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Local leaders adopt BikePedRVA 2045 plan, calling for additional 770 miles of bike and pedestrian infrastructure

A recently approved plan is calling for an additional 770 miles of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure to promote safety, accessibility, and equity across the region.

Trevor Dickerson

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A recently approved plan is calling for an additional 770 miles of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure to promote safety, accessibility, and equity across the region.

On May 5th, the Policy Board for the Richmond Regional Transportation Planning Organization (RRTPO) adopted BikePedRVA 2045, a visionary framework tied to immediate recommendations for activating bicycling and pedestrian transportation throughout the region.

Since the last iteration of the bike and pedestrian plan in 2004, the popularity and necessity of active transportation – a term used to describe travel by human energy, such as walking, bicycling, or by a mobile assist device – has greatly increased, and new micro-mobility options allow for longer trips using e-bikes, e-scooters, and other technology.

The adopted plan emphasizes mobility for people of all ages and abilities through a continuous and recognizable pedestrian and bicycle network across Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, and Powhatan counties, the town of Ashland, and the city of Richmond.

BikePedRVA 2045 focuses on building a cross-regional transportation network of shared-use paths, interconnected and supported by local-level projects for bike lanes, sidewalks, neighborhood connectors, bikeable streets, and complete streets elements that together will create more accessible systems for people walking, rolling, scooting, cycling or taking transit.

The greater Richmond region currently has an estimated 136 miles dedicated to safer cycling infrastructure, such as shared-use paths, cycle tracks, and bike lanes. Projects identified in BikePedRVA 2045 like the creation of the Fall Line Trail and the extension of the Virginia Capital Trail set a target for another 121 miles of shared used paths and over 650 miles of bicycle and pedestrian routes in the region over the next twenty years.

Improving public safety for individuals walking and biking is a central call to action for the regional plan. According to Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) data, cyclist and pedestrian fatalities have increased by nearly 45 percent from 2015 to 2020. The plan’s authors point to how historically disinvested communities are the most vulnerable to pedestrian injury and fatalities connected to vehicular crashes.

“The BikePedRVA plan is a significant step forward for the region,” said PlanRVA Director of Transportation Chet Parsons. “We know that physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health and quality of life. When we create more equitable opportunities for walking and biking infrastructure, it’s an important investment in public health. I know this work will positively impact future generations.”

A steering committee of the region’s localities, transportation agencies, and advocates began meeting to guide the plan in 2019. Organizers fielded virtual surveys and met with a wide cross-section of community members throughout the final review period for public input in building a working website of resources to implement BikePedRVA 2045.

BikePedRVA 2045 serves as a companion plan to ConnectRVA 2045, a long-range transportation plan that guides the region’s transportation investments for all modes of travel including transit, highways, bicycles, and pedestrians. The active transportation best practices in the BikePedRVA 2045 framework will help guide bike and pedestrian infrastructure priorities in the overall ConnectRVA 2045 plan.

Created in 1974, the RRTPO helps facilitate collaboration and cooperation among residents and stakeholders related to funding and planning the future of the region’s transportation network. PlanRVA – a regional organization focused on community development, emergency management, the environment, and transportation – provides staffing to assist the RRTPO in its administration, project evaluation, prioritization, and other identified needs.

To access the plan and implementation resources, visit http://BikePedRVA.org.

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.