Summer Update from Bike Walk RVA's Director of Outreach
By: Brantley Tyndall, Bike Walk RVA Director of Outreach
2019 has been a wild ride so far.
We, as in hundreds of community advocates, started the year winning the fight against two city councilors’ ordinance to ban the City of Richmond’s biggest protected bike lane project to date, the fully funded and designed Brook Road bike lane. The Hands Free Driving bill got closer than ever to passing the General Assembly, and we’re poised to tackle that next session. Our program got a new director, promoting Louise Lockett Gordon from within our department. We launched the newest phase of our Vision Zero awareness campaign, continuing our relationship with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Our sixth RVA Bike Month came and set our spring and summer up with lots of fun stuff to do in Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, and Hanover. The Ashland to Petersburg Trail was announced by Virginia Department of Transportation. Then I went and raced my bike across the country in a pretty wild adventure that has extended RVA Bike Month later into the summer (more on that in a bit). And then a few weeks ago, we lost a dear friend who was killed while biking in New York City, Robyn Hightman.
Our team has been gathered around the drawing board to plan out our efforts in order to make the biggest impact, and I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what Bike Walk RVA has in the works for the next few months. We say it all the time, but the only way for any of this to work is for you to be a part of it.
Wrapping up RVA Bike Month
RVA Bike Month, presented and supported for the third year by Bon Secours, just keeps getting bigger and better. 2019’s RVA Bike Month Awards are open for nomination (each nomination counts as a vote). Please dip into the following link and make your nominations! If you need a helpful list of events and other information, check out www.rvabikemonth.com.
We also have some developments with installing high capacity bike racks to support local business districts. That’s all I can share now, but more excitement to come!
Ashland to Petersburg
This spring, Governor Northam announced Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle’s initial efforts to build a 40-plus mile paved trail connecting Central Virginia north to south, for now called the Ashland to Petersburg Trail (ATP). They have been making progress over the summer developing some preliminary designs which will be available sometime around September 2019. We are following and participating in this process closely.
I am happy to announce that in Fall 2019 (as in, soon!), Bike Walk RVA plans to launch its eighth Bike Walk Academy, this time focused on building the movement around getting the ATP trail designed the way we want it, and built in a reasonable time. There will be a lot of new ground covered, as this project has a lot of unique features and opportunities. Please stay tuned, and if you’re interested in taking part in the Academy and joining us for the long haul, you can shoot me an introductory email at [email protected]
Richmond Families for Safe Streets
Bike Walk RVA lost a friend in Robyn Hightman last month when they were killed by a delivery truck driver in Manhattan. Every life lost in traffic is a tragedy, but Robyn’s death shocked and still shocks us. Seeing the hundreds of people tell heartfelt personal stories about them at vigils in Richmond and New York City, join on memorial rides, and the countless articles Robyn’s death has prompted has helped galvanize our team to do something about it: empower victim’s families and friends to organize as a powerful force for advocacy. We will be launching a training program (a shorter version of our Bike Walk RVA Academy) with this in mind in October, establishing an independent chapter of Families for Safe Streets in Richmond. Click here for more information about Families for Safe Streets in New York City, and please help connect us to people who have lost someone or who have been injured or traumatized themselves.
Virginia Credit Union Moonlight Ride
The Richmond area’s largest bike ride is a real gem, and this year the Virginia Credit Union Moonlight Ride is Saturday, August 24th. It’s a family-friendly ride on closed streets that provides a magical evening atmosphere. This year we have a new 28-mile long ride option (supported by police but not closed to traffic), so check that out if you’re adventurous! Sign the family up today, and let us know if you’d like to help volunteer at BWRVA’s cheer squad to hoot, holler, dance, and motivate the riders along the route! And PS – we’ve got a great new t-shirt this year!
Vision Zero Awareness
We are still providing pedestrian-safety awareness yard signs as a part of our grant with the Virginia DMV, and we’ll be ramping up some supplemental PSAs through social media, advertising on buses, and more in the next few months. Want a sign? Make a request here: http://bit.ly/visionzerorvasigns
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, we work to educate voters and candidates for office in our mission area about issues related to biking and walking safety. Supervisors in Chesterfield, Hanover, and Henrico are up for election in 2019, as well as every state senator and delegate. We share questionnaires with all candidates and publish the responses we receive in full, and we never endorse candidates.
Thanks for everything you do to make advocacy for safe biking and walking effective in the Richmond region. For your volunteerism, your donations of time and financial support, your enthusiasm to walk and ride, your eyes on the ground for things that need to be fixed or things that are going well, your stewardship of our community, and for your hope for a better future. We are here to help as best as we can, and Louise and I are always happy to hear from you.
Director of Outreach, Bike Walk RVA