Winter Update from Bike Walk RVA
By: Brantley Tyndall, Bike Walk RVA Director of Outreach
2020 is mostly off to a pretty great start around here at Bike Walk RVA, once you get past all the rain. As you can see below, we’re continuing to get some forward motion on major projects for biking and walking around the region.
But we have to stay vigilant to the problems we are all working to solve. People walking and biking in our region are still getting hit by drivers, and sometimes killed. Speeding in our neighborhoods is widely reported, and crossing the street can feel like rolling the dice. Just a couple of weeks ago, our friend and one of the first Bike Walk RVA Champions, Ross Kimball, was hit while riding his bike while doing everything right.
We’re out here biking and walking, so please watch out for each other no matter how you’re getting around.
View this post on Instagram
First and foremost: I am okay. No broken bones or other injuries. Just sore and bruised. For that, I am very thankful and fortunate. My bike, not so much. I am angry and sad. Angry because the person who rear ended me wasn’t paying attention to what they were doing while driving their vehicle. Angry because I was doing everything that I should have been doing (reflective jacket, bright yellow helmet, lights, and all that jazz). Sad because this preventable event has made me really think that maybe this commuting to work thing is just too damn risky. Sad because it is safer for me to drive to work in this metal box than to be able to ride a bicycle. #visionzero #rvabike #distracteddriving
New Bike Walk RVA hire!
We’re super pleased to announce our new Lead Organizer who joined us in November 2019, ShaCoria Shelton! She is a Hokie who joins us with a background in public health, is active in her church, and volunteers as a track coach in Chesterfield County. If there’s an important public meeting, tactical urbanism event, or fun bike ride, expect ShaCoria to reach out. Send her a quick welcome note at [email protected] if you have a minute!
Virginia General Assembly
The 2020 session of the state legislature has been in high gear for five weeks, and there is a lot of new energy around issues that directly or indirectly support safe walking and biking. We are past crossover, meaning all bills that have successfully passed their house of origin will cross to the other side (e.g. House bills go to the Senate) for the same test. We wrote up a blog about some of the bills we are tracking closely, and with your help, these bills are all alive and well at this point. Everything can change in an instant, though, so we’ll keep you updated about when and how to weigh in to give these life-saving, trail-building, and…err…stop-for-pedestrianing bills the best shot for being signed by the governor.
- Richmond Delegate Jeff Bourne is carrying HB 874, the Hands Free bill. Along with the Senate version, Surovell’s SB 160, Hands Free has so far passed with flying colors. It had done the same at this point in the 2019 session and still found a way to be killed at the last second, so we still need to keep the pressure on, but it’s looking like this could really shape up to be our year.
- Richmond/Chesterfield Delegate Delores McQuinn is carrying HB 1541, the Central Virginia Transportation Authority bill that could contribute millions of dollars to building the Ashland to Petersburg Trail.
- Henrico Delegate Rodney Willett in his first term carried HB 621, enabling local automated speed enforcement programs in school and work zones. There have been a lot of these kinds of bills and Del. Willett’s bill shaped the final language of HB 1442, carried by Del. Jones from Norfolk, of which Willett is chief co-patron.
- Stop for Pedestrians (HB 1705, Del. Kory) and Stop for Pedestrians if Another Car has Stopped (HB 1644, Del. Plum) strengthen requirements for drivers to defer to people crossing the street.
- Governor’s safety bills: HB 1414 and HB 1439 on the House side and SB 890 and SB 907 on the senate side have many life-saving measures, but due to their size and complexity, are in flux and expected to continue to morph over the next few of weeks. At this point, we can continue to support the Vision Zero components like allowing slower speeds in residential zones, no open alcohol containers, and primary seatbelt laws.
The session ends the first week of March, so we’ll know a lot more soon!
Ashland to Petersburg Trail
The Virginia Department of Transportation has released the completed study for the Ashland to Petersburg Trail! Knowing the final proposed alignment, the projected costs, and more of the details will allow localities to start building their sections. This was a tremendous effort of which we’ve been happy to be a part, and now begins the next phase of bringing awareness about the trail, encouraging people to get involved, staying laser focused on the various planning, funding, designing, and construction projects and timelines.
And it will be a bit lighter of a lift if our Central Virginia Transportation Authority, built on a partnership among our region’s localities that specifically identified this trail as a priority, passes the Senate in the coming weeks.
You can view the study by clicking here.
RVA Bike Month
We have a saying around here, and goes…”Bike Month is coming.” We say it year-round, because it’s such a big coordinating and planning effort and only seems to grow in size, diversity, and sophistication each year. We already have new ideas coming to reality for this year’s edition, now our 7th Annual RVA Bike Month, and we can’t wait to share them with you.
This year, we are going to need to extra help. Do you know someone who would be a great part-time, seasonal RVA Bike Month Assistant? Someone to help coordinate events and volunteers, convey equipment by bike and car to various events in every part of our region, and bring the stoke to thousands of bike friends, new and returning? Send them my way ([email protected]). We’re looking for a window of roughly mid-March to early June, around 25 hours a week.
Our annual planning party where events are scheduled on what I claim to be the largest calendar in the Commonwealth, until proven otherwise, will be in very early spring. So get your ideas cooking! And as always, www.rvabikemonth.com will be your one stop shop for bike month info.
Thanks for reading, and we can’t wait to enjoy some warm, dry weather for excellent bike rides soon.