Rethink our streets: Bike, pedestrian & trails commission

Bike, pedestrian and trails meeting at The Carillon

It is good to see the city recognising the equity in planning for pedestrians and cyclists and not just for vehicles and public transit.

What I observed Monday night at The Carillon in Byrd Park was a room of nearly 200 people — fit, energetic, enthusiastic people who didn’t want to sit around and talk, they wanted to get work started and get things done.

“Rethink our streets” was a focus — planning our streetscapes so that everyone can use the roadways. The Bike, Pedestrian and Trails workgroup was tasked with creating a policy framework conducive to making Richmond a walkable, bikeable, trail-friendly city through networks of greenways that would safely connect neighborhoods, shopping districts, colleges, the James River, etc. Reworking traffic patterns on key neighborhood connectors like the Martin Luther King, Mayo, Manchester and Robert E. Lee bridges downtown.

City of Richmond trails manager Nathan BurrellCity of Richmond trails manager, Nathan Burrell,  said that many people may not have the ability or means to commute by vehicle. Developing greenways, “this is empowerment. A city that you would want to live in.” Allowing people to get off the couches and outside and connecting with each other.

Burrell declared that “we are a trail and cycling friendly town” and that Mayor Dwight Jones “moved fairly aggressively with the timeline for trail building and greenways plans.”

Thanks to trail-building groups like Richmond-MORE, many mountain bike trails are in place and have come almost entirely free to the city. The goal is allow that work to continue and to help establish bike-only roadway connections between the parks. There are short-term and long-term plans (see map at end of article):

Existing trails: James River Park System trails at Pony Pasture, Buttermilk, North Bank and Belle Isle; Powhite Park; Forest Hill Park; Lombardy Street; Ironbridge Road; and Capital Trail along Dock Street.

Planned for next 1-2 years: Establish East/West major route (following Main and Leigh streets); North/South major route (following Hermitage, Boulevard, Belt and Iron Bridge roads); Major Bike Route Connecting Loop. Build trails at Dogwood Dell, Chapel Island and Bandy Field and a Buttermilk West expansion toward the Powhite Parkway Bridge. Establish greenways from Reedy Creek, Cannon Creek, Gillies Creek. Would also post signage along existing bike paths along Brookland Parkway and Semmes Avenue.

Planned for next 2-5 years: Establishing greenways from Pumphouse, Powhite Creek, James River Branch, Pocosham Creek, Manchester Wall to 22nd Street Tower (Missing Link trail) and creating Crooked Branch Park trails. Virginia Capital Trail is scheduled to be finished. Plans include water taxi in Kanawha Canal from Tredegar to Pumphouse Park.

Bike, pedestrian and walking trail commissionRecommend policies to promote alternative transportation modes for commuters:

  • Incent employees to use alternate transportation
  • Promote bike racks at offices & public buildings
  • Offer incentives for workplace showers and lockers
  • Incentives for using mass transit
  • Educate employers and citizens on existing tax credits
  • Investigate feasibility of Zip cars and bike share programs

Jennifer Wampler of the Department of Conservation and Recreation said “Richmond is a trail town” and suggested that the money spent on developing plans around physical activity is found to have a better return on investment. Bike and pedestrian trails could have a huge positive impact on tourism, with healthy economic benefits and help change our culture.

There was a proposal to create a full-time bike, pedestrian and trail coordinator position for the City of Richmond who would be responsible for implementing recommendations & coordinating departments. That position would be key as Richmond also plans to connect with the East Coast Greenway, which runs through from Maine to Key West, Fla., and draws people from around the world.

Champe Burnley, president Virginia Bicycling FederationChampe Burnley, president of the Virginia Bicycling Federation, pointed out that “there are so many great parks in the Richmond area.” The two major bike routes (Route 1 and Route 76), that opens up “an incredible opportunity that would run through Richmond.”

While he was speaking, Burnley said that he “hoped that city council would get behind us” in the direction of city councilman Doug Conner of the South Central 9th District, who replied aloud “we’re going to do that.” Conner has already been involved with greenways, helping a rails-to-trails project effort to convert a former CSX railroad bed that runs 2.5 miles between Belt Boulevard and Hopkins Road.

Burnley encouraged the crowd to go to to express their opinions and for more information.

Bike Trail map, next 2-5 years


17 responses to “Rethink our streets: Bike, pedestrian & trails commission

  1. Pingback: River District News » Rethinking the streets of Richmond

  2. Pingback: Hills and Heights » Report From the Bike and Pedestrian Meeting - Richmond, Virginia

  3. Is is it my computer problem or a problem with this site? The text of the left sidebar lies over the main article making it pretty hard to read.

    I was there last night, too. Great meeting–

  4. The turnout and energy at the meeting was impressive. Let’s hope the commission and the Richmonders at the meeting hold Mayor Jones to his word in making these things happen — and make sure that the actual design of the bike lanes etc. is well thought-out, unlike some of the ones we have now (Hermitage Rd. between Broad and Brookland Park Blvd, for example).

  5. modernatelierperfumes

    Jake – Hermitage Road isn’t actually a bike lane because I complained that it was not up to standards. It *was* going to be signed! Can you believe it?!

  6. modernatelierperfumes

    I believe Hermitage is on the purple route in the map above. It is *not* currently in the system as a bike lane (only Lombardy and Iron Bridge Road are currently signed as bike lanes). The key is to make sure some kind of standards are set re: width and etc. I believe Travis Bridewell @DPW is the one who may be able to tell you what the city’s standards are and how they plan to do it. The Hermitage lanes were planned and striped under previous administration and previous DPW engineers.
    I am going to keep on top of them and make sure we do this right. It’s also a good time to contact your council person and let them know you support the recommendations of the commission and want proper standards.

    • Definitely! Let’s all keep on top of them. I don’t get the impression that the designs will be subject to review by the commission, so everybody needs to stay on them to be sure the designs are appropriate for the context and up to standards.

  7. Pingback: Great Turnout for Richmond Mayor’s Bike, Pedestrian, & Trails Commission | Virginia Bicycling Federation


    Of course, Marty Jewell was picked up last year for a DUI. I don’t know how friendly he is to sharing the streets.

  9. Pingback: Greenway developments connecting Richmond bike trails | James River News Hub

  10. Pingback: Bikers not happy with Huguenot Bridge replacement plan | James River News Hub

  11. Pingback: Byrd Park’s Go Ape! fallout halts Dogwood Dell bike trail project | James River News Hub

  12. Pingback: Greenways depending on rails-to-trails & Crooked connections | James River News Hub

  13. Pingback: Hills and Heights » Beating the Drum for Connecting Our Trails - Richmond, Virginia

  14. Pingback: Cannon Creek Greenway cleanup on Saturday | James River News Hub

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