Eight years ago this week the Old Dominion released its State Bicycle Policy Plan. This document still guides planning by the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, which provides planning assistance to state and local transportation planners.
Back in 2010 and 2011 FABB provided extensive comments on the draft plan and was pleased to see that most of our comments were included in the final version.
The plan’s two main goals were to increase bicycling by a diverse population for all trip purposes and improve riders’ safety and comfort throughout Virginia while reducing what it euphemistically referred to as “bicycle crashes,” a reference to motor vehicle-bicycle collisions. Bicycling is increasing and likely will see more growth as the benefits for riders and communities become more evident. But, much more work needs to be done on safety and comfort and to reduce injuries and deaths.
The plan is contributing to progress across the state as VDOT has made greater efforts during road construction and rehabilitation projects to connect and close gaps with nearby bicycle facilities. As evidenced by FABB’s work on the I-66 parallel trail being constructed as part of the I-66 Outside the Beltway project, constant attention and advocacy is still required to ensure that trails are well designed and that the connections and gap closures are safe and efficient.
The state’s Bicycle Advisory Committee does a fine job monitoring progress and sharing information among VDOT, other state and federal agencies, advocacy groups, and citizens regarding bicycling opportunities across the commonwealth. But, a review and update to the policy plan is overdue.
The plan focused on a five-year timeframe for most of its priority recommendations. While these recommendations still hold up, it is worth noting that the past eight years have witnessed a rapid expansion of bike share programs, the start of micro-mobility options such as scooters, and the advent of e-bikes. In addition, the success of earlier efforts to encourage bicycling, especially with regard to programs like Safe Routes to School, would seem to call for revisions to the policy plan. FABB will be following up on this important matter and can always use some extra help. If you would like to join us in advocating for better and safer bicycling, please contact us at [email protected].