Job Announcement

The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission is seeking a energetic, passionate, and public-minded professional to serve as the Director of RIDE Solutions, the Commission’s commuter assistance and active transportation program.  As Director of RIDE Solutions, candidates will manage the multi-regional commuter assistance program applying creative marketing, public outreach, event management, and other strategies to educate and encourage drivers to switch from single-occupant vehicles (SOVs) to high-occupant vehicle modes (HOVs) such as transit, vanpool, bicycle, walking, and carpool.  Successful candidates will show expertise in developing, deploying, and measuring successful behavior change marketing campaigns, working with diverse constituents and organizations to identify needs and develop appropriate services, and will demonstrate knowledge and enthusiasm for the ability of mobility and transportation choice to transform communities, neighborhoods, and individuals.  Candidates should also be familiar with the ways that historical mode-specific investments have shaped the physical form of our communities and supported or limited the opportunities of diverse populations with those communities.

The Director of RIDE Solutions will be responsible for managing and growing the program capacity, including increasing the capacity of RIDE Solutions to deliver services in the realm of commuter services, mobility and safety.  As a Director-level position within the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, the Director of RIDE Solutions will also be responsible for setting and meeting the RIDE Solutions budget, managing and evaluating staff, including one direct staff report, participating in regional projects and planning efforts, increase the Commission’s capacity to deliver relevant services to our local governments, and will be a responsible and knowledgeable representative of the Commission to the public and our stakeholders.

Director of RIDE Solutions–Full Job Description

To apply:  Interested professionals should email a resume, cover letter, and three professional references to sdean@rvarc.org by Friday, July 9th.  The position is open until filled, with the first round of review beginning Monday, July 12th.  Please note that only electronic submittals will be accepted.

 

Faster, Dangerous Traffic: What is Roanoke doing about it?

This article appeared in the Roanoke Times on June 28, 2021

Pedestrian crashes in the Roanoke Valley from 2015 to 2020

The pandemic brought less driving – but more, and worse, crashes

During 2020, the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, driving dropped and traffic fatalities climbed – particularly pedestrian traffic fatalities. In Virginia, driving decreased 16.6% yet traffic fatalities increased 2.4% to 847 people killed in traffic, similar to national trends.

This is unexpected. In the past, the crash-rate rises when people drive more. When driving plummeted in the 2008 recession, traffic fatalities dropped too. As the economy rebounded, Americans drove more  and traffic fatalities climbed. In 2017, traffic fatalities in the U.S. hit a high at 37,473 and pedestrian fatalities reached 5,977. In the ten years before the pandemic, Virginia’s roadway deaths have grown from less than 700 in some years to over 850 in others.

The difference this year is that driving decreased but traffic fatalities didn’t. They increased.

Pedestrians are disproportionately represented in traffic fatalities and injuries

Traffic safety professionals say that pedestrians are “overrepresented” in traffic fatalities and injuries. meaning people walking are far more likely to get hurt or killed in a crash than we would expect, considering how many trips are made by walking. Two percent of travelers in Roanoke are pedestrians, but almost half of the people killed (7 of 16) and one-quarter of the people injured (70 of 297) in 2020 were walking and the outlook for pedestrians has gotten worse in recent years.

In 2020, the number of pedestrian fatalities in Virginia were about the same (123) as in 2019 (126), but when you consider that less driving happened, the rate of pedestrian traffic deaths actually increased 17%. The pandemic year was deadly for pedestrians in the Roanoke Valley. More pedestrians were injured (70) and killed (7) in 2020 than in any year since 2013.

The burden is not shared equally. Black and brown pedestrians are at greater risk of being injured or killed in a traffic crash than other people. In Roanoke, most pedestrian crashes occur in neighborhoods where more than ten percent of the population are minority race or ethnicity.

What’s going on?

There are many contributing factors, but one key suspect stands out: an increase in speeding during the pandemic.

Speeding is deadly. In a collision with a car traveling 20 mph, 95% of pedestrians survive, but in a collision with a car traveling 40 mph, 85% of pedestrians do not survive. And although traffic congestion feels dangerous, congestion actually slows down traffic speeds. Even if there are more crashes overall because of traffic congestion, they are fender benders with no injuries. Last year, with fewer people driving, there was less traffic congestion and therefore, faster (and deadlier) traffic speeds.

The Roanoke Valley saw a 178% increase in speeding-related fatalities. The City of Roanoke and Roanoke County both had double or more the number of speeding related-fatalities in 2020 compared to 2019.

What are we doing about it?

The City of Roanoke launched a pedestrian safety campaign in 2020, “Every Corner is a Crosswalk”, and this year is focusing on traffic speed awareness with the “No Need to Speed” campaign. Brandon Avenue, which was due for repaving, is getting a safety make-over which involved trying out temporary lane closures and a survey with hundreds of responses before the final design. In 2020 alone, the City invested over 1 million dollar in pedestrian safety improvements focused on intersection upgrades such as pedestrian push buttons, audible signals and more street lighting in the City Downtown and other pedestrian corridors like Williamson Road and 9th Street SE.

The Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization developed a Pedestrian Vision Plan in 2015 with an interactive map. The Virginia Department of Transportation worked with the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission on the Roanoke Valley Regional Transportation Safety Study to understand regional issues.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has two initiatives that should make a difference. Its Strategic Highway Safety Plan, Arrive Alive, is similar to a Vision Zero goal of zero traffic fatalities as the guiding principle of its transportation planning. Its Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, created just a couple years ago and has already been updated, comes with funding to guide cities and counties to invest more in pedestrian safety. In the state legislature, a handsfree ban and removing a barrier for localities to lower speed limits may help.

Having local, regional, and state plans and initiatives in place is important to take advantage of federal funding that will have a strong impact in reversing the trend of rising traffic fatalities.

Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization Seeks Public Comment on an Amendment to the FY2021-2024 Transportation Improvement Program

The Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization (RVTPO) is accepting comments on an amendment to the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) to include a new project receiving Federal Transit Administration funds of $119,008 for Roanoke County to operate its CORTRAN service for seniors and people with disabilities next year. The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation has recommended this project for its FY2022-2027 Six-Year Improvement Program.

Comments will be accepted until June 23, 2021 and a hearing will be held at 1:00 pm on June 24, 2021 in an online meeting. Visit the website www.rvarc.org for information on how to participate. For more information on this amendment contact Bryan Hill at (540) 343-4417 or E-mail: bhill@rvarc.org.

Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission Names Jeremy Holmes as Next Executive Director

The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission announced today that Jeremy Holmes has been named the new Executive Director. Holmes follows Wayne Strickland, who retires June 30th after 42 years with the Regional Commission.

Holmes has served as director of the Commission’s RIDE Solutions Commuter Assistance Program for the past fifteen years and in January of 2020 became the Commission’s Associate Executive Director. In addition to his leadership of the RIDE Solutions program, Holmes has been involved in a number of regional community advocacy efforts, including the Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition, the Greater Roanoke Valley Asthma and Air Quality Coalition, Roanoke Valley Reads, and Healthy Roanoke Valley. Holmes holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Roanoke College and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Hollins University.

“I am thrilled and honored with the trust the Commission’s Board has placed in me,” Holmes said. “As the region emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, this period before us presents not just the promise of recovery from the worst of its impacts, but a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tap into resources for growth in areas like expanding broadband access, enhancing our regional transportation system, and promoting regional economic growth. I am excited at the chance to serve the region’s local governments in achieving these goals.”

Vinton Mayor Bradley Grose, Chairman of the Regional Commission and the Search Committee to hire a new Executive Director, said, “The committee members were impressed by Jeremy’s understanding of regional issues and priorities and his passion for the work.” The search committee conducted interviews after the announcement of Strickland’s retirement in March. The committee made their recommendation to the Executive Committee at their May 13thmeeting, who then made their recommendation to the full Board today. The Board voted unanimously to name Holmes to the position.

Holmes plans to focus his first several months on the job in assisting localities and other regional organizations to take advantage of the many funding opportunities being made as a result of the American Recovery Act and related COVID-recovery programs at the federal and state level.