At the end of December, I published a blog entitled New Year’s Resolution: “Bicycling is a Great Way to Get in Shape, Save Money, Help the Environment, and Get Rewarded for it!” In the blog, (see https://ridesolutions.org/2020/12/30/new-years-resolution-bicycling-is-a-great-way-to-get-in-shape-save-money-help-the-environment-and-get-rewarded-for-it/) I referenced numerous articles lauding the many health benefits of bicycling. In addition to these benefits, I noted that bicycling can save money, wear-and-tear on vehicles, and has virtually no environmental impact. Bicycling is certainly among the most enjoyable workouts one can engage in, and when cycling is incorporated into the commute or other trips, much more time is made available for other activities one may wish to partake in. Spring-like weather is making its appearance, and as we transition into March, warmer days are sure to follow. Therefore, now is a great time to get your bike in working order for the warmer weather. To this point, I have focused my bicycling blogs within the Martinsville and Danville areas, but this week’s blog will focus on Rocky Mount.
The Town of Rocky Mount, while characterized by a main downtown area, as is the case with most towns, has a distinct uptown and downtown area, with many of the Town’s governmental functions such as the police department and the courthouse located uptown along Main Street, and many of the commercial establishments situated downtown, along Franklin Street. For the purposes of this blog, downtown and uptown will collectively fall under the term “central Rocky Mount.”
Bicyclists can ride to many work and non-work destinations in central Rocky Mount. In addition to the aforementioned governmental functions centered in the Town, central Rocky Mount is home to Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital, as well as a variety of small service and professional-related establishments, the Franklin Center, and Ply-Gem Windows which employs hundreds. In addition to work destinations, other popular destinations include the Rocky Mount Farmers’ Market, the Franklin County Public Library, the Harvester Performance Center, and various food-related establishments.
The Town of Rocky Mount offers challenges, but also great opportunities for bicyclists. The Town does not currently offer any multi-use trails linking destinations, so all routes are on-road. Additionally, the Town is very hilly, which may dissuade some riders from venturing to local destinations by bike. Speed limits in town, however, are relatively low, generally ranging from 25 to 35 MPH, contributing to cyclist comfort and safety. What’s more, Main Street north of Scuffling Hill Road, consists of four lanes in most areas, while Tanyard Road, serving much of the Town’s commercial shopping establishments and the Franklin County High School, also comprises four lanes. What’s more, Pell Avenue, which parallels Tanyard Road, is characterized by relatively wide travel lanes, providing extra space for cyclists to safely ride alongside vehicles. There are many smaller residential streets that link to Main Street, Tanyard Road, and Pell Avenue, and because the Town is not too spread out, bicycling is very feasible in Rocky Mount. Below is a screen shot of recommended bicycle routes as indicated within the interactive map component of the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan. The green lines superimposed over the roads indicate recommended bicycle routes, and these include Franklin Street (Route 40), North Main Street, West Court Street, East Court Street, Randolph Street, and Tanyard Road, to name several. The link to this interactive map feature can be navigated to by visiting https://wppdc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/View/index.html?appid=abfe3df1b6ec4769aff2253d528fe2e9&extent=-80.3966,36.5503,-79.3420,37.0073. By clicking on any portion of a green line representing a recommended road segment, a small menu will pop up which will provide you, as a cyclist, valuable information about that section of the route, such as posted speed limit, the number of travel lanes, and average daily traffic volumes expressed as Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT).
Waid Park, located southwest of Rocky Mount, is a popular recreation area for the town. From central Rocky Mount, the most direct route to this park would be Franklin Street (Route 40) west to Six Mile Post Road, which provides direct access to the park. For those who may be a bit intimidated by the traffic volumes on Franklin Street, one good alternative would be to ride South Main Street to Scuffling Hill Road, which leads directly to Six Mile Post Road. Another way to access Waid Park from central Rocky Mount, minimizing the use of Franklin Street, would be to ride East College Street, to West College Street, to Dent Street, and to Hatcher Street. Hatcher Street intersects Franklin Street, but the cyclist would only need to bike on a very short segment (about 270 ft) of Franklin Street. There, turn left onto Mountain Top Drive, and continue on to Greenview Drive. Greenview Drive will intersect with Scuffling Hill Road, which will lead the cyclist directly to Six Mile Post Road, by crossing Franklin Street. The two maps below illustrate this route. The top map illustrates the first part of the route, comprising East and West College Streets, Dent Street, and Hatcher Street, while the bottom map illustrates Mountain Top Drive, Greenview Drive, Scuffling Hill Road, and Six Mile Post Road.
The Town of Rocky Mount, with its relatively low posted speed limits, scenic beauty, and proximate land uses makes bicycling an efficient way to travel in and around the town. While the hills can be a bit intimidating, especially for new or infrequent riders, don’t lose heart! From my personal experience, I can tell you that riding up hills can be difficult and frustrating at first, but our bodies quickly acclimate to this exercise, and very soon you barely even feel winded. Additionally, hilly areas provide us better workout results, giving us more incentive to ditch the gym and spend more time doing the things we enjoy doing following our commutes and other daily trips.
Whether you live in Rocky Mount, Martinsville, Danville, Stuart, or anywhere else in the West Piedmont Planning District and you bike as part of your commute or trip to the store, appointment, or other destination, don’t forget to log your trips in the RIDE Solutions app to earn points toward great rewards! Simply download the free app at www.ridesolutions.org today!