Map drawn based on plans courtesy of Chesterfield County, Henrico County and the City of Richmond (Click icon at upper right to expand)
When cyclists from around the world climbed the cobblestones of Libby Hill during the 2015 UCI Road World Championships, Richmond got its bonafides as a capital hooked on bikes. The enthusiasm has been bolstered by projects including the 52-mile Virginia Capital Trail and the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, which provides a bike and pedestrian connection between Manchester and downtown.
City planners have made strides toward getting city residents on bikes by adding to Richmond’s network of bike lanes. This year, officials are drafting plans to add 25 miles of lanes on 10 routes. As of May 2015, the city had 13 miles of bike lanes, according to a Bike Walk RVA report. The price tag is $1.3 million. A combination of federal, state and city funds will cover the costs.
As bike routes are added, more Richmonders are venturing out on two wheels, says Max Hepp-Buchanan, director of Bike Walk RVA, an arm of Sports Backers. “There’s safety in numbers,” he says.
The 10 proposed lanes are part of Richmond’s Bike Master Plan. Completed in 2015, it includes an estimated 70 miles of bike lanes. Nine of the 10 projects are in the design phase, but planners aim to have a two-way bike lane along Franklin Street open by this summer. The thoroughfare would run from Monroe Park to the State Capitol, with the goal of connecting the Floyd Avenue Bike Boulevard to downtown. The project is estimated to cost $300,000, 80 percent of which is paid through federal funds.
The bike bug is also spreading in Henrico and Chesterfield counties. In November, a Henrico referendum approved a bond issue for a $14 million roadway expansion project that includes a bike route. A sidewalk, multiuse trail and a four-lane divided roadway would be added along 1.9 miles of the Richmond-Henrico Turnpike.
Henrico painted its first bike lane in December along 1.6 miles on Terrace Drive in the Wellesley neighborhood, after numerous citizen requests. The county has other shared use and off-road biking routes, but the new bike lane is the first on-street option exclusive to bikes. Henrico is also home to 16 miles of the Virginia Capital Trail. By spring, officials plan to complete a review to identify other areas for on-street bike lanes.
In 2015, Chesterfield adopted its Bikeways and Trails plan, which calls for the addition of 28 miles of bikeways over the next 10 years. The county already had 40 miles of bikeways and shared-use trails.
“We are optimistic about what the future of Chesterfield looks like,” Hepp-Buchanan says. “It will sort of happen piece by piece, but there is a framework to make sure things do happen.”