Good Night 2020
As we wrap up 2020, we are asking for your support to help us Spread Pixie Dust in the Valley. Can you help us reach our 2020 Pixie Dust goals before January 1? We are asking our members and our broader network to support our community-centric fundraising campaign and please consider a donation to help us continue Building Better Communities in the Valley.
Scottie Pendleton serves as the Chair for the Coalition’s Board of Directors and helps us close out each year by looking back on where we’ve been and where we are headed.
Greeting, friends of the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition.
What a year 2020 has been. As I attempt to recap our year at the Coalition I struggle with where to even begin. Like all nonprofits, we have been affected by the COVID pandemic. We’ve had to cancel events, we’ve been without our monthly Socials, and we’re doing a lot of meetings over Zoom. At the same time, we’ve pushed on ahead with trail development and advocacy and focused our vision of what the Coalition can and should be. Considering the challenges and restrictions, I like to think we made the best of a difficult situation and did well focusing our resources on what we could do.
Let’s start with what we did this year to Engage. Both the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Bike-Walk Summit and the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro (SAW) Walk-Bike Summit had to take a pause, but will hopefully both be back next year. We were once again, however, able to join with Harrisonburg United Way and Harrisonburg-Rockingham Association of Realtors to host the Harrisonburg City Council Forum in a virtual format. There has been an increase in biking and walking during the pandemic. As one candidate put it, “Who could say anything bad about biking?” – we love to hear that kind of support for bikes! We’ll continue to push decision-makers to improve walking and biking.
Case in point, Harrisonburg put in a trial shared use path on Federal St. through downtown with several different concepts for non-car traffic on display. The project was a success and the city will be permanently installing a shared-use path allowing for safer walking and biking through downtown. In the surrounding area, the Shenandoah Valley Rail Trail Exploratory Partnership convinced the state government to take a look at the idea of a 43-mile rail-trail between Strasburg and Broadway. Combined with the recent opening of the Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel this is an exciting prospect to expand the opportunities for biking and walking in the region.
To help us better coordinate support at the state level, we became a partner in the Virginia Conservation Network. In a different vein, we supported the Trans VA Bike Route to create an accessible bike packing route through the commonwealth while highlighting the great communities and riding here in the Shenandoah Valley. With multiple grand departs this year it garnered plenty of positive attention for the area. We can accomplish so much when we partner with our communities and our governments to expand the opportunities for biking and walking in the region and we will continue this work!
Have an idea who we should partner with? Please let us know
As we’ve worked to engage we’ve thought long and hard this year about how we Empower our communities, and what that means. We have long held that we want to empower everyone to choose whether, where, and how to ride and to elevate the voices of local residents and traditionally under-represented groups. This year we committed to that goal and drafted an action plan to specifically address racial injustice in our community, and ensure the Coalition is a welcoming and safe place for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
As part of this work, we engaged Nicole Litwiller to re-work our successful Bikes for Refugees program into the more inclusive and expansive Bikes for Neighbors. Stay tuned in the coming year to see how the program will better serve our community. We will also continue implementing the rest of our commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in order to help the Coalition build the best communities we can.
While we’ve had to adjust many of our activities due to the pandemic, it has been a banner year to Build. At Massanutten Western Slope alone, this year has seen the completion of three new trails as well as the construction and opening of the Massanutten Skills Kitchen. We have a great group of volunteers coordinating trail building efforts at Massanutten and they’ve been able to get so much done this year – get out there and check out all the new stuff!
In addition to all of the great work at Massanutten, this year has seen progress with trails on public lands. Especially with the continuing work on the re-routing of Narrowback West which is scheduled to break ground early next year. In addition, a final winter trail work push in the Forest cleaned up the drainage on Wolf Ridge Trail. This volunteer work brought the trail back to pristine condition and ensured it will ride great for many more years.
Despite everything, this was still a great year to Ride. The pandemic saw a boom in walking and biking as we recognized outside as a safe place to be. Ridership grew at Massanutten and in the National Forest, where more people are enjoying our communities on foot or bike. We were able to continue getting kids on trails with the ShenRock MTB Team, despite the changes to the schedule.
The temporary closure of the Harrisonburg golf course gave us an idea of what could be if we committed to more bikable and walkable spaces – the Garbers Church Shared Use Path (a product of the Coalitions Connect Our Schools Campaign) will give us more of that. Absent the regular Century, our volunteers coordinated a virtual event for people to enjoy the wonderful roads of the Valley. It was a difficult decision to cancel the Festival as well, but we will hopefully be able to hold it again next year.
In the meantime, we’ve put that energy towards trail work to make sure that we can once again showcase our incredible trails. More people than ever are enjoying their communities by walking and biking and we will carry that momentum forward in 2021.
I want to thank all of our volunteers, our ride leaders, our committee members, our event planners, our membership, our donors, board, our ED, our sponsors, and everyone who has been involved with or contributed to the Coalition in any way. We’ve got something special here, a kind of pixie dust that brings us all together to make the Coalition one of a kind. We’re working to build better communities in the Shenandoah Valley, making it a connected place where biking and walking aren’t just safe but are comfortable and regular things to do every day.
Thank you for sharing in our vision.