Author Archives: Rachel Ruhlen

Tuesday Shuttle FAQ

The Tuesday Shuttle will collect data about transportation barriers for northern Botetourt residents. This data will be shared with Botetourt County. The Tuesday Shuttle will provide transportation for northern Botetourt residents on Tuesdays from November 16 through December 14, 2021. Residents can schedule a ride by calling 1-800-964-5707.

The Tuesday Shuttle is a partnership between the Eagle Rock Ruritans and the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission and is operated by RADAR. It is funded by the National Center for Mobility Management through the Community Mobility Design Challenge which supports communities in seeking innovative ways to address the personal well-being of community members that face transportation barriers to recreation and physical activities, healthy food, personal safety, economic opportunity, or community and peer support opportunities. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Tuesday Shuttle?
The Tuesday Shuttle will collect data about transportation barriers for northern Botetourt residents. This data will be shared with Botetourt County. The Tuesday Shuttle will provide transportation for northern Botetourt residents on Tuesdays from November 16 through December 14, 2021. Residents can schedule a ride by calling 1-800-964-5707.

Who is eligible to ride the Tuesday Shuttle?
To ride the Tuesday Shuttle, you must be a resident of Botetourt County AND live in one of these zip codes:
Eagle Rock: 24085
Buchanan: 24066
Clifton Forge: 24422 (Botetourt County residents only)
Natural Bridge: 24579 (Botetourt County residents only)

While the purpose of the Tuesday Shuttle is to collect data about transportation barriers for senior citizens and people with disabilities, you do not have to be a senior citizen or have a disability to use the Tuesday Shuttle.

How much does the Tuesday Shuttle cost?
The Tuesday Shuttle is free.

Where will the Tuesday Shuttle pick me up?
The Tuesday Shuttle can pick you up at your home in northern Botetourt. 

Where will the Tuesday Shuttle take me?
The Tuesday Shuttle can take you to destinations in Botetourt County, Alleghany County including Clifton Forge, Covington, Craig County, Roanoke County, the City of Roanoke, and Salem.

Is it a round trip or one-way?
Most rides will be round trip, but if you don’t need a ride home, tell the scheduler when you schedule your ride.

How do I schedule a ride?
Call 1-800-964-5707 between 6 am and 9 pm Monday through Saturday. This is the number for RADAR Transit which operates the Tuesday Shuttle.

How far in advance do I need to schedule my ride?
Please call at least the day before your ride. To ensure that you will have a ride, call earlier. 

What days and hours can I get a ride?
The only restriction is whether RADAR has drivers and vehicles available. Call 1-800-964-5707 to determine if your trip can be accommodated.

What about COVID? Is it safe to ride the Tuesday Shuttle?
RADAR drivers wear masks and passengers are required to wear masks.

How many people will be on the Tuesday Shuttle with me?
Because of scheduling logistics, you may be the only passenger on your trip. Maximum shuttle capacity is typically 4 passengers (including caretakers).

What dates will the Tuesday Shuttle run?
November 16, November 23, November 30, December 7, and December 14, 2021.

Will the Tuesday Shuttle continue after 2021?
No. It will run only November 16 through December 14, 2021.

What is the purpose of the Tuesday Shuttle?
The Tuesday Shuttle is a partnership between the Eagle Rock Ruritans and the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission and is operated by RADAR. It is funded by the National Center for Mobility Management through the Community Mobility Design Challenge which supports communities in seeking innovative ways to address the personal well-being of community members that face transportation barriers to recreation and physical activities, healthy food, personal safety, economic opportunity, or community and peer support opportunities. Data about transportation patterns and needs collected from the Tuesday Shuttle will be shared with Botetourt County.

Is this the same thing as the Botetourt Van Service?
No. The Botetourt Van Service is operated by Botetourt County. The Tuesday Shuttle is a temporary service developed by the Eagle Rock Ruritans and the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission and operated by RADAR that will gather information about transportation barriers for people in northern Botetourt.

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.

Community Mobility Design Challenge

In 2020, Botetourt County was selected as one of four communities by the National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM), for the Community Mobility Design Challenge to develop and test ways to address the particular mobility challenges experienced by low-income community members for whom a lack of transportation is an obstacle to the pursuit of economic, health, and social well-being. NCMM is a technical assistance center operated by the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) and funded through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

The Botetourt County team, led by the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, focused on transportation access to healthcare for elderly and/or disabled people in rural Botetourt County. Before applying for the grant, the team researched the extent of the identified transportation challenge through interviews and other types of primary and secondary research. NCMM staff led the team in developing insights from a “deep dive” into the specific transportation needs of rural Botetourt County seniors and people with disabilities. The team has developed four options and is testing key assumptions about these concepts with potential users and other stakeholders. The team will modify the solutions to ensure they closely respond to the identified challenge and plan how to operationalize the solution, paying close attention to the financial viability and sustainability of the solution.

The project has brought together partners from the Eagle Rock Ruritan Club, Botetourt County, the Botetourt Resource Center, transportation, and other community agencies. The team will also create performance measures to show the projected impact of the project, among other key indicators.

Through research, conversations with stakeholders, and workshops, the team generated four options. The team identified assumptions underlying the four options and is in the process of testing these assumptions. For example, a ride-match app assumes that Botetourt seniors who need rides have access to the internet and are able to use the technology. Since that is probably not true for many residents, the team must consider strategies to overcome these limitations.

Option #1: Weekly Transport – Eagle Rock to Roanoke
A weekly shuttle for rural seniors and people with disabilities will pick up riders from their home or a central pick-up point and transport them to their appointments in the Roanoke Valley.

Option #2: Replacing Trips with Tech
Replace van trips with prescription delivery by drone and telehealth hubs at
community centers.

Option #3: Creating Community Connections
A customer map will help us better understand the needs and current gaps in service. An inventory of providers in Botetourt, Alleghany, and Rock Bridge Counties will allow riders to be seen closer to home and reduce travel time. A new scheduling technology will allow for scheduling more than one rider at a time. A strategic marketing and rider-engagement plan will reach seniors through social media, phone, e-mail, and engage with riders continuously to create community and connection.

Option #4: Connect to Healthcare
A web-based volunteer driver management app will match riders with volunteer drivers. Community organizations will assist riders and drivers with using the app, providing internet access and technical assistance. Volunteer drivers will receive incentives or subsidies to offset their costs.
For more information, please contact Rachel Ruhlen at rruhlen@rvarc.org.

Traffic Congestion Management Process

The Roanoke Valley doesn’t have much severe traffic congestion – and we want to keep it that way! After the population of the urbanized region exceeded 200,000, the RVTPO adopted its first federally required congestion management process in 2014. The 2020 Traffic Congestion Management Process, approved on October 22, is the first update, incorporating changes in technology and regulations, data analyses, and stakeholder input.

The update identifies five priority corridors for congestion management identified through analysis of real-time data collected from GPS-equipped vehicles and mobile devices as well as corridors of concern identified through public input. View the interactive map of corridors for congestion management here.

Learn more about the update of the Traffic Congestion Management Process here.

Transportation Improvement Program

The survey is now closed.

The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is a four-year schedule of all federally-funded and regionally-significant transportation projects to be implemented in the RVTPO region. It functions like a budget and projects can only be funded if they are consistent with the goals of Vision 2040. RVTPO is updating the TIP and would like to know what you think of the proposed projects.

Review the complete TIP here: Transportation Improvement Program 2021-2024.

 

Traffic Congestion Management Process

The Roanoke Valley doesn’t have much severe traffic congestion – and we want to keep it that way! The RVTPO updated the Traffic Congestion Management Process in 2020.

Modern technology has revolutionized our ability to define and objectively measure traffic congestion. Using “big data” collected from GPS-equipped vehicles and smart phone apps, we can literally see where traffic congestion occurs, how long it lasts, and how often. The traffic congestion metric that the Roanoke Valley uses is Planning Time Index.


Click on the image to see how Planning Time Index changes throughout the day.

Analysis of this data shows that the Roanoke Valley traffic congestion is not widespread, does not last a long time, and does not occur very often. Four corridors may be at risk of performing poorly:

Another corridor that may be at risk is Gus Nicks Boulevard / Washington Avenue, but travel time data is not available.

View a map of Priority Corridors for congestion management and Other Corridors.

Outreach

Input from locality staff, freight logistics managers, and the public guided this update.

  • Locality staff attended a Congestion Workshop on November 6, 2019.
    • The Land Use focus group discussed how local government can guide or nudge land use through the permitting process to manage traffic congestion while promoting economic growth.
    • The Transportation Demand Management focus group discussed the efforts of RIDE Solutions, the local transportation demand management organization that promotes carpooling, transit, and bicycle and pedestrian travel.
    • The Performance Measures focus group discussed technical details about monitoring traffic congestion regionally and at specific locations.
  • Freight logistics managers provided input through individual interviews about how traffic congestion affects freight movement.
  • A survey collected input from 304 participants who provided 527 comments.

Guide to Getting Around Roanoke Valley

There are many ways to get around the Roanoke Valley without a car. This guide explores  independent transportation options including buses and trolleys, transportation for people with disabilities, taxis, rideshare (Uber & Lyft), bikeshare (Zagster), rental bikes, and rental cars. Intercity bus, passenger rail, and air passenger services provide longer distance options.

Download the Guide To Getting Around Roanoke or visit 313 Luck Ave SW and get your copy today!

Public Right-of-Way Accessibility

People with certificates

Left to right: Tiffany, Dr. Eck, Rachel, and Garrett

RVARC staff and volunteers learned about the Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG) during a workshop from the University of Virginia Transportation Technical Academy. PROWAG ensure that all people can navigate safely on foot in the public right-of-way.

Rachel Ruhlen felt the training would enhance the bike/walk/disability audits that the Regional Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee has been doing with locality staff. During these audits, locality staff are always impressed watching Garrett Brumfield, a committee member, or Tiffany Lee, a volunteer, navigate the sidewalk and streets in their wheelchairs, or blind volunteers find their way around using sound and touch. The audits often turn up simple repairs that can make a big difference to a person with vision or mobility impairment.

RVARC sent Rachel, Garrett, and Tiffany to the workshop to learn PROWAG, the best practices for accessibility, developed by the US Department of Justice Access Board.

RVTPO brings Title VI Training to Roanoke

Mohamed Dumbuya, Title VI Coordinator and Civil Rights Program Manager for the Virginia Division of the Federal Highway Administration, gave a Title VI training to 23 people representing 12 agencies on February 27, 2019. Metropolitan planning organizations like the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization (RVTPO) that receive federal transportation funds and must have a Title VI process to ensure compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its related authorities (executive orders, related legislation, court decisions, and other regulations).

Roanoke, like many cities, used urban renewal in an unfair and discriminatory manner, with consequences that are still felt today. These practices prompted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other legislation throughout the decades. Another change since the days of urban renewal is the creation of metropolitan planning organizations which coordinate transportation planning between localities throughout the region. Abiding by Title VI and its related authorities at all steps of transportation planning ensures that the benefits and burdens of transportation projects are shared equitably.

RVTPO worked with FHWA and VDOT to bring Mohamed Dumbuya to Roanoke. Staff from RVTPO, VDOT, localities, and other MPOs took advantage of the Title VI training opportunity.

Title VI and its related authorities prohibit discrimination, intentional or unintentional, on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, sex, and age. The related authorities protect minorities, people of low income, handicapped persons, and people with limited English proficiency and mandate fair and equitable treatment of persons displaced as a result of programs and projects receiving federal funds.

For the RVTPO, Title VI means:

  • Ensuring that all stakeholders have opportunity to comment on plans, programs, and projects,
  • Making sure that the benefits and burdens of plans, programs, and projects are shared equitably,
  • Documenting the methods of administration, and
  • Documenting Title VI data.

RVTPO will be updating its Title VI Implementation Process in the coming months.

Congestion Question

The last time you experienced traffic congestion, where were you trying to go? Tell us with our first ever crowdsourcing map app!

Report congestion here. Use the buttons in the upper left to get help, add a point or a line with a comment, or view the legend.

Having trouble getting started? Click the help button in the upper left corner of the map: 

Still not sure what to do? Use the mouse to pan and the mouse wheel or the “+” and “-” buttons  to zoom in until you see the place where you experience traffic congestion. Use the search box to quickly find an address or street.

Click the “Edit” button and select “New Feature” to add a point or a line. For example, you might add a point at an intersection or specific address. Or you might draw a line along a longer segment where you experience congestion.

If adding a line, double-click to the end the line.

After adding a point or line, you can enter a comment. Tell us where you were going when you experienced traffic congestion.

The comment will be saved when you click “Close”.