On November 5, residents in Henrico County’s Varina District will vote for a member of the Board of Supervisors.
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 County 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.
The next member of the Board of Supervisors from the Varina 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 Tyrone Nelson and Angela Rowe.
Question 1 – Safe Streets
Some of the most dangerous streets in the Varina District include Nine Mile Road, Laburnum Road, and Williamsburg Road. These roads are also home to many important destinations such as shopping centers, schools, and churches, and each of them have been the site of numerous pedestrian 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?
“We need to increase safety measures on our streets, including bike paths, sidewalks for pedestrians and increased crosswalks. I will continue to work with Police and my fellow Board members to fund such measures.”
“I will prioritize more strategic infrastructure funding, including to significantly enhance the quality and safety of our roads and public transportation services and enhancements for disabled citizens. I will advocate for more funding for curbs and gutters in the more rural areas, sidewalks in busy areas, seated and covered bus transportation kiosks and extended service hours and locations across the greater Varina District and Henrico County.”
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?
“Yes, I support pursuing funding through all means – federal, state, local and exploring public private partnerships, where applicable.”
“Yes. I will prioritize funding for infrastructure/capital projects to enhance the quality and safety of our roads and streets and advocate for leveraging the maximum funds available through federal grants, state and regional sources, as well as funds that may be available from the private sector. I will collaborate with regional municipalities in these efforts.”
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 Henrico County? What steps will you take to see that these policies and programs are approved or put into practice?
“I want to see more bike paths, more sidewalks, more pedestrian crosswalks and I will support funding all of them. We should also have more available and free bike safety courses.”
“I will advocate for the county to undertake an evaluation of existing policies and programs to identify potential gaps and opportunities to enhance and incorporate more pedestrian and bike-friendly wellness and transportation options. I also plan to advocate for a district and county-wide survey to obtain citizens’ feedback and input for shaping a shared vision for the future.”
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?
“I will advocate that we collaborate with regional, state, and national agencies and organizations regarding best practices, policies, programs and initiatives that eliminate pedestrian fatalities. The beliefs of the Vision Zero approach are generally ones that I espouse. However, I will want to ensure that any initiatives implemented, align with much needed infrastructure funding and improvements required in my district and across Henrico County, to facilitate successful outcomes and results.”
Question 5 – Plans and Projects
In the last four 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?
“Yes. I would coordinate such an effort with our Transportation team and a citizens council.”
“Yes. It would be aligned with an overall more aggressive infrastructure/capital projects strategic plan previously mentioned.”
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?
“I strongly support this project. During my term, I have advanced the Capital Bike Trail which has now become a significant amenity, appreciated by Varina residents. Interconnecting these recreational trails will only increase opportunity for more people in the region and for my constituents.”
“I will seek input from citizens, as well as collaborate with regional, state and federal agencies on such a project to evaluate and determine its viability and financial impact to Henrico County. Such input will be sought via the district and county-wide citizens survey that I will advocate for when elected.”
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.