A Bike-Walk Boulevard coming to Church Hill!

It’s a modern miracle! Or, like a really old-fashioned miracle! Either way, this will do big things.

This coming Monday (September 28th) City Council will discuss Resolution 2015-R055, which, if adopted, could get the wheels moving on a new bike-walk street that stretches the length of 29th Street in Church Hill.

For those not weirdly fascinated and consumed by alternative means of transportation, a bike-walk street is a road designed for shared use between vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians–but with priority given to the latter two. They can feature signage, pavement markings, and traffic calming measures to achieve this goal. Basically you want to discourage, but not totally prevent, vehicle usage while encouraging bike and pedestrian usage.1


The proposed bike-walk street on 29th Street will connect Church Hill North to Libby Hill, the Capital Trail, and the James River in the south. It’s an important addition to the existing and proposed bicycle infrastructure2 that services a dense slice of town. Check out the list of things adjacent to the proposed route:

  • Chimborazo, George Mason Elementary, Woodville Elementary
  • Armstrong High (and the ultra rad Armstrong Cycling Team)
  • Libby Hill Park
  • The Robinson Theater
  • A handful of parks and playgrounds
  • Richmond Community Hospital
  • Fairfield Court and Creighton Court
  • The new mixed-income housing going in at the former Armstrong High School site

Earlier this year, a group of community members formed East End Connects to advocate for this north-south corridor and even drew up a proposed map–which is pretty much identical to what the city is proposing now. In their own words:

We reviewed the most recent version of Richmond’s Bike Master Plan and saw a huge gap. There are bike-walk projects planned for Church Hill south of Broad Street that connect to other planned biking and walking infrastructure throughout the city, but there are no official plans to connect Church Hill North and South – leaving residents north of Broad Street stranded.

The bicycle master plan does have a lot of neat stuff planned for the East End, but most of it is concentrated in areas just north of Broad or in the Bakery Annex down by Jefferson and 25th. This new project will give folks who may not own a car the opportunity to safely use their bikes as a legitimate and primary means of transportation and allow them to hook into the rest of the city’s bike infrastructure.

The estimated cost for the project is $650,000. $520,000 will be requested from VDOT in the form of federal Transportation Alternatives money. To qualify for this money the city must contribute 20% of the project total ($130,00), which will come from the Capital Improvement Programs budget.

  1. If all of this sounds vaguely familiar, that’s probably because construction of the city’s first bike-walk street (Floyd Avenue from about Thompson to Laurel) begins next month. 
  2. This proposed bike-walk street doesn’t appear in the City’s bicycle master plan. 
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Ross Catrow

Founder and publisher of RVANews.

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