Fourth Annual Active Mobility Summit Celebrates Community Wins and Launches New Collaborative Efforts

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. (March 21, 2024) – About 80 community members, advocates, and planners came together to brainstorm, collaborate, and share ways to improve walking, biking and access to the outdoors in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. The Piedmont Mobility Alliance – the innovative coalition that organized the event – convenes groups, agencies, businesses and everyday people to find new ways to tackle complex problems related to mobility. This year’s summit, hosted at the historic Wool Factory on the banks of the Rivanna River, focused on overcoming physical and social barriers felt throughout the community.

The Active Mobility Summit is all about creating new partnerships, so participants began the day mingling over baked goods and coffee for an hour of networking before the event formally got underway.

Welcoming introductions. Photo by Hugh Kenny / PEC

Celebrating Community Success

The Active Mobility Summit always devotes ample time toward informing the community of ongoing changes and opportunities and highlighting diverse perspectives and ideas.

Facilitators Dr. Selena Cozart and Peter Krebs invited attendees to share accomplishments from their organizations or positive things they had witnessed since the 2023 Active Mobility Summit.

All participants were encouraged to voice their perspective and concerns freely. Showcasing and cheering on each win doesn’t just recognize those hard efforts, which can be taken for granted,– it also fuels confidence in other changemakers seeking to make a difference. Significant, thoughtful change is happening and, as wins accumulate, the community gathers momentum and courage to tackle further challenging issues.

Below are a few examples of successes and opportunities that attendees shared:

  • Several attendees invited folks to join the Charlottesville Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, which meets on the first Thursday of each month at 5 p.m. and hosts a monthly neighborhood walk on the second Sunday of each month.
  • The Virginia Master Naturalists have been working on a “Nature for All” program that seeks to bring groups of people with limited access to nature, such as children or those with disabilities, into our greenspaces.
  • Albemarle planners are looking forward to the upcoming request-for-proposal for consultants to begin planning work on the Three Notched Trail between Charlottesville, Crozet and the Blue Ridge Tunnel in Afton.
  • Tourism For All is a program to make outdoor experiences more accessible and inviting for people of all backgrounds. The Rivanna River Company is working on such a program to make the river more accessible for people with a disability.
  • May is Bike Month. During that time, there will be a bike valet service at Fridays After Five. 

Read all 32 updates recorded in the meeting notes.

Local Planners panel (from left to right): Alberic Karina-Plun, Ben Chambers, Tim Padalino, Julia Monteith, Chris Gensic, Peter Krebs (moderator). Photo by Jason Espie

Local Planners Preview Upcoming Infrastructure Improvements

Following introductions, a roundtable of local government planners previewed some upcoming projects that will make walking and biking safer in the region.

Julia Monteith, from the University of Virginia, spoke about the University’s redevelopment zones, including the Ivy Road corridor and a green streets initiative at Brandon Avenue, which will establish green spaces and bioremediation basins.

In the spirit of creating a more active, natural landscape, Monteith highlighted the University’s pedestrian improvements along McCormick Road where road space was repurposed for much-needed expansive sidewalks, as well a new pedestrian bridge over Emmet Street, the North Grounds Athletics Promenade and many new trails on Observatory Hill.

Alberic Karina-Plun, Albemarle County’s Transportation Planner, shared many upcoming improvements to local walking and biking infrastructure, especially along major roadways such as Rio, Commonwealth, Avon and Fifth Street.

He noted critical pedestrian crossing improvements in Pantops and a new pedestrian bridge over US-29, and he mentioned Safe Routes to School, a new pedestrian promenade that will transform Free Bridge Lane and a new dashboard of transportation improvements.

Charlottesville City Transportation Planner Ben Chambers spoke about quick-build projects in the City, beginning with safe routes to school and extending to other important destinations.

He also spoke about long-term infrastructure improvements all along Fifth Street and revealed that the City’s new comprehensive list of proposed sidewalk improvements would be available for review shortly.

Because the City is bounded by two major stream valleys (plus the Rivanna River) Chris Gensic, Parks and Trails Planner for the City of Charlottesville said the City is pursuing a connective belt of trails along Moore’s Creek, Meadow Creek, and the Rivanna River, plus spokes connecting to downtown through corridors like Schenk’s Greenway, Pollock’s Branch and Rugby Avenue.

Watch the video recording of the panel discussion.

The City is currently in the process of undertaking a big-picture look at all of its parks and trails through a new Master Plan process. The community is encouraged to participate.

Tim Padalino, Albemarle’s Chief Parks Planner, expressed excitement for the Greenway trail connection along the stream valley from Charlottesville to Biscuit Run Park, which is scheduled to open this Fall. This network of greenways and bridges will also link the Southwood community to the park, shopping and the wider community.

He also touched on the emerging necklace of parks, greenways and river access points along the Rivanna River. This was a very fitting topic, given the summit’s location in historic Woolen Mills, from which several of the projects he mentioned are visible.

Read more of their extensive comments and updates in the meeting notes.

Community panelist members, moderated by Dr. Selena Cozart (right). Photo by Hugh Kenny / PEC

Perspectives from the Community

In keeping with Active Mobility Summit tradition, there was a moderated discussion with several community activists who are doing important work to foster walking, biking and active mobility in ways that are not always recognized.

Pastor Ken Edwards, Delphine Williams, and Ms. Vizena Howard spoke about the elevated importance of exercise and fresh air for stress relief. Dr. Cozart emphasized that this universal need is of elevated importance to Black Americans due to the disparate impact of stress from past and current injustice.

They spoke about the need to increase the visibility of Black runners and bikers and highlighted the Prolyfyck Run Creww, which remains a powerful force for togetherness, accessibility and representation within the Black running community and beyond. 

Watch the video recording of the Community Voices Discussion.

The youngest panelists, Charlottesville High School students Josie Fischman and Lila Castleman, shared their love for the outdoors and outdoor physical activity, whether it be running, walking or cycling. They stressed supporting women of all ages in pursuing recreational activities.

Gabriela Novoa, who is an avid biker, runner, and roller skater, not only affirmed how important it is for newcomers and diverse individuals to feel welcome, but also encouraged additional inclusivity practices such as translating transportation materials into Spanish and expanding safe pedestrian infrastructure throughout the city.

Outstanding Community Leader Vizena Howard with Peter Krebs, of PEC. Photo by Hugh Kenny / PEC.

Recognizing Community Leadership

The Mobility Alliance periodically recognizes local leaders and volunteers who go above and beyond standard expectations with handmade awards that are fun and kindheartedly goofy to embody our values of community and joyful camaraderie.

This year, the Alliance awarded Ms. Vizena Howard a golden crossing guard sash adorned with relevant badges for her dedication to advocating for 10th & Page Neighborhood’s historical character and ensuring pedestrian safety (especially as children make their way to and from school). A force of positivity, she embraces and connects community members of all ages while exemplifying action for safer streets.

Site visit to the Broadway corridor, where sidewalks and bike lanes are envisioned.
Photo by Faith Schweikert / PEC.

Taking a Break From Talking… By Walking!

The decision to host the summit at the Wool Factory was intentional. Situated along the Rivanna River, on the boundary of City and County, the location is ideal for site visits to nearby locations where interesting connectivity projects are either planned or underway. After lunch, summit attendees took part in three different walking tours.

One group hiked on the Rivanna Trail crossing a new pedestrian bridge that was one of the Mobility Alliance’s early wins. A second group walked to the nearby Broadway corridor, where Albemarle County is planning significant improvements for walking and biking as part of its economic development strategy. A third group visited Riverview Park, where the Rivanna Conservation Alliance is about to undertake a major project to improve river health and access to the water’s edge.

Apart from providing welcome doses of fresh air, these walks gave attendees a chance to enjoy the surroundings while seeing new possibilities first-hand.

Mid-day hike along the Rivanna Trail. Photo by Hugh Kenny / PEC.

Brainpower in Numbers: Action Teams

A crowd-sourced, participatory pitchfest highlighted the afternoon session. Several attendees presented ideas focused on improving mobility that require collaborative support in order to successfully launch and endure. Concepts might have been ongoing or drew inspiration from the summit’s morning ideas and discussions.

Following the open-floor presentations, attendees formed five groups that spent about 90 minutes developing these ideas. Attendees were free to float between groups as they followed a structured process to create strategic plans that set goals that could be accomplished immediately, in 90 days and in one year.  

The collective projects included:

Two other Action Teams that came about at prior summits were not discussed this year, but are worth mentioning as they have momentum of their own:

The Mobility Alliance’s bi-monthly meetings provide a venue for regular progress reports and additional support and resources for groups as needed.
View the worksheets and notes in the Summit Resource Document.

Photo by Hugh Kenny / PEC.

Commitments From the Mobility Summit Are Ongoing

This year’s Active Mobility Summit was just one tile placed toward creating a more accessible region. It is a process that has been taking place for more than these past four years and it will take the continuous placement of tiles to create the gapless mosaic of what the Piedmont’s transportation and outdoor spaces will look like in the future.

The Action Teams are already at work. Some of them have already met again before this recap could be drafted!

Because of the many mobility-related gatherings taking place this spring (such as Bike Month), the next full-on Mobility Alliance meeting will be on July 31 at 4 p.m. That gathering will provide a chance for the action teams to report progress and receive feedback and support.

If you would like to learn more about the Active Mobility Summit, the Piedmont Mobility Alliance or other local efforts to improve walking, biking, transportation, and trails, please contact Peter Krebs (  

Thank you to our sponsors, who made this event possible:

PEC volunteer Catherine Orescan contributed to this blog post. Catherine loves wildlife and is always looking for scenic hikes in the Shenandoah Valley.