Photo Credit: Chris O’Brien
Thanks to Richmond hosting the UCI Road World Championships last year, the city has been swept up in quite the whirlwind in terms of considering itself an increasingly bike-friendly city. But now that the city is 9 months out from the race, if you really take a hard look at Richmond and the strides it has taken to be more bike friendly, just how far has the city come? As a marketing intern at the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation I not only get to see the inner workings of what it takes to maintain the trail on a daily basis, but also have gotten a better understanding of how the trail may be impacting Richmond’s evolution into a bike friendly city.
Completion of the Virginia Capital Trail – Officially opened just one month after the UCI Championships, the trail was a relief for many central Virginians (cyclists and runners alike) as up until that point the closest major trails were the James River Park trails and the Pocahontas State Park trail, all of which are unpaved. Spanning from Richmond all the way to Williamsburg (51.7 miles!), the trail’s reception has been fantastic, with well over 2,000 hits a day on the trail counters. City officials have also taken an active role in partnering with the VCTF to keep it well maintained. We see this as an active step forward in welcoming cycling enthusiasts and keeping them safe. With the installation of fix-it stations, the rise in trail-based businesses and rest stops, (including someone’s plans to begin a bike shuttle), as well as the success of the Foundation’s Cap2Cap Bike event, I see on a daily basis just how much the opening of the VCT has impacted the biking community and put Richmond on the radar as a city with the potential to be a great bike-friendly city.
The Bike City Master Plan – What separates Richmond from other popular bike friendly cities in the U.S. such as Boulder, Boston, and Portland? A very car centric ethos. Here at the Foundation we’ve gotten a number of complaints about cars riding on the trail and from the picture taken by RVA Coffee Stain located below there seems to be a lack of respect and/or knowledge on the part of motorist towards bikers. Though a big part of Richmond Bike City Master Plan is to construct a number of buffered bike lanes to make the city more bike-friendly, such infrastructure changes will only prove effective if motorist are willing to share the road. It is these types of attitudes that negatively impact the growth Richmond is trying to undergo, and much of which I have gotten a firsthand look at as I manage the trail’s Facebook page and maintain ace/complaint log. Because of my new perspective I sincerely believe that in order for the Richmond master plan to be successful we must not only focus on infrastructure changes, but bike culture in the city overall and how it is received.
Posted by: Keshara Moore, VCTF Intern