The goal of the Active Southern West Virginia Pedestrian, Bike, Trail Coordinator; Andrew Davis, is to engage in the development of a connected network of pedestrian infrastructure in Mount Hope, WV whereby both a the town’s population and tourists may exercise, walk, run, hike, and bike in a safe environment. Davis’s efforts will leverage the town’s historical past to attract visitors interested in adventure and cultural tourism. This will serve as an adaptable model for all communities throughout southern West Virginia to improve the economy and quality of life.
Southern West Virginia is lucky to have Andrew Davis committed to a second year with Active SWV.
Andrew Davis serves as an AmeriCorps VISTA for Active SWV in partnership with the National Coal Heritage Area. This three year position is made possible through grant funding, office space provided by the City of Mount Hope, and partnership with the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority.
The Active SWV Pedestrian, Bike and Trail Coordinator in the first year assessed Mount Hope’s current infrastructure and began to create a system of connected walking, biking, and hiking trails to improve opportunities for attracting visitors and allow its citizens to sustain a more healthy and active lifestyle. “Mount Hope – A Walkable Community” is the title of a map which serves as a reference for Mount Hope’s sidewalks, neighborhood streets, existing trails, and access to historical sites.
The VISTA accomplished these steps towards assigned objectives in 2016:
- Assessed current pedestrian infrastructure. Inventoried Mount Hope sidewalks, neighborhood streets, existing trails and access to historical sites.
- Identified connections to established adjacent trail systems; New River Gorge National Park, Boy Scouts Summit, and Piney Creek Watershed Trail System.
- Built capacity between regional and local public and private stakeholders
- Built partnerships with local public and private sector organizations and businesses to advocate for and fund the development of a Mount Hope safe street and trail system.
- Engaged local residents in supporting the benefits of multi-modal transportation and its positive effect on active lifestyles.
- Developed a plan for a system of connected safe streets and trails.
- Coordinated with Mount Hope Mayor’s office and Public Works to expand sidewalk development and designation and construction of a one mile fitness trail with fitness equipment.
- Worked with the CSX Company to assess building a rail-trail on their existing abandoned track.
- Worked with the Coal Heritage Museum, which will be the terminus of the Mount Hope Trail System.
- Identified and wrote grants to secure funding to build-out trail system.
- Worked with the Department of Highways to install “Share the Road” signage when entering Mount Hope.
- Installed a bicycle repair station and three bike racks.
For photos on these projects, please view the Bike Walk SWV Facebook page here.
2017 Goals and Objectives
The assessment of infrastructure, collection of stakeholders, and achievements towards a Bicycle Friendly City designation from the League of American Bicyclist propels this project towards these goals in 2017.
- Connect the communities within the four counties that encompass the New River Gorge Region with safe routes to a connected network of safe streets and trails. Davis will work closely with the New River Gorge Trail Alliance to incorporate the Mount Hope Trail System into its current trail connectivity plans.
- Local resources such as the Fayette County Health Department and New River Health will be incorporated to help implement a data collection program to track health statistics in Mount Hope, e.g. obesity, diabetes, and addiction, as well as access to safe venues for individual and group exercise, with particular focus on improved access to safe streets and trails
- A “How-to Manual” for bicycle and pedestrian accessibility improvements that can be used as a guide by communities of southern West Virginia and begin working with the city of Beckley, WV on implementing these improvements.
- Work with the regional Convention and Visitor’s Bureaus to promote the Mount Hope Trail System to tourist operators, media, and business organizations.
2017 will also see more opportunities for bicycle education with a February project planned with Mount Hope Elementary to incorporate a bicycle safety rodeo into gym class. There has also been a Complete Streets Policy passed by the Mount Hope City Council to prioritize pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure in future development. An Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) is currently being formed and seeking members.
Andrew Davis always has an open door and willingness to present about his work. Please do not hesitate to contact our office for ways to learn more, get involved, improve communities and economies.