The tragic reason this group biked for just 2 miles in Richmond this weekend

Del. Jones: 'The fact that a cyclist was killed last evening... it shows why it’s important and why it’s an issue.'
Bike Safety Ride Mike Jones
Posted at 10:00 PM, Jun 08, 2024

RICHMOND, Va. -- Around 20 cyclists showed up at Forest Hill Park near Richmond's Southside to help Del. Mike Jones address an important issue regarding the safety of pedestrians and cyclists traveling on busy city roads.

"I just firmly believe that everyone should be able to bike and walk their neighborhood," Jones said to the group of riders Saturday morning.

Bike Safety Ride Mike Jones
Del. Mike Jones

The event, called Wheels for Change Community Bike Ride, was held to advocate for improved road safety and pedestrian walkways across the state. Jones says safer roads is an issue he's been championing for several years since his time serving as the 9th District representative on Richmond City Council.

"Drivers have to be committed to seeing change in the area," said Jones. " Especially as we go this way further south it’s even more difficult to bike and walk.

Bike Safety Ride Mike Jones

Following the address, the 20 bikers began the two-mile trek towards Richmond's Southside riding down Forest Hill Avenue toward Jahnke Road. At the start of the roughly 15-minute journey, the group was able to stay together behind traffic, but once they approached Jahnke Road they had to bottleneck to just one line of riders despite the lack of quality infrastructure on the road.

The relatively short ride came to an end at the intersection of Jahnke and German School roads, a spot both marred by the death of Ajah Rosemond who was struck and killed.

"She was doing just one basic thing that she did every single day walking to and from home," said Jones. "We believe, I believe no one should lose their life anywhere in the commonwealth due to a vehicular accident."

Bike Safety Ride Mike Jones

The ride was also held to shine a light on the other pedestrian fatalities following the death Shawn Soares last year in May and Mahrokh Kahn at the beginning of 2023. Both VCU students were struck and killed while crossing the street.

Following Soares' death, VCU President Dr. Michael Rao had multiple speed ramps installed along portions of Main Street where both students were killed to limit speeding.

Bicyclist killed

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Though not in Richmond, a cyclist was also killed in Henrico at the intersection of Staples Mill Road and Waller Street late Friday less than 12 hours before Saturday’s event. Jones said the most recent death only highlights the need to have events like Wheels for Change.

"The fact that a cyclist was killed last evening right before our ride this morning, it shows why it’s important and why it’s an issue," Jones said.

Valerie Delboy
Valerie Delboy

Valerie Delboy, who has only been in Richmond for six months since moving from New York, decided to sign up to ride to help the cause and to experience the riskier roads in the city.

"I came from Long Island, New York, and it was not very bicycle-friendly where I lived, and it bothered me a lot," Delboy said. "I do think RVA is a more likable area than where I came from, but there are definitely areas that could use a lot of improvements."

During the last Generally Assembly session, Jones attempted to introduce HB-20 and HB-21, bills that he believed could deter roadside fatalities.

The legislation sought to allow localities to place speed cameras and speed monitoring devices throughout the commonwealth or their particular locality based on the high injury network.

Bike Safety Ride Mike Jones

Though the delegate says the legislation never made it out of subcommittee, he’s hoping Saturday’s showing will send a message to other state leaders to make changes to the Southside where possible.

"Everyone deserves to be safe as they bike and walk their neighborhoods," Jones said.

Jones hopes to reintroduce HB-20, which would allow localities to install speed cameras on their most dangerous roads, during the next GA session.

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