Richmond couple calls for change after son biking to school gets hit by car

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Meghan Noggle used to joke with her son to remind him to be cautious on his bike ride to school.

“He walks out the door and I tell him, ‘Drew, be careful. All the cars are trying to run you over,’” she said.

It was a somewhat lighthearted reminder of the dangers that await bicyclists and pedestrians on the roadways, until it wasn’t.

“It used to be funny,” Meghan Noggle said. “It doesn’t feel funny anymore.”

Meghan and Brendan Noggle’s children ride their bikes or walk to school just about every day. Their 11-year-old son, Drew, has been doing that for several years, and they’ve taught him to stick to the sidewalks, wear a helmet and obey traffic signals.

“We have crosswalks at the school. We have crossing guards to help,” Brendan Noggle said. “But even with the crossing guards, this situation happened where a car turned into my son. There was an accident.”

Brendan Noggle said that Drew was biking ahead, while he walked along their younger son, also on his way to school. He told 8News that the crossing guard outside Drew’s school was on the other side of the intersection at Westmoreland Street and Grove Avenue, but Drew had the crosswalk signal to go, and so he went. But while in the crosswalk, a car failed to yield, and hit Drew’s bike.

“As he was crossing, a car turned left into him, and struck his bicycle,” Brendan Noggle said. “Thankfully, he’s okay. His bike — bent up a little. He was able to walk away, luckily.”

Drew made it to school that day. His parents said he was shaken, but unhurt.

“It’s terrifying to think that a kid could not walk away,” Meghan Noggle said. “I can’t imagine if we got this close call as a warning and then nothing more was done and something really terrible happened.”

That’s why the Noggles are continuing to push for safety improvements in the area.

“The school has done a lot to improve child safety,” Brendan Noggle said. “If these accidents still happen with crossing guards, there must be some sort of changes we can make with infrastructure to protect child safety.”

Since the accident, the Noggles said that a radar has been added to help enforce the 30 mph speed limit. There is also a stoplight, cross walk, signage and crossing guards during school hours. Still, they feel that more could be done.

“We try our best, as parents, to make a safe environment for our children, and yet, still, sometimes, these happen,” Brendan Noggle said. “It’s just so scary. I feel like if there was a way to stop traffic as kids travel to school, it might make things easier.”

The Noggles said that one such option could be having all of the lights at Westmoreland St. and Grove Ave. turn red for a period of time to allow students to cross the street.

Richmond City Councilman Andreas Addison, 1st District Representative, told 8News that speeding, failure to yield and other unsafe driving behaviors are specific problems in at least 12 spots in his district. He didn’t say whether the intersection where Drew was hit is one of those locations. However, Addison said that he is in support of proposed radar speed enforcement cameras at intersections like it, which could be implemented in the next several months.

Other community members have reached out to 8News and said that they too have had close calls at intersections in the City of Richmond near where their children go to school.

“We’ve had a lot of support, and a lot of other families have told us that they’ve shared their stories and their close calls with the city and with council members,” Brendan Noggle said. “We’ve seen changes at other schools, which gives us hope that things can happen. We just like to see it happen sooner.”

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