RVBA Board Members (left to right) Tom Gates, Gary Larrowe, Kevin Boggess. Chris Morrill; not pictured Mike McEvoy
Roanoke Va. – (Sept. 27, 2016) – On September 7, 2016, the City of Roanoke and the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority received the prestigious Governor’s Technology Award for Cross-Boundary Collaboration at a ceremony during the annual COVITS conference in Richmond, Virginia.
The Award recognizes local, state and educational public sector information technology (IT) projects that have improved government service delivery and efficiency as chosen by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson and Chief Information Officer of the Commonwealth Nelson Moe.
Despite the title, this article isn’t about bicycle crashes. It’s about all kinds of traffic crashes. Auto vs. auto, auto vs. bike, and auto vs. person.
Traffic crashes are deadly, destructive, and common. They claim lives and inflict serious injuries that change lives forever. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among children up to age 19.
We can prevent that. We can prevent traffic crashes and we can alleviate the most destructive kinds of traffic crashes.
Let me reiterate that. We can save 700 lives per year in Virginia. We can prevent thousands of serious, life-changing injuries every year.
How can we do that? Before I explain what my bicycle has to do with it, let’s first consider an important element of crashes: speed.
The faster a car is moving, the more severe the crash. That’s not just common sense. It’s backed up by physics and observational studies. A difference of just 5 or 10 miles per hour can be the difference between life and death, between a close call and a lifelong disability.
The link between speed and crash severity is particularly clear when considering the auto vs. person crash.
When a car traveling 20 mph strikes a person, 90% of the time that person will survive.
Increase the speed to 30 mph, and only half the time will the person survive.
When hit at 40 mph, 90% of the time the person will die.
In Roanoke, 500 of the 600 miles of City streets have a 25 mph speed limit—but the typical speed is 33 mph. Just 7 mph over the speed limit can be the difference between walking away from a crash and paralyzed for life. It is literally the difference between life and death.
So how do we get people to slow down? I often hear, “Roanoke drivers are terrible,” or “People here just drive too fast.” (Every place believes their drivers are the worst!) We talk about traffic speeds as the result of driver decisions.
But many factors influence those decisions. A speed limit sign is just the beginning. We can use many tools to slow traffic speeds, depending on context: speed bumps, show-your-speed radar, enforcement, outreach campaigns, to name a few. New York, and other cities, found that bike lanes reduced injuries and fatalities for all users—not just bicyclists (for more data, see New York City’s Vision Zero report). Focusing on bicycle safety had the side effect of traffic calming.
When we make streets safe for my bicycle, the streets are safer for everyone—bicycling, walking, and driving.
Thank you Roanoke for new bike lanes, narrowing travel lanes, and other traffic calming efforts so we can ALL be safer traveling on streets. Keep up the good work and motorists, keep an eye out for my bicycle and slow down!
RVARC staff recently attended a training held by the USDA at the Greenfield Training and Education Center on new review processes for assessing the environmental impacts of USDA funded projects. This training followed adoption of a new set of environmental policies and procedures on the part of the USDA Rural Development Agency (the Rural Utilities Service, the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, and the Rural Housing Service) that went into effect on April 1st of this year. These regulations meet the requirements for the USDA to “assess and consider the impacts of proposed federal actions…to the human environment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and other applicable federal, state, and local environmental laws.” (RD Instruction 1970-B, Exhibit C)
The new rules can be found under code 7 CFR 1970, and replace previous regulations 7 CFR Part 1794 and 7 CFR Part 1940-G. The rules simplify the review process, bringing reviews for all services and projects under the same regulations. Recipients of assistance from the Rural Development Agency will find their project classified as following one of three review paths. Projects will require documentation in the form of Categorical Exclusions (CE), Environmental Assessments (EA) or Environmental Impact Statements (EIS). An applicant to a Rural Development program is responsible for consulting with agency staff to determine which track they should follow early in the process. They are also responsible for contacting relevant state and Federal agencies as appropriate. Applicants should be aware that the USDA environmental review process does not replace other required review processes at the state or local level, and should contact the relevant officials accordingly.
The USDA Rural Development programs offer valuable opportunities in the form of grants and loans to localities, businesses, and individuals. More information about their programs can be found here. RVARC staff is happy to provide more information to the public about the new review process as requested.