Sunday, November 13, 2011

VBF Fall Retreat

VBF Fall Retreat
On Saturday we attended the Virginia Bicycling Federation (VBF) Fall Retreat. VBF is a "statewide organization working to change public policy and community attitudes, to improve the safety, convenience, and acceptance of bicycling." The agenda for the retreat included discussion of the following topics: the State Bicycle Policy Plan, review of the updated state bicycle map Bicycling in Virginia, U.S. Bike Routes 1 & 76, legislative priorities for 2012, the 2015 World Road Cycling Championships to be held in Richmond, the Virginia Mountain Bike Trail, and an update on the U.S. Transportation Bill.

The State Bicycle Policy Plan was recently released and could have a very positive impact on development of bicycle facilities. Unfortunately there was little time for discussion of the plan. VBF did have copies (front and back) of revisions to the current VA bike map. It appeared that relatively minor changes are being proposed. Several of us recorded comments on the draft map. I think the map could contain much more detail.

Ride after Saturday's meeting
We spent considerable time discussing routing and signage of U.S. Bike Routes (USBR) 1 & 76. USBR 1 extends along the Mt. Vernon Trail to Mt. Vernon and continues along the southern part of the county to Occoquan. There are few signs and bike conditions are poor in several sections, especially along U.S. Route 1/Richmond Highway. VDOT is responsible for maintaining and signing the routes in Virginia and submitting changes to AASHTO. See a detailed map of the Virginia portion of these routes and an update on the routes from Adventure Cycling.

Of note, a new hostel in downtown Richmond is under construction and should be open in 2012. It is located very close to the East Coast Greenway and USBR 1, and not far from USBR 76.

Richmond will be the host for the 2015 World Road Cycling Championships, which is expected to draw 500,000 cycling fans to Richmond, visitors who will likely be traveling to other parts of the state. The races are expected to have a $135,000,000 impact on the Richmond area.

Chris Scott of Shenandoah Mountain Touring talked about a proposal for linking several mountain bike trails to create the Virginia Mountain Bike Trail. See a video clip of a ride on a portion of the trail.

Representatives from American Bikes and the Alliance for Biking and Walking gave an update on the U.S. Transportation Bill. Funding for Transportation Enhancements, which provided the bulk of funding for bike/ped projects in the past, has been cut and future projects will be lumped together with Safe Routes to School, recreational trails, and environmental mitigation projects. Even worse, states can opt-out of bike and ped funding altogether. The Senate bill should come before the full Senate this week. Stay tuned for possible advocacy alerts.

One of the main goals of the retreat was to develop a consensus on a legislative agenda for 2012. Bud Vye of VBF gave a recap of the attempt last year to pass the 3 foot passing bill. After some discussion it was agreed that VBF would try to find a sponsor for the 3 foot passing bill again this year. Bike Charlottesville cyclists are working on a bill to make "dooring" (opening a car door into the path of a bicycle or other vehicle) subject to a ticket and fine. We'll post info on the FABB blog during the session, as will VBF.

The day was capped with a 15 mile ride through the beautiful Virginia countryside. Thanks to VBF for organizing and hosting the summit.

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