I went to the recent Bike, Pedestrian and Trails workgroup organized by the City of Richmond at The Carillon in Byrd Park. It was very informative and the crowd of nearly 200 showed that Richmonders definitely want improvements to planning city streets for pedestrians and cyclists and not just for vehicles and public transit.
It got me to thinking about my own daily work commute between my home in Lakeside and South Richmond at the NBC12 studios on Midlothian Turnpike. I often take a route that is 10.5 miles from Lakeside Avenue by way of Powhite Parkway, Chippenham Parkway to Midlothian Turnpike. Other than the one fantastic highlight as I pass over the Powhite Parkway Bridge and get to see the James River, the commute is not appealing.
A second, more scenic and direct route for me is an 8.2-mile commute from Lakeside to Midlothian Turnpike by way of Lakeside Avenue/Hermitage Road/The Boulevard/Westover Hills Boulevard and Midlothian Turnpike. Really, one right turn from my street and all those named streets are the same road until I reach Midlothian Turnpike.
That commute would follow the proposed North/South major route outlined by the commission. It is a shorter route and much more scenic. I would pass Joseph Bryan Park, the huge homes on Hermitage Road, Gen. A.P. Hill statue at Laburnum, Gen. Stonewall Jackson at Monument Avenue, the crape myrtle and museum lined Boulevard and The Fan and Museum Districts, Columbus statue at Byrd Park, The Carillon, Maymont, the Boulevard Bridge and the James River, and Westover Hills along the way.
Of course, there is The Diamond and the Greyhound bus station and Midlothian Turnpike along the way to bring me down, but it can’t all be perfect. And The Boulevard is actually No. 10 on the list of the streets with most vehicle vs. cyclist accidents in Richmond.
I’ve done this commute by bike just once, and it could work if I had the time. It would take about an hour, plus the time to cool down and shower. It takes about 20 minutes by car if there is no traffic, but it costs me between $0.70 and $0.35 in tolls one way.
My workplace grades fair (especially for a TV station) on the recommendations to promote alternative transportation modes for commuters:
- Bike rack – NO (I’d make due)
- Shower – YES
Key issue: I’m a father of two and my family takes priority over exercise and going green. I need to drop off and/or pick up my kids daily. But on special occasions, this would be a great way to combine a workout with a commute and save fuel. We will have to stick to the 2-mile commute to Sweet 95 for ice cream and 3-mile commute to the Lewis Ginter Recreation Association pool for now.