City officials race to ensure bike trail is open for Riverrock

Published: May. 15, 2014 at 3:55 AM EDT|Updated: May. 25, 2014 at 3:55 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - RVA's cycling community is reassured that Dominion Riverrock's Urban Assault race will not be rerouted, this weekend. Homeowners had threatened to close off a popular part of the course that runs across their private land.

Nearly a mile of the Buttermilk trail passes through private property, owned by Josh and Carrie Rogers. Thousands of bikers maneuvers through the trail each year. This weekend, 200 are slated to race through during the race. Josh and Carrie say it's too much of a risk, if the city won't give them liability insurance.

For years, the couple has allowed bikers and joggers through the trail, laden with twists, turns and tree roots. The couple supports the biking community, and ride themselves.

However, Carrie says after years of correspondence, city officials still haven't offered them protection from a lawsuit, called an easement. If any accidents happen, Carrie and her husband could be sued. Carrie says she and her husband have asked the city for seven years to offer them liability coverage.

"Every other month or so, we'd send another email saying we still need coverage," said Carrie.

Even though some progress was made, the couple still is not protected by the city's insurance plan or any legal measures. Carrie and her husband are considering closing off the trail.

"It would be nice if the issue didn't come up right before we were all going to enjoy the race," said Sarah Wood, a Riverrock racer biking the trail several days before the race.

"I think the trail is a gem for people who live in the city," said Bradley Barr, another biker.

If bikers can't use the Buttermilk trail near the Rogers' property, many will likely cross over Westover Hills Boulevard, a busy road. Cyclists would have to carry their bikes over a guardrail, to reach the other side of the trail.

City officials are now rushing to get Carrie and her family on its insurance policy. This is a step short of an official easement, which administrators tell the family they're working towards.

"Until we see that paperwork, and until we have an appropriate amount of coverage, we simply can't take on the liability of having the race on the property this weekend," continued Carrie.

The Rogers say unless they get the same amount of protection the city has, they will close the trail for any future use.

Meantime, Dominion Riverrock organizers have told the family that they will add their names to its event insurance policy. This way, no races will be interrupted during Riverrock.

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