Good News and Bad

29 Jun

The relative infrequency of posts lately is not due to the lack of important cycling-related stuff happening — just summer family travel, in some cases to places without internet access.

Speaking of places without internet access, our most recent trip included camping at Grayson Highlands State Park and a wonderful ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail, a rail-to-trail in southwest Virginia.  Since we had small kids along, we did a roughly 17-mile section of the trail from Whitetop Station to Damascus that amounts to a long, slow descent of about 1500 feet.  That section of the trail runs near and in many places crosses over beautiful Laurel Creek, and at the time we were there, the area was thick with white rhododendron blossoms.  The 5-6 hour drive from Richmond is definitely worth it, especially if you plan to take advantage of the great hiking, camping, canoeing, or fishing in the area.  The Grayson Highlands park has some mountain biking trails of its own, and there are probably others nearby.

Closer to home, you may have started to see some new bike racks installed in a few locations in downtown Richmond, including on Grace Street near Pearly’s and on Broad near The Camel (maybe this will help a bit with some of the recent parking issues).  There are many more to come; these particular racks were installed over existing headless parking meter poles, while later ones will be installed on meters with heads, or bolted to the ground in places where these are not available.  Even on existing meters, which often serve as bike racks, this makes it much easier to lock your bike securely, and each one easily accommodates two bikes.

Additional good news is that Sportsbackers and Martin’s have decided to up the cycling ante with the Tour of Richmond, to be held October 6.  There will be a century (102 mile), metric century (58 mile), and 29 mile option.  They apparently will keep time, so the more competitive among you can see how you match up against your rivals!  See the press release for more info.  And if you’re willing to get out tomorrow (June 30) despite the heat and would rather ride in circles, you can head over to the Pedal to the Metal fundraiser event held every year at Richmond International Speedway to benefit the Richmond Police Athletic League.

Okay, now to the bad news.  Bicycling and walking did not fare well in the compromise transportation bill announced yesterday.  To make a long, sad story short, much of the funding for biking and walking was traded away as a concession to keep unrelated provisions regarding the Keystone XL pipeline and the regulation of coal ash out of the bill.  See this statement from America Bikes and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership for more details.  Some funding remains, but states can now opt out of what was once a requirement to spend a percentage of highway funds on beautification, bike accommodations, and the like.  Fortunately this is only a 2-year bill, so there will be time to gear up for the next battle in 2014.

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