Archive | July, 2013

Ride Center at Pocahontas

31 Jul

If you do much mountain biking in this area you’ve probably already heard about developments to make Pocahontas State Park near Richmond into one of only eleven official Ride Centers in the world designated as such by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA).  See earlier coverage here.

Well, according to Richmond.com, your input is being requested at a meeting this Thursday, August 1 at 6 p.m. at the park’s Heritage Center.

More specifically, a plan for changes is being developed that will include the following:

  • 32 miles of new mountain bike trails.
  • A day-use trailhead with parking, restrooms, changing rooms and outdoor showers.
  • A connector between existing trails and the proposed trail system.
  • A hand cyclist training center to facilitate access to the trail systems for those who cannot operate traditional bikes.
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Today’s Bike Parade

27 Jul

bicycle parade

Did anyone participate in the bike parade this evening?  How was it?  What kind of crowd?  How did it compare with Critical Mass rides of the past?  Obviously I caught wind of this just a bit too late, but the good news is that it apparently happens every last Friday of the month.

I’m curious about this because I’ve been kind of hoping for a fun ride in Richmond a bit more laid back than Critical Mass.  Maybe it’s having a four year-old on the back of my bike and being over 40, but something about “bike parade” attracts me more.  I hope it’s a bit more like the “bike parties” that some folks in Baltimore have been organizing lately.  From what I can tell, a bike party is like a bike parade — all about fun and not at all about speed, just cruising as a group around town — but with a sound system and costumes.  After reading about it I have to admit I have fantasized about pedaling through Carytown with disco duds to the rhythm of “Funky Town.”  Maybe I’ll get my behind in gear to organize that sometime soon, but in the meantime we have bike parade!

Urban Skills Online: New LAB Videos

20 Jul

Yes, I’m still here — that is, the blog still is.  But I’ve been traveling a bit lately and will be doing a bit more, but will be back at the beginning of August to combing the web for bike-related news to throw your way.

That said, I did want to share the news that the League of American Bicyclists has created a series of videos that teach a whole range of techniques for riding in traffic.  They’re part of a broader LAB program called Smart Cycling.  So if you know of anyone who could use a primer on things like lane changing, how to use bike lanes, or what to wear when cycling, point them toward the Smart Cycling page.

 

Richmond Leaders Learn from DC

3 Jul
Richmond visitors enjoy the innovative 2-way buffered bike lane on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Richmond visitors enjoy the buffered bike lane on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Maybe it’s just me, but everything in Richmond slows down a bit when we get into the later summer months — at least that’s one of my excuses for the recent dearth of posts.

Another excuse is that I was fortunate to be out of town last Tuesday for a great educational excursion organized by Bike Walk RVA and Sports Backers, and funded by the Community Foundation and Richmond Memorial Health Foundation.

Nothing can beat actually walking around a pedestrian-oriented urban center and actually riding a bike on a separated path or urban cycle track to convince people that such infrastructure is worth the investment.  So about 50 decision-makers and advocates of various stripes from Richmond City, Henrico, Chesterfield, and Hanover counties visited Arlington and DC to get a direct taste of what great pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure is like.

The afternoon was spent on a tour of DC bike infrastructure.  Especially when it came to the buffered bike lane on Pennsylvania Avenue (see photo above), most were amazed at how easy, safe, and even fun it felt to ride right down the middle of a major thoroughfare.  For some it may have been the first time (or the first time recently) that they rode a bicycle in an urban environment, and I think it was pretty clear that good infrastructure can make it an appealing option for people who don’t think of themselves as “cyclists.”

The group also got a very detailed introduction to the Capital Bike Share, the very successful bike share system that covers the district, Arlington, and Alexandria.  Although it seems really obvious once you think about it, a big take-away for me was that a bike share system can do a lot to improve perceptions of bicycling and bicyclists.  According to the CBS folks, it helps to displace the stereotypes of lycra-clad speedsters and bicycles as purely recreational in favor of bicycling as a practical way to get around for anyone.

The morning was spent on a walking tour of the thriving Clarendon section of Arlington.  From what the tour guides and others said, what is now “downtown” Clarendon used to look quite a bit like Broad Street in Richmond just west of the 195: car lots, parking lots, anything but urban.  Now Clarendon is a lively and attractive, thriving area with quite a bit of housing density and office space, but also wide sidewalks, bike lanes, retail shops, and outdoor cafes.  It’s a place people want to live and work.

Visitors gather in front of the Capitol to be addressed by Rep. Eric Cantor.

Visitors gather in front of the Capitol to be addressed by Rep. Eric Cantor.

This kind of transformation doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s possible if leaders commit to making a vibrant, walkable, bikeable environment.  As some pointed out, Richmond is not Arlington, especially when it comes to public transit (there’s a Metro stop in the middle of the revitalized area).  But even if Richmond never has a streetcar again (much less a subway), better public transit, combined with good infrastructure for biking and walking, could make Richmond just as vibrant.

This is partly about recognizing and anticipating emerging trends — trends associated with the kind of people cities are competing to attract.  Overall miles driven and car registration is declining in the U.S., and it’s not just because of the recession.  Young people in particular are biking and walking more, and they want to live in places conducive to that (see this StreetFacts video and this article from Bloomberg Businessweek).

The group was addressed at various points by Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine as well as Representative Eric Cantor.  They all expressed support for expanding transportation options, which is encouraging — especially if they follow through with policy and funding!  Even more crucial is that the inspiration taken from this visit will translate locally into heightened interest and concrete action toward expanding bikeability and walkability in the Richmond region.