 Hanover County? What steps will you take to see that these policies and programs are approved or put into practice?

Joseph Brown: No response.

Frank Thornton: No response.

Maurice Tyler: No response.  

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Question 4 – Vision Zero

Henrico County leads the region in pedestrian deaths with six this year, and saw nine pedestrian fatalities and 110 injuries last year. Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.

Will you support the creation of a Vision Zero Action Plan by Henrico County leadership to coordinate the participation of multiple County agencies in contributing to eliminating fatalities and injuries on County roads?

Joseph Brown: No response.

Frank Thornton: No response.

Maurice Tyler: “Yes, I will patron a resolution that will enforce Henrico’s commitment to 9 components of a strong Vision Zero commitment. I will charge the County’s Department of Public Works to lead the County’s Vision Zero action plan. I will work with our state representative to foster a regional approach to addressing pedestrian fatalities and injuries. Being that the City of Richmond and Hanover has already launched their Vision Zero Action plan, I will work to develop a regional plan that encompasses the county/city collaboration.”

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Question 5 – Plans and Projects

In the last three years, the City of Richmond has developed a Bicycle Master Plan, Chesterfield County has developed a Bikeways and Trails Plan, and Hanover has developed an Active Living and Healthy Neighborhoods Plan. These plans set long-term visions for those localities for how to improve biking and walking for transportation and recreation. Henrico County does not yet have a comparable plan.

If elected, would you support development of a walking/biking infrastructure plan for Henrico County during your term in office? How?

Joseph Brown: No response.

Frank Thornton: No response.

Maurice Tyler: “Yes, during my first year I will make this an agenda item in my monthly constituent meetings. I will also charge the Henrico Police Department with developing the “Watch Your Step” campaign. As I previously mention. I will also seek feedback from my constituents on target roads and streets that have presented safety concerns in the past. If needed, as previously mentioned I will put in a budget amendment to address the need for road improvements.”

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Question 6 – Regional Connectivity

The Virginia Department of Transportation is currently pursuing the study of a new Ashland to Petersburg Trail, a north-south paved multi-use trail that has the potential to connect several localities and intersect with the Virginia Capital Trail and Appomattox River Trail, contributing to what will ultimately become a regional trail network. This project would have major safety benefits for people biking and walking, as well as significant economic development potential for nearby communities in Henrico County.

If elected, what will you do to advance this project?

Joseph Brown: No response.

Frank Thornton: No response.

Maurice Tyler: “By seeking VDOT support along with our state representatives. Also to see if the county qualifies for TIGER or HSIP Grant Funds or if there is any current state revenue source that could be used to advance this project through the county this may call for a regional cooperative agreement.”

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Sports Backers is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and does not endorse candidates or political parties. Sports Backers’ candidate questionnaire is strictly educational in nature. 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.