How many people regularly ignore this Richmond law?

There is a law against riding bike across the Boulevard BridgeRiding your bike over the Boulevard Bridge is illegal. There are signs on each end of the bridge that demand “Bicycle riding on bridge prohibited by law. Dismount and walk on sidewalk.” The 0.4 mile stretch between the signs is very tempting to ride and break the law.

So come on, admit it. Very few people obey this law.  The bridge, formerly known as the Nickel Bridge, was reopened in 1993 after an 18-month renovation. A lane for foot and bike traffic was added, but regrettably it isn’t wide enough for everybody to travel safely together.  Still, you will almost never see anyone walking their bike across the bridge.

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26 responses to “How many people regularly ignore this Richmond law?

  1. Nah, I ride across, but I do stop for others coming towards me as necessary…or I ride slowly as I approach a walker from behind until I get their attention and ask to pass.

  2. I ride my bike on that sidewalk across the bridge. It’s a lot easier to yield to pedestrians while riding than walking next to the bike.

  3. It’s a pretty ridiculous law, and I don’t know that it’s ever been enforced. I have never walked my bike across, but I do stop for oncoming pedestrians (well in advance of them, so they know my intentions), and I wait for pedestrians I am riding behind unless they see me and signal that I can pass them.

    If the law exists solely for the sake of prosecuting someone who hits a pedestrian, I understand the rationale. I’d laugh if any officer ever tried to ticket someone for riding on the sidewalk when there’s nobody else on it.

  4. I’ve made the mistake of taking the road portion across the river. Won’t do that again.

  5. Pingback: Hills and Heights » To Walk or Ride That is the Question - Richmond, Virginia

  6. Paul makes another good point- the bridge isn’t wide enough for cyclists to coexist with cars.

    In addition, on the road if you’re going South and climbing up the hill at 7 or 8mph and you’ve got 5 cars behind you who can’t see around the slight bend and over the hill to pass (and maybe they still try to!)… you’re not making new car-driving friends.

  7. Comments from the JRNH Facebook page:

    Robin Autry: Noticed sign on the bridge at 14th street but see people riding all the time.

    Karl Gordon: Yes I do, all the time. Some days I might cross the bridge three to four times on my mountain bike rides and walking it is not really a reasonable option. I do the reasonable thing, which is to stop and to be completely respectful when passing others.

    Alicia Anne: Guilty 😦 But really, why can you not ride your bike across, especially if you, and your fellow bikers, are the only ones on the bridge?

    Christopher Maxwell: would anyone miss the sign if some rainy day it “disappeared”?

  8. I would like to know more about the legal relationship between RMA and the city which allows city employees to enforce laws such as this on private property (RMA owns Nickel Bridge). Are the signs city sanctioned or are they more like parking lot stop signs?

    • Wow, that is a fantastic question. Thank you, and great analogy. I think that is worth a call to the RMA…I’m going to get on that. I also want to know what the penalty for riding on the bridge would be. $25 fine? Questionable law.

  9. I love to run across the bridge and the bikers I meet are always respectful. I usually pause and stand to the side and let them pass, it’s no big deal plus I enjoy the company and seeing their quick smiles and waves as they pass. We’re all in it together, enjoying the beautiful bridge and the opportunity to safely cross while getting exercise and fresh air. This bridge is a gem and one of my absolute favorite things about Richmond.

  10. If the law is that bikes should be walked, then they should be walked. I find it highly annoying that bikers tend to not be polite or considerate when they bike across the bridge. I am often expected to yield when the sidewalk is made for pedestrians and is the the bike driver who should yield. I usually have my dog with me and there really isn’t a lot of extra room for passing. A bike is a vehicle and should be driven in the street, again, according to Virginia state code (i.e., the law).

  11. Thumbs up to common sense and general neighborliness. The Nickel Bridge is not a perfect situation, but reasonable folks can share, can’t they?

    @Bike Nazi, I appreciate your POV, but must say that there are also laws regarding dogs that are not uniformly enforced. While I am sure you are law-abiding, there have been several occasions where I have been chased on my bike (not on the bridge) by an unleashed dog. Owners are also supposed to clean up after their animals while on walks, but we have collected many samples from our yard over the years where this hasn’t happened.

  12. Although I don’t ride that bridge often, I have never walked my bike across it. Couldn’t we have a sign “Cyclists yield to pedestrians” and leave it at that. To me the issue this highlights is that we need to think seriously about accommodating bikes in Richmond. There aren’t many good options for crossing the river on a bike besides the Nickel Bridge and the Lee Bridge (kind of).

  13. Please don’t ride your bike across the road portion of the bridge, that’s just beyond ludicrous

  14. I also am guilty of riding across the bridge but i am always considerate of anyone else on the bridge. To address bike nazi’s concern, I have never seen a biker not give a pedestrian the right of way on the nickel bridge. Most of us ride across the bridge because that is a long way to grind your cleats on concrete.

  15. In my experience on the Nickel Bridge has been consistently negative with regard to cyclists. I have been nearly run over several times by cyclists who have not yielded to me and my young son. In September my son was injured by a cyclist’s pedal as he passed (at high speed) while giving me the finger. He required several stitches as a result. In Summer of 2008 cyclists dressed in brightly colored lycra on a weekend group ride last summer cornered then shot my dog in my front yard. They rode off laughing, ringing their bells and high-fiving each other. Enough is enough.

    • “Summer of 2008 cyclists dressed in brightly colored lycra on a weekend group ride last summer cornered then shot my dog in my front yard. They rode off laughing, ringing their bells and high-fiving each other.”

      Sounds like you’ve got your stories mixed up. Somedbody may have shot your dog, but it wasn’t a group of lycra-clad (weapons-carrying! bell-ringing!) cyclists on a group ride. Maybe the group of neighborhood delinquents came by on the same day as a group of cyclists rode by and you are putting the two together. The cyclists weren’t laughing and high-fiving each other, they don’t have bells, and they don’t carry guns.

      I am sorry about your son, however. There are a few bad apples that ruin the image for most of the cyclists that use the Boulevard Bridge regularly, stopping for pedestrians (especially those with dogs or children.)

  16. I’ve checked the Code of Virginia and the City of Richmond. It is NOT illegal to ride a bike on the bridge. Whoever created that sign was a bit overzealous.

    • Ethan, I have contacted the RMA (who run the toll bridge), but haven’t gotten word on the legality or fines, etc. How where you able to confirm that it is not illegal? (nice work, thank you)

  17. According to VA Code all we have to do is yield and be polite, which it seems like most of us do.

    http://leg1.state.va.us/000/cod/46.2-904.HTM

  18. I don’t know Sean, this little section of that code might prohibit it…

    “No person shall ride a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, motorized skateboard or scooter, motor-driven cycle, or an electric power-assisted bicycle on a sidewalk, or across a roadway on a crosswalk, where such use of bicycles, electric personal assistive mobility devices, motorized skateboards or scooters, motor-driven cycles, or electric power-assisted bicycles is prohibited by official traffic control devices. ”

    A sign would qualify as a “traffic control device”.

    • Hmm… I didn’t register that for some reason. Signage is indeed a traffic control device. The question still remains how the RMA figures into the equation.

      • Late to the game, but Sean is right because the legislation requires a local sidewalk bicycling ordinance AND signs. Richmond has no local ordinance prohibiting sidewalk bicycling.

  19. Pingback: RMA responds to law against biking on the Boulevard Bridge | James River News Hub

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