Blue Skies in the Roanoke Times

Shenandoah National Park: Good air quality day vs. poor air quality day | Photo by the National Park Service

Mark McCaskill, a Senior Planner here at the Regional Commission, had an air quality op-ed published in The Roanoke Times this past Sunday:

The unusually early and hot summer has resulted in higher risks of the creation of ground-level ozone, or smog (the pollutant that causes the haze that obscures our gorgeous vistas). Besides restricting views, ground-level ozone can make it difficult to breathe – particularly for groups like the elderly, small children and those with respiratory diseases such as asthma – and in high enough concentrations can even affect very healthy people.

One of the reasons RIDE Solutions does what it does in the Roanoke region is to help mitigate air quality issues.  Check out Mark’s op-ed for more information on ozone pollution and what you can do to keep Roanoke’s sky’s blue.

Get your ride ready for Bike Month — Fix Fest is coming to Blacksburg!

Get geared up for Bike Month! Come out to the

Second Annual Fix Fest

When: Saturday, April 30, 9 am – noon

Where: 110 Draper Road adjacent to the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market

Dust off your bike, pump up the tires, and lube the chain.  Spring is here!  Has your bike been sitting in the garage over the winter – or even for the last few years!  If so, it’s time to get your bike ready to ride!  Everyone can bring their bikes downtown for a *free* safety check and basic tune up.  Our local bike shops – Bike Barn, East Coasters, and Hokie Spokes, will be on hand with mechanics offering basic services.  (Participants that require part replacement or more involved repairs will be referred to the bike shops.)

Download this poster to help spread the word. If you have questions about the event, email cstraight@nrvpdc.org

This event is made possible with our sponsors’ help: Town of Blacksburg, NRV Bicycling Association, RIDE Solutions, Hokie Spokes, Bike Barn, East Coasters, Sustainable Blacksburg.

Once you’ve got your bike in working order, join other commuters on Clean Commute Fridays.

Clean Commute participants pledge to use a cleaner commute mode – biking, walking, riding the bus, carpooling – on one or more Fridays in May. Pick one Friday to try a clean commute mode, or challenge yourself to carpool, bike, bus, walk, or telecommute every Friday.

Each day pledged is an entry for the prize drawing which will include a variety of prizes. There is also a Cleanest Team competition open to any group (workplace, clubs, informal groups). For more information go to http://www.ridesolutions.org/cleancommute/index.shtml

We’ll be celebrating Clean Commute on Friday morning, May 20,
at the Blacksburg Farmers’ Market. Be sure to stop for coffee and pastry!

Call to Action: Proposed John Richardson Road Bridge Closing

My friend Dave Harrison, a cyclist and current chair of the City of Roanoke’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, sent me this message this morning:

VDOT is considering demolishing the John Richardson Road (Rt. 743) bridge in north Roanoke County and building a del-de-sac on the western end of Rt. 743.  The bridge was made impassible for any traffic by first dumping a gravel pile on it and then also by fencing it off.  Before being closed the bridge was frequently used by bicyclists.  The bridge is unsound for motor vehicle traffic but is suitable for bicycle and pedestrian use.  It seems no one has considered the possibility that the neighborhood can have a cul-de-sac AND that the bridge can be saved for bicycle and pedestrian use.  Please either write or e-mail Mr. Richard L. Caywood, P.E., Salem District Administrator, requesting that the bridge remain open for bicycle and pedestrian use only.  You may write to him at PO Box 3071, Salem, VA 24153 or e-mail to saleminfo@vodt.virginia.gov.  Please use the subject reference: “John Richardson Road Bridge Comment.”  All comments must be RECEIVED by Sunday, November 7.  Please write today.

This sounds like a good opportunity to save some existing infrastructure and add bicycle/pedestrian accommodations to Roanoke County, which is sorely lacking in them.  Consider following Dave’s advice and getting in touch with VDOT.

UPDATE: If you zoom in on this Google maps link, you should be able to see the bridge in question.

John Richardson Bridge, North Roanoke County