Albemarle and Charlottesville reached an important milestone this spring when the Jefferson Area Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan received final approval. This document maps a comprehensive network of bike lanes, sidewalks, and shared-use paths that connect Charlottesville and Albemarle neighborhoods to schools, shopping, downtown, and natural areas.
By attaching it to their Comprehensive Plan, Albemarle County encoded bike/pedestrian connectivity into its vision for the future. Infrastructure of this kind is safe, appealing, and useful, improving the quality of life for all residents, and providing everyday access to fresh air, relaxation, and the natural world. It also increases transportation options while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and air, noise, and water pollution. Charlottesville intends to similarly reference the report in its forthcoming Comprehensive Plan as well.
Pulling this regional bike and pedestrian plan together was just the first step. Now comes the hard work of transforming a plan into reality, and getting the plan’s projects installed “on the ground”. PEC is doing this work because we want results. The Plan’s ambitious recommendations will require increased local funding, cooperation between governments and among agencies, and sustained advocacy and engagement from residents, organizations, and businesses.
There are good signs so far. Albemarle County’s next budget includes a new multimillion-dollar commitment to bike/pedestrian quality of life projects in the urban core. The City of Charlottesville has multiple projects underway and has increased its commitment as well.
Implementation of the Plan’s ambitious recommendations cannot happen without the strong support and sustained advocacy from area residents. We worked with several partner organizations to craft a broad letter of endorsement to show leaders, funders, and other potential partners that the community is solidly behind this vision. Hundreds of individuals and organizations have already signed on.
As we advocate for durable physical connectivity, we are also actively working to nourish the robust civic infrastructure needed to bring about positive change through activities such as our social bike rides (see On the Ground). These relaxed all-ages, all-ability rides make bicyclists more visible in the community, encourage safe bicycling, and create a stronger network of advocates. We are working with neighborhoods, homeowners and community groups to create new connections to parks and other resources.
PEC is also planning a bike/pedestrian summit for the fall, connecting individuals and other advocacy groups that share the desire to improve bike/pedestrian connectivity in Charlottesville and Albemarle. PEC is also planning an active mobility advocacy summit to connect groups and organizations that share the desire to improve bike/pedestrian connectivity in Charlottesville and Albemarle. The purpose of the event will be to organize and focus the energies of both traditional and non-traditional partners toward rapid implementation of the Jefferson Area Plan. We will be looking for new alliances between groups and commitments on specific actionable steps.
The community is galvanized behind a shared vision for connectivity; now the real work begins. You can read the Jefferson Area Plan, add your name to the letter of support and learn more by visiting www.pecva.org/cvillegreenways.