Chesterfield County Candidate Responses to Biking and Walking Questions – 2023
For the 2023 Chesterfield County elections, Bike Walk RVA administered a candidate questionnaire to each person running for the board of Supervisors to see where they stand on issues relating to biking and walking. We asked each candidate the same four questions and have published the responses verbatim, up to the 200 word limit.
Note: Sports Backers is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and does not support nor oppose candidates nor political parties. Bike Walk RVA’s candidate questionnaire is strictly educational in nature.
1. If elected, how do you pledge to improve biking and walking in Chesterfield County and in your district?
Clover Hill District:
Greg Allen: The bikeway system is critical to create a healthy vibrant community of active people. A safe and connected bikeway system fosters a more resilient citizenry to economic downturns, pandemics, an energy crisis or rising fuel costs, and other societal interruptions. My pledge is to upgrade the current Bikeway Plan to implement a connected system of bikeways, sidewalks, and neighborhood by-way streets that enable people to navigate a fully connected community. Specifically in Clover Hill, most major streets are without sidewalks or bikeways that leave neighborhoods disconnected. My platform to reinvest in older neighborhoods includes sidewalks or bikeways along these major roads to enable residents to get to schools, stores, the library, and other destinations. My experience in implementing the Bikeways and Trails Plan for the past five years gives me an understanding of the commitment, planning, and engineering solutions needed to make this happen.
Jessica Schneider: I believe that we need more connectivity in Chesterfield because as it is, currently, if you don’t have a car, you’re very limited in what you can easily access. I understand that road cyclists should be safe on roads because they have the same usage rights as cars, unfortunately a lot of motorists are either not educated on the proper road etiquette and passing procedures, turning signals, etc or they just don’t pay attention! With that being said, we need to find a way to add biking lanes to our existing roads where possible to ensure the safety of bike riders. It would also be amazing if we could find a way to create “greenways” off of main roads (perhaps running behind business districts facing the roads) that would give residents an option for walking/biking from theirs neighborhood to restaurants, shopping, schools, libraries, parks etc. This would also serve as a natural green space buffer between residential and commercial, which we desperately need in Chesterfield.
Kevin Carroll: In my involvement as Vice Chair and Chair of the Central Virginia Transportation Authority I voted to appropriate $105 million to fund the Fall Line Trail. This was the first-time funds were designated for this project. I also negotiated with the Commonwealth Transportation Board to secure an additional $42 Million. The Fall Line starts behind Virginia State University in Ettrick which is in the Matoaca District and extends north through Chesterfield all the way to Ashland. In the future the trail below Chesterfield along the Appomattox River will also tie into the Fall Line. This trail is a project through the Friends of the Lower Appomattox.
Erin Phelan: I’ve spoken with many residents who are in favor of creating more and better bike and pedestrian connectivity throughout the county. In fact, this is reportedly the most requested item the Board of Supervisors hears from residents. Additionally, as an avid cyclist for years, I recognize the need for more extensive and safe cycling & pedestrian infrastructure throughout the county. I’m committed to ensuring that, rather than being an afterthought, bike and pedestrian infrastructure is an integral component in the county’s overall planning and budgeting processes. Places like schools, libraries, town centers, neighborhoods, and other gathering places need to be connected by multi-use paths by default, and our planning documents must support this goal with specific actions and timelines for completion. I will work hard to coordinate with residents and other stakeholders at all levels to support and encourage the planning and buildout of bike and pedestrian infrastructure throughout the county, using a multifaceted approach considering both short and long term goals for the county.
2. Pedestrian fatalities have seen 30+% increases in RVA and Virginia in the past year, the worst they have been in almost two decades and standing out nationally. What measures would you take to improve safe access to biking and walking for health and connection to opportunity in your district?
Clover Hill District:
Greg Allen: First is to understand and address all those locations where pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities have occurred to determine safety measures in those areas. It is my belief that all future bikeways need to be separated from the road. Five-foot bike lanes next to car lanes are unsafe. Converting roads with four lanes into modified two lane roads with a good separation for the bikeway is a reasonable option. Bikeways along roads should have shade to promote their use by adding trees in the grassed median between the bikeway and road. This increases the safety for pedestrians and bicyclists and enables increased use during hot weather which maintains regular, healthier outcomes for the users. Adequate street lighting and electronic crosswalk signage that works in tandem with stoplight systems is needed to ensure safe road crossings for all users. Adopt the Chesterfield Bikeway and Trails sign package prepared by Parks and Recreation to help people understand how to use the bikeway system and identify where they are if they need help.
Jessica Schneider: Living off of Hull St on the east end of the district, I see people walking or riding their bikes on the shoulder of the road every day, and a lot of these people are carrying groceries or walking to or from work and putting their lives at risk because the speed limit is 45-55 which means people are actually going 55-65. They dart across 3 lanes of traffic and stand in the median waiting to rush across the other 3 lanes…this is totally unacceptable!! I realize that it would affect traffic light timing, but we need to put crosswalks at some of the major intersections along Hull, Midlo and Ironbridge and if that’s not feasible look into pedestrian/bike bridges over. We should also add bike/walking trails along one side of these major thoroughfares at a minimum.
Kevin Carroll: In my term on the board, I have secured funding for a walking / bike path that will start at Hickory Road and extend along River Road to the Ettrick Matoaca Library. This path will provide a safe way for people in the community to walk or bike from the Village of Ettrick to the library. I have secured funding for the third phase of sidewalks in Deer Run and it will start next year. I have secured funding for a signalized cross walk at the intersection of Fox Club Parkway and Hull Street to make it safer for children crossing Hull Street to attend Cosby High School. I required as part of a development case for the applicant to upgrade existing crosswalks in the Foxcroft neighborhood and fund two new ones. I will continue to speak with people in the community to address safety issues. I recently met with the Westerleigh Homeowners association to hear concerns relating to increased traffic in the neighborhood due to construction. I will be working with the association to implement solutions such as crosswalks and increased safety signs.
Erin Phelan: Several residents I’ve spoken to have pointed out specific areas of concern with respect to cycling and pedestrian safety; even residents who aren’t cyclists themselves are in favor of improved safety measures for cyclists, because they don’t want to be involved in an accident themselves. I would prioritize high risk areas like these for safety upgrades such as signage, lighting, and traffic calming measures. Funding sources for making immediate safety improvements in high risk areas should be those that are most readily accessible, including the districts’ respective discretionary funds, which I would wholeheartedly approve. VDOT maintains a GIS-based database of bike-related incidents that should also be used as a reference in prioritizing safety improvements. Longer term projects such as adding new trail sections to improve connectivity would require more planning for funding and construction. I’m committed to ensuring that, rather than being an afterthought, bike and pedestrian infrastructure is an integral component in the county’s overall planning and budgeting processes.
3. In the last three years, the Fall Line has raised $252 million for planning and construction from local, regional, state, and federal sources. This signature 43-mile paved multi-use trail will route through seven localities in Central Virginia, connecting existing communities to places of commerce, recreation, education, employment, and opportunity as a backbone of active transportation in our region and a destination unto itself.
How will the Fall Line benefit your community, and how can spur connections be built to create more community connections to it?
Clover Hill District:
Greg Allen: Chesterfield is proud to be the jurisdiction with the greatest mileage of the Fall Line Trail. The Fall Line Trail will promote significant economic reinvestment along its entire length. The trail travels through some of the oldest developed sections of Chesterfield that have fallen into decline and are ripe for redevelopment. Young people will start realizing that the older neighborhoods have good solid housing and will want to buy and live here for the benefits of easy access to the trail. This in turn brings active young parents to be involved in the aging elementary schools and support the schools as young parents tend to do. Tourism will increase enabling more food and entertainment venues that attract new development and homeowners along the trail. I have worked with our Transportation Department on many proposed spur routes off the Fall Line Trail to improve the rebirthing of the Route 1 corridor through Chesterfield County. As head of the Bikeway Committee, I helped guide the implementation of segments of these spurs as development has occurred. Chester Village will have one key spur along Chester Road that will take bicyclists into the heart of Chester Village. Part of this spur is constructed.
Jessica Schneider: The Fall Line Trail when completed, will provide an amazing opportunity to travel the RVA region all the way from Ashland-VSU via bike. To make this even more beneficial, I believe we should provide options for park and rides at major junctions, as well as GTRC connections to make this a viable alternative to traveling by car and reduce carbon emissions in the region. I would love to add bike ride/share racks where people that don’t own bikes could also take advantage of the trail by renting bikes at an affordable rate. As a way of supporting local business along the route, it would be great to provide trail signs with attractions/amenities coming up along the trail and businesses could rent space or sponsor signs with their business on it.
Kevin Carroll: The Fall line will provide an excellent opportunity for people to exercise and enjoy the beauty of central Virginia. It will also provide an opportunity for people to visit our area and stimulate our economy by staying in our hotels and eating at our local restaurants. When finished you will be able to take the train from Ashland to Ettrick with your bike then cycle back to Ashland on the Fall Line.
Erin Phelan: How will the Fall Line benefit your community, and how can spur connections be built to create more community connections to it?
Over 17 miles of the 43-mile Fall Line trail will be located in Chesterfield County so we have a huge opportunity to establish connections within our communities. I would prioritize connections between neighborhoods and schools, libraries, and similar public places. Kids especially need more ways to get around and interact without a car, and this trail could be immensely beneficial for that purpose. The Fall Line Trail also presents economic opportunities, especially when it comes to establishing small businesses and promoting an alternative and unique way of experiencing Chesterfield and the region.
4. Establishing safe and accessible places for people to bike and walk for transportation and recreation will require additional funding for capital projects, either in the form of Federal grants, State revenue-sharing, or local capital improvement dollars.
Do you support pursuing additional funding for biking and walking infrastructure? If yes, how?
Clover Hill District:
Greg Allen: Yes, I fully support bikeway funding. I recommend four approaches to bikeway investment:
1. A county bikeway fund that enables a developer to extend their bikeway beyond their site to the next street intersection or destination. Developers can build bikeways at a fraction of the cost of a publicly funded project. As long as the county provides the right of way and the funding mechanism, a developer can build out a full block or more of bikeway so that VDOT can inspect and accept the bikeway into the State system for maintenance.
2. Add a trail on every bond referendum. The East Coast Greenway, which has segments already constructed, would provide connections to schools and parks including Pocahontas State Park to residents throughout central and southern Chesterfield. This promotes spur connections by developers and the county.
3. Establish regular funding in our CIP for County Transportation and Parks and Rec to match outside funding sources and provide staffing to manage these projects.
4. Fund our Parks and Rec Department to maintain trails outside of the VDOT right of way. This is our internal agreement, but no funding has been provided for Parks and Rec.
Jessica Schneider: Absolutely! There are portions of the Fall Line Trail already funded, and some of those funds are from the CVTA, so we should continue revenue sourcing there as we as through state and federal grants. In addition I believe that Chesterfield would benefit from a 3-4% meals tax to help create addition revenue streams that will enhance our services.
Kevin Carroll: Yes. Requiring private development projects to include sidewalks and biking trails is one way I have already required new trails to be created. I believe I have demonstrated in my time on the CVTA that I can work together with other leaders in the region to fund trails and bikeways. Funds can be designated for projects through the regional transportation authorities. In my time on the Richmond TPO and the Tri Cities TPO I have voted to approve funding for sidewalks and trails. Virginia state code 33.2-1510 established guidelines for funding bikeways to public recreational areas and is another resource for local and state projects. As a standing policy our Chesterfield Transportation Department seeks out all funding opportunities for bikeways and trails and brings them to the Board of Supervisors for our input and approval. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title33.2/chapter15/section33.2-1510/
Erin Phelan: Yes, I wholeheartedly support this. There are many sources of such funding and I believe obtaining the necessary funding requires a collaborative approach with various stakeholders. I’m committed to working with others — whether procuring funding, working through the planning process, establishing budgets, etc. — as we work toward a more connected county and promote health, safety, and well-being for all our residents. I also believe in engaging the community as much as possible throughout all stages and will work hard on this effort to keep residents informed of our plans and progress.