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With demand heavy, Sports Backers re-launch Bike Walk RVA Academy

Andy Thompson

January 9, 2015 12:18pm
Bike Walk RVA's 'Bike Academy' will train community members to advocate for new bikeways and safer streets.

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

I first wrote about the Sports Backers’ plans for a “Bike Walk RVA Academy” back in August. The idea, said Max Hepp-Buchanan, the SBs’ Director of Bike Walk RVA, was to create an “effective community of advocates on the ground making sure (the city’s new bike-related projects) are designed with people age 8 to 80 in mind.”

The first Academy launched on October 1, and last month the first class of 20 community bike/walk advocates graduated. The response to the program was so positive that the Sports Backers announced yesterday they’ll be re-launching the Bike Walk RVA Academy in February.

“The Autumn 2014 program received 65 applications for 20 available spots,” said Hepp-Buchanan. “We couldn’t possibly accept everyone we wanted in the first round of the program, so we’ve decided to expedite the re-launch of the Bike Walk RVA Academy in Richmond. We want to take this unique opportunity to develop as many effective advocates for walking and biking infrastructure in the city before moving the program into the surrounding counties this fall.”

The Bike Walk RVA Academy is an eight-week program designed to develop passionate advocates in Richmond into on-the-ground leaders in the movement for comfortable and connected walking and biking infrastructure. Participants will be empowered with the tools, knowledge, and confidence to effectively advocate for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects in their neighborhoods that allow everybody to get where they need to go on foot or by bike.

The Bike Walk RVA Academy aims to train and equip community leaders. Credit: Sports Backers

The Bike Walk RVA Academy aims to train and equip community leaders. Credit: Sports Backers

“With the final draft of the City’s Bicycle Master Plan coming out soon, and now with talk of a bike share program in Richmond, we need strong voices in our communities,” 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.”

Beginning on February 25, 2015, the Bike Walk RVA Academy will meet once a week and wrap up by the end of April. People of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities are encouraged to apply.

The Bike Walk RVA Academy is offered free of charge, but entry into each program is competitive. Applications for both programs are now being accepted through January 30. Full workshop schedules, more information, and the online applications can be found at

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?