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Sports Backers launch ‘Bike Walk RVA Academy’

Andy Thompson

August 4, 2014 10:50am

Bike Walk RVA (a branch of the Sports Backers) is launching the Bike Walk RVA Academy this fall, which is designed to recruit, train, and grow the number of people in Richmond who are effective spokespeople for safe and comfortable walking and biking infrastructure.

Bike Walk RVA's 'Bike Academy' will train community members to advocate for new bikeways and safer streets.

The Sports Backers ‘Bike Walk RVA Academy’ will train community members to advocate for new bikeways and safer streets.

The Bike Walk RVA Academy will leverage the momentum built from the upcoming UCI Road Cycling World Championships, Bike Walk RVA’s ongoing Connect RVA campaign, the development of the City’s first Bicycle Master Plan, and additional funding allocated for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the City of Richmond’s 2014/2015 capital budget.

“There are already a lot of strong voices out there for safe streets and new bikeways,” said Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Bike Walk RVA for the Sports Backers. “We simply want to offer them the tools we think are needed to help make our shared vision of a safe, comfortable, and connected region a reality.”

This spring, Richmond City Council and the Mayor’s office passed a City budget that includes $4.5 million to build new bike lanes on Richmond’s streets as well as bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure along the riverfront. The City is also finalizing its first Bicycle Master Plan, which plots out a full network of lanes and paved trails to be built in the coming years.

“Now that we have some real funding and a city-wide plan to start building a network of bikeways and paved trails, we need effective community advocates on the ground making sure these new projects are designed with people age 8 to 80 in mind,” explained Hepp-Buchanan. “You shouldn’t have to be strong and fearless to ride a bike or walk to places you need to go on a regular basis.”

What Franklin St. would look like with a road diet and bike lanes. Credit: Marc Kaplan/Sports Backers

What Franklin St. would look like with a road diet and bike lanes. Credit: Marc Kaplan/Sports Backers

Beginning on October 1, 2014, The Bike Walk RVA Academy will meet once a week through October and November, finishing with a graduation ceremony in December. Though the program is free, entry into the program is competitive and Bike Walk RVA is now accepting applications through September 4.

People of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities are encouraged to apply. Click here to find the full workshop schedule and online application.

About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?