Riverside Drive from Huguenot Flatwater to the Robert E. Lee Bridge is designated as a ‘scenic byway’ and the speed limit is designated to be 25 mph. It is one of the most popular place to walk, run or bike in Richmond, yet the roadway is narrow and has little to no shoulder space and there are no sidewalks for refuge.
The subject of sharing Riverside Drive has been brought up before and brought several good comments, but as we prepare for spring and an increase in traffic to the area, it has come up again.
At one point there were signs posted along the most popular 2-mile stretch between Huguenot Flatwater and Pony Pasture suggesting the limit was 15 mph. Those signs were taken down and were not replaced with any other signs, which has left the roadway subject to the potential for speeding due to ignorance of the limit.
Betsy Slade, who has lived in the neighborhood near Pony Pasture for decades, said that the problem with the section between Huguenot and Pony Pasture is that so many drivers treat it like a commuter road — a cut-through, albeit a scenic one.
During a Friends of the James River Park meeting in October 2010, park manager Ralph White discussed people’s concerns about the roadway and suggested that the citizens needed “to request that the rights of pedestrians and bikers should equal to those of the automobiles.”
White mentioned that the section of Riverside Drive between 42nd Street and the Lee Bridge was certainly a commuter route and likely should not be designated a scenic byway, but that from 42nd Street east to Huguenot could be true to that designation.
Slade suggested that Riverside Drive should be closed to automobile traffic between Pony Pasture and Rockfalls Drive during peak visiting hours, like weekends in the summer. If not closed to automobiles, at least designated as a one-way street.
Are more signs the answer? It was suggested at several FOJRP meetings that the signs were likely removed by the City of Richmond with the intent to make the roadway more scenic and less cluttered by urban interference. More signs might encourage safe speeds, but would it be better to install speed bumps or other traffic calming measures?