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Thursday, May 23, 2024

4 months after the death of a cyclist in York County, a meeting on Wednesday will address infrastructure improvements

A map of regional bikeways was presented with information on the meeting. (WYDaily/Courtesy York County)
A map of regional bikeways was presented with information on the meeting. (WYDaily/Courtesy York County)

The York 2040 Committee meeting on Wednesday will address the overall comprehensive plan for the county, but it will also look at a topic that has weighed heavily on the minds of cyclists in the county following the death of Brian Utne.

In October 2018, Utne was biking along Lakeside Drive at Yorkville Road when he was struck by a car and then left to die, authorities said.

The alleged driver of the vehicle, Alexander Michael Crosby, 25, has since been arrested along with Robert Lee Strickland, Jr., 61, who owned the vehicle and allegedly helped Crosby hide evidence of the crash.

Crosby faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident, according to court papers.

Strickland was charged with misdemeanor accessory after the fact, misdemeanor obstruction of justice and felony concealing or compounding evidence.

Strickland was released on Nov. 19 under a $10,000 secured bond while Crosby remains in custody, according to the York General District Courthouse clerk’s office.

On April 22 at 1:30 p.m., both men will face a trial on their charges, according to the clerk’s office.

But even with the arrests, the concerns for cyclist safety are still being raised by those of York’s cycling communities.

Patrick Johnston, vice chairman of the Historic Triangle Bicycle Advisory Committee, has spoken about the safety concerns for cyclists in York County, especially after the death of Utne.

The meeting on Wednesday, he said, will have a different tone to the matter now that the situation has been more humanized.

“It seems to me that it has garnered a little more government focus as to try to prevent this,” he said. “Hopefully we won’t go through the tragedy we did last October now that there is more awareness and more to be done.”

Elements of an economic study will also be presented at the meeting, Johnston said, to show that while the projects would have an up-front cost, they would bring in more commerce to the area.

Johnston said he believes the meeting might have come as a result of the Utne’s death.

But Amy Parker, senior planner for York County, said cycling routes and sidewalk availability are regularly discussed during comprehensive plan updates.

“Bicycle safety will not be the focus of the (Comprehensive) Plan Steering Committee meeting, although it may be discussed in the context of long term plans for new/upgraded bicycle facilities in the county,” she wrote in an email.

But Parker said there haven’t been any significant updates to sidewalk projects in years.

First proposed in 1991 during the comprehensive plan, “Charting the Course to 2010,” laid out a series of improvements to create greater “walkability” in tourist-oriented and residential areas, according to the agenda packet for the meeting.

The plan explained that over the course of 20 years, when funding is available, there would be improvements made to create a greater network of connectivity between sidewalks, which would also include greater safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

But in 2010, documents from the county describe the economic recession of the time as the reason for dramatically scaling back funding for those projects.

But after a “ten-year hiatus,” according to the agenda packet for the meeting, sidewalks and bikeways in York County are having attention refocused.

After a recommendation from the county administrator, approximately $753,000 will be focused on projects that “not only restore but…greatly enhance that financial commitment to construction of sidewalks and bikeways,” according to the meeting agenda.

The meeting on Wednesday will give the Steering Committee, the Planning Commission, the Board of Supervisors and residents of the area the chance to speak about what they feel are areas that need to be addressed and to “envision the kind of walkway network that will be needed over the next 20 years.”

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the Tabb Library Meeting Room.

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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