On September 9, Mayor Dwight Jones and Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Bike Walk RVA, joined in opening the new bike lanes on the Manchester Bridge. Here are the Mayor's remarks from today about the Buffered Bike Lane Project.
Good morning residents and cyclists of the city of Richmond. Thank you all for joining us here today.
I really enjoy telling everyone I can that we have a very enthusiastic and significant cycling community here in the city of Richmond. That is why I am so pleased to be here today to mark this very important milestone.
As a “river city” bridges are critical linkages within our transportation network, providing limited opportunities to literally and metaphorically bridge the gap between downtown and other destinations north of the river with communities south of the river.
Our James River bridges carry high volumes of vehicles and are often unwelcoming environments for bicyclists.
The City is making a concerted effort to reduce these significant barriers to safe and comfortable bicycling corridors and the improvements on the Manchester Bridge and Lee Bridge, as well as last year’s MLK Bridge enhancements, have created bike lanes that go beyond a simple 4” wide stripe of paint.
We are building bike lanes with spacious buffers separating bike and motor vehicle traffic and utilizing green pavement markings in conflict zones such as turning lanes, merging points, and busy intersections to further increase bicyclist safety and motorist awareness of these bikeways.
Richmond is joining other forward-thinking cities in adopting these newer, but proven design treatments to make cycling a safer, more attractive transportation option for our residents and visitors, whether they bike by choice or necessity.
These bridge improvements, along with the buffered bike lanes on W. Leigh Street, Brookland Parkway, Oliver Hill Way and N. 18th Street all stem from the detailed work that went into creating the City of Richmond’s first Bike Master Plan which received tremendous public input.
These projects are only a first step towards building a robust network of bikeways across and throughout the City, whether they be additional buffered bike lanes, barrier-separated bike lanes such as the proposed Franklin & Main cycletrack, shared-use paths such as the Cannon Creek Greenway and long-awaited Virginia Capital Trail, or bike boulevards such as the Floyd Ave bike-walk street, set to start construction in October after a lengthy design and public involvement process.
The City is continuing with implementation of additional bikeways now, and into the future in order to bridge the network gaps and create connected and continuous bikeways.
These projects have begun the development of several critical “spine” routes throughout the city that we will continue to build upon and connect to, and we are aggressively pursuing funding sources such as federal transportation grant funds and state revenue sharing funds to leverage City dollars and maximize our investments in creating more multimodal transportation infrastructure.
The work that we are celebrating today also moves us closer to welcoming the world as the Cycling World Championships begin in a mere nine days. And I want to take a moment to acknowledge some of the infrastructure improvements we have completed in preparation for that event.
Over the past four years, we have paved 43 lane miles along the race route at a cost of about $3 million. To put this into perspective our entire paving budget for that four year period is $27 million.
We have completed eight miles of sidewalks, installed 275 ADA ramps, planted 180 street trees, finished 83 intersection markings, installed 950 signs and will have completed four new gateway signs before the race starts. The final sign, sitting along I-95 North at the 64 East interchange, will be completed by September 11.
Bike related infrastructure improvements include the installation of 420 bike racks, 2.57 miles of bike trails, and today’s event that acknowledges the completion of 23.5 miles of bike lanes.
I am extremely pleased that we are working to change our communities to accommodate more active modes of transportation. Even as we welcome the world, all of these infrastructure improvements will be here for future generations to enjoy.
I would like to thank all of our partners who have helped us move forward. In particular, I would like to thank Sports Backers and Bike Walk RVA for all of their efforts in not only promoting active lifestyles, but for supporting pedestrian-friendly infrastructure projects.
Now, I am pleased to welcome Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Bike Walk RVA, to the podium to help detail how to use and what these bike infrastructure improvements mean for the people who ride bicycles and for people who drive cars.