Archive | May, 2012

Capital Trail – Varina Section

31 May

Your input is requested next week at a public meeting next Wednesday, June 6 about plans for the Varina (Henrico) section of the Capital Trail.  Click here for VDOT’s page on the Varina section, where you can see a detailed map, get FAQs answered, etc.  Links for the VDOT Capital Trail page and the Capital Trail Foundation are here and here.

As I’ve mentioned in a couple of previous posts, Henrico County planners originally wanted to make this section of the trail a widened shoulder on Route 5 instead of a separated path (which it is or will be in every other section).  My understanding is that VDOT fortunately went ahead and designed a separated path; the kind of people who use this kind of path would probably not find a widened shoulder very appealing.  My guess is that Henrico is still balking and probably not helping things along much, so it’s important for us to express support for the VDOT design.  According to VDOT, construction will begin summer 2013 and end by the following summer.

The goal is to have the entire trail finished by 2014, just in time for the thousands of bike-crazy visitors we’ll have for the 2015 World Cycling Championships in Richmond.  I know a lot of people, including myself, who are really looking forward to the trail’s completion and see it as a very positive addition to the cycling infrastructure in the area.

The public meeting on the Varina phase is Wednesday, June 6, 2012 from 5-7 p.m. at John Rolfe Middle School (6901 Messer Road, Henrico, VA 23231).

If you can’t make the meeting, consider going to the VDOT contact link and email the project manager to let him know you support a separated path.

Byrne on Biking

28 May

Photo by James Estrin, New York Times. On David Byrne’s blog: http://www.davidbyrne.com.

Even if you’re not a child of the 1980s, you probably know who David Byrne is (okay, just in case, he is a musician and artist who headed up the awesome band Talking Heads).  You may not have known that he is also a committed cyclist and bicycling advocate.  Bryne used a bike to get around New York way before it was cool, like in the late 1970s.  More recently, he designed a number of very cool artistic bike racks for the city.

Yesterday’s New York Times had a great op-ed by Byrne that basically sings the praises of bicycling and bikable cities, including his adopted hometown, which will also soon see the introduction of North America’s largest bike share system.  The accompanying video, like the photo here, unfortunately shows him riding with his helmet resting in the front basket (?), but it’s still cool to watch him leisurely cruising along the Hudson River in white shoes and Ray Bans.  (Judging by how many times I used “cool” in the last two paragraphs, I guess you can tell that I think Byrne is… well, you know).

Byrne also has a book out called Bicycle Diaries that is now on my summer pleasure reading list.  Apparently it’s based on experiences and reflections cycling all over the U.S. and the rest of the world: he took a bicycle along whenever he went on tour.

Safe Routes on the Chopping Block

27 May

I am trying hard not to over-post on this issue, but it makes me so #$%& angry: according to a recent piece on the site Grist, appropriately titled “Congress Raises Middle Finger to Young Bicyclists,” the conference committee trying to come up with a new transportation bill is poised to essentially get rid of Safe Routes to School.  Depending on the final language of the bill, states could have the option to divert bike-ped funding to highway projects.  It’s not hard to imagine that a few states would refuse to do that, but that many — Virginia included — would find it hard to resist the temptation given how dominant those projects are already.

You most likely already know that bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure receive a disproportionately tiny amount of federal transportation funding, but guess what proportion of that funding SRTS now gets: 0.2%!!!  TWO TENTHS OF ONE PERCENT.  Clearly an expensive and wasteful federal program, given its success in reducing cycling and pedestrian fatalities, helping kids become more fit, and reducing pollution.  I don’t have exact numbers, but I would bet you that the whole SRTS program costs the same or less as one bridge to nowhere. Bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure, as I never tire of saying, costs way less and gives much more bang for the buck than costly highway interchanges, road widening, and the like.

So, I’ll encourage you once again — and thank you if you’ve done so already — to contact your representative and senators and tell them you want dedicated funding for bike-ped and Safe Routes to School.

Click here to contact Bobby Scott, here for Eric Cantor.  And here are links for Webb and Warner.

Belle Isle Skills Area Opening Today

26 May

Sorry this is a bit on the late side, as in this event is happening as I write this… Richmond MORE is celebrating the “soft” opening of the new Belle Isle mountain biking skills area today from noon – 2 p.m. with food and beverages and, of course, the chance to test out the skills area.  The official ribbon cutting will come later, but the course is open for use as of today, so even if you don’t make it to the celebration, take your bike on down and check it out later.

Given that trails around the James River Park are quite challenging, the skills area will provide novice and intermediate riders the chance to hone their skills before hitting the tough stuff.  Later this summer the nearby nail shed will become a road skills area too!

See the Richmond MORE announcement for more details and suggestions on parking (or you could ride your bike there too!).

Cycling Championships This Weekend!

22 May

No, 2015 did not sneak up on you.  Another championship — one that is decidedly more DIY than the World Cycling Championships coming to Richmond in 2015 — is coming to Richmond this weekend.  It’s the North American Cycle Courier Championships!  In addition to the Alley-Cat races that combine speed and skills in navigating urban streets with something akin to a treasure hunt, the championship includes other courier-oriented events like the Quick Lock Competition, Sprints, and Track Stands.

Despite the comparative lack of headlines and much lower cost, this event is just as much if not more a testament to Richmond’s lively and diverse cycling scene as the 2015 races.

Even if you’ve never worked as a bike messenger, you can still enter in the “open” category.  Or just jump in on one of the group rides or parties being held in connection with the event.  In any case, if you feel like the number of fixed-gear bikes being ridden by heavily tatooed folks in Richmond suddenly multiplies this weekend, now you know why!

Gearing Up for 2015

21 May

Credit: JOE MAHONEY/TIMES-DISPATCH

If you weren’t able to get to the Bike to Work Day Rally on Friday, here’s some press and photos from Richmond.com and the Times-Dispatch.  The turnout was respectable given the early hour and the fact that not everyone works near Monroe Park, with something on the order of 100 riders following the mayor from the park to City Hall.

The RTD piece actually throws a much wider net, looking at progress on the Capital Trail and other efforts with an eye toward the 2015 World Cycling Championships to be held in Richmond.  The article does a good job of capturing just how big of a deal this event will be, especially with respect to making significant progress between now and then in terms of bicycle infrastructure, as well as elements of the soon-to-be-announced Riverfront Plan and other improvements.  I hope the optimism expressed in the article about the completion date for the Capital Trail (2014) is on the mark!

In the meantime, get ready to see some more bike racks around town.  My understanding is that they will look something like the image below, with some mounted on parking meter poles (both with and without meter heads on them), and some mounted on their own where poles are not available.  A recent Richmond.com “Why Richmond, Why?” has the low-down on planned locations for the first round of installation.  I especially look forward to seeing more racks in Carytown: I always cringe when I see bikes locked to the trees there, whose survival rate and utility in providing shade are not great anyway.

Photo by Katie Hinds, TransportationNation.org.

Something else that could help push the bicycle-oriented stuff a bit further along would be to have Richmond added to the as-yet short list of cities that have been given a Bike Score by the well-known site Walk Score, which you can use to compare different homes and neighborhoods for walkability.  Bike Score is a bit different in that it rates an entire city rather than a particular area.  If you follow this kind of thing you will not be surprised that Minneapolis and Portland took the top two spots, with D.C. coming in at #6.  If you tweet, you can go the Bike Score page and tweet that you want them to include Richmond.  If RVA is one of the top ten cities receiving the most tweets, it will be included in the rankings.  (Richmond.com picked up on this too).

Bike to Work Rally Tomorrow

17 May

Don’t forget that Bike to Work Day is tomorrow, Friday May 18.  Even if you are not able to bike to work or do not commute downtown, consider joining us to show support for the city’s ongoing efforts toward bike-friendliness.  Here’s the overview from our Bike-Ped Coordinator Jakob Helmboldt:

“Mayor Jones, DCAO Carolyn Graham, and Deputy Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth, David Tyeraer will be joining us for the event concluding with a group ride to the Capital and City Hall to celebrate the event. Light refreshments will be on hand as well. The weather promises to be nearly perfect for a commute by bike.  Join us if you can, and distribute to friend, co-workers and neighbors and invite someone along for the ride.”

There will be a rally at 7:00 a.m. at Monroe Park, followed by a ride to the VA Capital and City Hall at 7:30.  If you would like to ride with others to the rally, meet up at one of the 6 locations listed on the flyer above (click to enlarge).

Hope to see you there!