Tag Archives: Running

Riverside Drive is a ‘Scenic Byway,’ not scenic highway

Riverside Drive from Huguenot Flatwater to the Robert E. Lee Bridge is designated as a 'scenic byway'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.

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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 http://bit.ly/RVA-Ped-Bike-Trail-Survey to express their opinions and http://bit.ly/MPOBikePlan for more information.

Bike Trail map, next 2-5 years

RIVER RANT: Sharing Riverside Drive with vehicles

Runners sharing the road with vehicles on Riverside DriveBeautiful Riverside Drive on the south side of the James River between the Powhite Parkway and the Robert E. Lee Bridge is a great place for road biking. There is plenty of shade, challenging hills to climb and plenty of curves to keep you busy. On the scenic two-mile stretch between Huguenot Flatwater and Pony Pasture, you’ll also find plenty of walkers and runners.

But too often there are people who drive those stretches of road that don’t obey the speed limits or share the road. Have you ever had a traffic problem on Riverside Drive? What would you do to improve the safety of the road?

New Huguenot Bridge construction could begin this year

Huguenot Bridge will be completely replaced by 2013Work could begin on the new Huguenot Bridge before the end of 2010. The Commonwealth Transportation Board awarded a $35 million contract today to replace the 61-year-old, two-lane span over the James River that connects River Road on the north side and Huguenot Road on the south side.

The new structure will have one 12 foot lane and one 10 foot shoulder in each direction, according to VDOT. The 10 foot shoulder will function as both an emergency lane and a lane to allow bicyclists to safely use the bridge. In addition, there will be a five foot wide sidewalk on each side for pedestrians. The existing bridge is one lane in each direction with a pedestrian sidewalk and no shoulders. Recent traffic counts indicate the bridge carries an average of 28,000 vehicles per day.

The new bridge will be built in two phases. The first phase will involve constructing the western half of the new bridge while traffic is maintained on the existing bridge. During phase two, traffic will be shifted onto the new section of the bridge that was built during phase one. At that time, the existing Huguenot Bridge will be torn down and the second half of the new bridge will be constructed. VDOT will maintain one lane of traffic in each direction during construction with occasional lane closures during off-peak hours.

Construction should be completed by June 2013. Skanska USA Civil Southeast Inc. was the low bidder for the job.

Sounds like the plans are more inclusive to bikers, runners and hikers than the plans for the Boulevard Bridge 10 years ago. What do you think?