HOLMBERG: No excuse for the River Road bottleneck that kills

Posted at 12:16 AM, Aug 14, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-15 00:07:41-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--The spot where 24-year-old bicyclist Lanie Kruszewski was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver on July 29is a strange section of roadway.

It’s part of a 1.7 mile long, two-lane bottleneck that chokes down three lanes of Cary Street Road from the east and four lanes of Huguenot Road from the west.

River Road dumps into this bottleneck that’s a daily traffic jam during rush hour and a twisty, hilly, tree-lined lane that is both beautiful and dangerous, bordering the Country Club of Virginia and some of the most expensive real estate in central Virginia.

The University of Richmond is just up the road, and the Huguenot Bridge is a key river crossing and access point to one of the best parks in metro Richmond.

An estimated 30,000 motorists drive through this bottleneck on a typical weekday.

There is either a small shoulder or none at all, which is why most bicyclists steer clear of it.

Alex Merrick rides his bike through there once or twice a week. He says it’s not a place for the casual rider. He’s not surprised that a serious cyclist, like Lanie, was killed there.

But motorists have also died on this strangely narrow stretch, in 2000 and 2004.

And the road-savvy Black Dog – the king of strays – was killed on the eastern edge of the bottleneck three years ago.

The Huguenot bridge is being widened to make it safer and much-more bicycle friendly. But what’s the point if you’ve got to risk life and limb in that 1.7 milelong deathtrap?

A city spokeswoman says the city, VDOT and Henrico are talking about that area.

Talk is cheap. Life is not. Especially not in a city repositioning itself as a haven for bicyclists.

There’s no good reason why one of the area’s most beautiful thoroughfares leading across the river has to contribute to the death of one more soul.