Bike enthusiasts want to make it safer to cycle River City

Posted at 12:36 AM, May 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-16 00:36:02-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Rolling in the river city. A movement afoot in Richmond to get more people moving on two wheels instead of four. Max Hepp-Buchanan is Sports Backers new Director of Bike Walk RVA.

"We need to establish a plan to build infrastructure that makes people feel safe," says Hepp-Buchanan. "There is going to be a lot more people on bikes on the roads."

Max helped his hometown of Seattle implement a master bike plan - transforming the Emerald City into one of the most pro-cycle cities in the nation.

"There is definitely a window of opportunity to build some high impact infrastructure that really says Richmond is a real bike friendly town. What Seattle is doing now is creating a network of protected bike ways."

But elevating Richmond to a world class bike city says Max will require time and money.

Hepp-Buchanan says, "Getting to the park to the library to the grocery store should all be comfortable, safe and easy for people of all ages and abilities."

In the last couple of years City Hall has been installing bike racks and signage on streets alerting drivers to the potential presence of cyclists.

Some cyclists say Richmond can do a better job of promoting cycling. "It is not safe," says cyclist Alfred Brown. "They don't have any bike lanes at all; cars not paying attention."

Gera de Villiers, who is originally from South Africa says she is concerned many drivers disregard most cyclists, "More bike paths would be nice. Traffic lights as well would be great."

Cyclists say it comes down to safety and staying alive. According to Sports Backers the region has only 18 miles of dedicated bike lanes. It is far less than the 55 miles in Washington, D.C. and 176 miles in Portland, Oregon.

Braden Govoni with Carytown Bike Shop says improving the roads for cyclists will also help ease congestion.

"I ride to work everyday rain or shine. The biggest thing is bike only areas," says Govoni. "They want somewhere where they can ride and feel safe. And right now we don't have anything like that."

Sports Backers new bike guru, Max Hepp-Buchanan says Richmond is a few cranks away from becoming a top tier cycle city.

"Keep bicycling if you're on a bike. Obey the rules of the road," says Hepp-Buchanan. If you're driving watch out for more people on bikes. Get on the road and give it a try because if that infrastructure is there they'll see that riding a bike is a safe and enjoyable thing to do."