news olympic cyclists visit virginia tech transportation institute to discuss bicycle safety

Olympic cyclists visit Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to discuss bicycle safety

(From left) Sofia Arreola Navarro, Emily Ehrlich, Melisa Rollins, Jennifer Valente, Marlies Mejias Garcia, and Dani Morshead in front of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Virginia Smart Roads Bridge. Photo: Virginia Tech

Cyclists from the world-class Twenty24 cycling team recently visited the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to discuss bicycle safety and future collaborations.

While visiting the institute, the cyclists went for a bike ride around the Virginia Smart Roads, a state-of-the-art, closed test-bed, research facility managed by VTTI, experiencing firsthand the capabilities available to researchers increasing cyclist safety.

Their 3.4-mile route took them through Surface Street, onto the highway, and around the Rural Roadway with nearly 600 feet in elevation change.

VTTI, in partnership with VDOT, opened the original the highway section of the Virginia Smart Road in 2000. The Smart Road encompasses more than 30,000 hours and over 3 1/2 years of research since its opening.

In 2017, VTTI launched the suite of test tracks that enable advanced vehicle testing in an interconnected and comprehensive cross section of roadways, including highway, surface, rural, and the live roadway connector.

“Cyclist fatalities have been on the rise for the past decade,” said Zac Doerzaph, executive director of Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. “Considering that cycling is one of the ways that we can improve sustainability and protect the environment, researching cyclists and cyclist safety is something that is of real interest to us.”

The Twenty24 cycling team, which is based in Roanoke and sponsored by Virginia’s Blue Ridge, connected to the university through the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center, which works to build connections and collaborations between the Roanoke community and the university.

According to its website, the team features 14 Olympic/Paralympic medalists, 17 world champions, and numerous national champions hailing from the United States, Canada, Cuba, and Mexico.

Safety tips for cyclists and drivers from VTTI researchers:

  • Avoid riding at night when possible.
  • Use bike lanes when possible.
  • If sharing the road with traffic, be as visible as possible – use lights and reflective gear, especially reflectors that show motion such as pedals or leg bands.
  • Maintain situation awareness and be cautious when around cars. They weigh a lot more and go a lot faster.
  • As drivers, give bicyclists space and share the road.

Chris Graham

I write books, two on UVA basketball, one on pro wrestling, one on politics, which is getting to be like pro wrestling more and more each day. I've finished three marathons, but my maranthoning days are over. I'm also a progressive who voted for Biden, but we need another Democrat in 2024. (Sorry, Joe, and thanks.) Want to reach me? Try [email protected]