The League of American Bicyclists recently revealed its latest state rankings, and Virginia came out at #16. That’s one step up from last year. Frankly, I am surprised that Virginia is ranked as high as it is.
What will it take to get Virginia into the top 10 Bicycle Friendly States? First, let’s take a look at what Virginia is doing right.
Bike Virginia is a long-established multiday ride that attracts riders from all over the country. Bike Virginia welcomes cyclists to rural parts of the state that might not otherwise be aware of bicycling’s economic impact resulting from thousands of bicyclists descending on a small town. That’s got to count for something.
Arlington County is a national leader in bicycle-friendliness. It might well carry the rest of us into the #16 spot. Those of us in other urban areas in Virginia could learn a lot from Arlington. They do it right.
Virginia Capital Trail, while incomplete, has come a long way and is generally considered a Good Thing for bicycling in Virginia.
Richmond 2015 is raising awareness of bicycling, at least in Richmond.
Bicycle Advocacy organizations are active in lobbying at the state level. The statewide Virginia Bicycling Federation should be commended for its efforts (although we need more people to get involved).
That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. Please comment with other thoughts.
Now for what Virginia can do better. The LAB already spelled out what we can do better on the Report Card. I’ll review and maybe add a few of my own ideas.
- Adopt a vulnerable users law /safe passing law/ 3-foot rule…whatever you want to call it, just pass it already. Mississippi has a 3-foot law, for crying out loud. Mississippi!. We can do better.
- Adopt a dooring law. We shouldn’t have to legislate common sense, but unfortunately we need to.
- Infrastructure! In order to become a bicycle-friendly state, Virginia must become…wait for it…bicycle-friendly. That means bike lanes in urban, suburban and rural areas. Acknowledge that bicycles are a legitimate form of transportation by building bicycle infrastructure on our state’s roads.
- Establish a state funding source for bicycle projects and programs that promote, encourage, and enable safety.
- Apparently, Virginia actually dis-incentivises the creation of bike lanes by reducing funding to communities that provide bike lanes and center turn lanes because doing so reduces the number of car lanes. This is new to me. Virginia needs to stop this.
- Hold a state Bicycle Summit. North Carolina does this, and they are ranked #26!
- Establish actual goals to change the transportation mode share. This means adopting policies and implementing programs that get more people on bikes for transportation.
…and a few of my own…
- The state Capital, Richmond, should be a leader in bicycle-friendliness. That will take political leadership and real implementation power at the Bicycle-Pedestrian coordinator level. And Richmond will be a model for other cities and counties in the Commonwealth.
- VDOT should promote and implement bicycle and pedestrian improvements in every project. Every. Single. One.
- Driver’s Education should include a segment on bicycle safety for drivers. You can only get your driver’s license if you pass the bicycle safety part of the exam. It will education people and maybe make them think twice when they are out driving.
In the end, Virginia has to want to be more bicycle-friendly if it is going to move up in the state rankings. Words are not enough.
What are your ideas? How can Virginia get to #15 or even #10 the next time LAB releases its report cards on the states?
Juliellen Sarver is a planner from Richmond, and among other things, an avid bicyclist and advocate (Pedal RVA).