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State proposes ban on riding bikes past Capitol

A rendering presented by the Virginia Department of General Services to the Richmond Planning...
A rendering presented by the Virginia Department of General Services to the Richmond Planning Commission depicts a reimagined Bank Street.(Virginia Department of General Services)
Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 8:05 AM EST
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Planning officials in Richmond are urging the state to reconsider a plan to bar riding a bike in front of the Capitol on Bank Street.

State officials floated the idea, which calls for cyclists to dismount upon entering the area, as part of plans to convert the area into a permanent “promenade/bus way.”

“This is a critical connection in the city’s bike network,” said Planning Commissioner Max Hepp-Buchanan, who said Bank Street offers the only safe east-west route for bikes through downtown Richmond and noted city bike lanes feed into the street on either side of the Capitol.

The road also offers connections to the Capitol Trail, a bike and pedestrian path between Richmond and Williamsburg, and is designated as an official U.S. bike route.

The Virginia Department of General Services presented the plan earlier this week to the commission, which is reviewing a local ordinance that would permanently transfer city ownership of the street to the state.

Multiple members wondered why the city hadn’t negotiated an easement guaranteeing pedestrian and bicycle access. City administrators said it was not a condition they pursued but that they trusted the state to maintain access to the area.

A representative of the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, meanwhile, gently reminded the commission that they had no say in the matter because the General Assembly passed legislation requiring the city to give the street to the state.

Department of General Services Director Joe Damico defended the proposed dismount area as a sensible safety measure, noting that he had occasionally seen near-collisions between bicycles and pedestrians in the area.

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.(Virginia Mercury)

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.

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