Richmond building for a safer place to walk & bike

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Mayor Dwight C. Jones wants to make Richmond more pedestrian and bike-friendly and he's recommending the city council spend well over a million dollars to do it.

His commission on bikes and trails has wrapped up six months of work.

Those hitting the roads on fewer than four wheels say Richmond needs to do more for the thousands who walk and ride nearly every day.

"We wouldn't have to be weaving in and out of traffic, we wouldn't have to be going the wrong way on a one way road," said VCU freshman Mary Eccles.

"Yesterday my friend got hit on the hip by a car and he was just walking around. It's dangerous," said VCU freshman, Richard Peche.

"I've had quite a few close calls, I've had a few hit me. Nothing serious but, yeah, I think it needs to be looked at real well," said Kevin Caldwell, who bikes often.

A commission appointed by Mayor Jones studied the city's bike paths, trails and pedestrian safety issues for the past six months.

"We have a beautiful city for biking, people tell us that all the time and so we've got to put the mechanism in place to facilitate people who want to do that and there's a huge enthusiast cycling community in this city," Jones said.

To set the wheels in motion, so to speak, the commission is recommending the city set aside $1.5 million in the next budget cycle.

The commission also recommends the city create a position and hire someone to manage the pedestrian, bicycle and trail issues.  It asks the city to make sure all future road projects include space for pedestrians and cyclists.

And then there are the trails. "As far as down by the river," Caldwell said, "a lot of the trails down there need to be worked on a little bit, but they've got some real nice ones."

The city's already set aside more than a million dollars this year to fix up and even build new trails. Mayor Jones said he's convinced making the city more pedestrian-friendly will make Richmond a more attractive place to live.

The mayor and councilman Doug Conner are asking city council to pass the commission's recommendations by the end of the year.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.