Representatives from several dozen organizations, businesses, agencies, and a handful of passionate individuals came together for a virtual gathering on Friday, February 26, to strategically plan for better walking, biking, running, everyday access nature and active lifestyles in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia.
The Charlottesville Albemarle Active Mobility Summit was a half-day online meeting presented by The Piedmont Environmental Council via Zoom. It was a chance for professionals and committed advocates to share ideas and pool resources toward shared goals. It was also an important opportunity to meet new people and learn new ways to get involved in the community.
After a short introduction, Dr Selena Cozart facilitated an interactive process through which attendees proposed topics and entered small group discussions in the morning (30-minutes) and afternoon (one hour).
Session topics included:
- Planning activities for Bike Month , which is upcoming in May
- “Complete Street” demonstration projects and low-cost safety improvements
- Group bike rides and other ways to improve visibility
- Long trails, including the Three Notch’d Trail and a possible extension of the Virginia Capital Trail to Charlottesville
- Diversifying leadership of outdoor organizations
- Trail advocacy and expanding trail usership
- Low-stress bike routes across town
- Off-street neighborhood connections
- Mobile bike repair clinics
- Vision Zero policy
- Trail stewardship and volunteer coordination
Some of these discussions centered around concrete projects with budgets and precise timelines. Others were more focused on long-term policies or societal change. All groups codified their ideas and commitments in a shared electronic document that will be the basis of a joint work program.
“This is a discussion that I’ve been hoping to have for about 18 months,” said one attendee of her small group. “I’m glad to have had a home for that.”
Setting a Collective Agenda
Groups were encouraged to identify immediate, short- and medium-term action steps and continue their discussions independently. There will be a first large-group check-in opportunity at the April meeting of the Piedmont Mobility Alliance. At that time, group leaders will report on their progress and have the opportunity to solicit advice and resources from Alliance member organizations.
[Help select a meeting date for the Piedmont Mobility Alliance]
The Active Mobility Summit has been a long-term vision among local activists as a way to work together to solve difficult issues that no single organization can address alone.
“I think our voices are much stronger as a diverse group, ‘ commented Jay Hightman, of Cville Families for Safer Streets. “Breaking the big problem into smaller pieces and staying in touch with each other will bring us much closer to the goals we’ve set forth.”
Organizers hope that the summit will become an annual tradition and a core piece of a structured approach to making progress toward a better-connected community in Charlottesville and Albemarle. The next full summit is slated for the winter of 2022, with bi-monthly gatherings of the Piedmont Mobility Alliance in between.
The Active Mobility Summit was made possible by an Enriching Communities Grant from the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation and a contribution from a private donor. Find out how you can contribute to The Piedmont Environmental Council at www.pecva.org/give