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 a variety of articles discussing 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 this type of workout is incorporated into the commute or other trips, much more time is made available for other activities one may wish to engage in, such as extra time with family, etc. Spring has arrived and, with its moderately warm temperatures and the re-emergence of delightful plant life and budding trees, it is a great time to get out and take advantage of all that nature has to offer. Therefore, now is a great time to get your bike in working order this great season when everything springs (pun intended) back to life! This week’s blog focuses on bicycling in Pittsylvania County, whether you live in or near Chatham, Gretna, Hurt, or on the outskirts of Danville!
Pittsylvania County, though one of the more rural counties in the West Piedmont Planning District, is characterized by numerous towns along U.S. Route 29, which include the communities of Chatham, Gretna, and Hurt. Chatham, serving as the county seat, is home to Pittsylvania County’s and the Town’s administrative offices, Hargrave Military Academy, Chatham Hall, and various retail and service establishments along Main Street. Gretna is home to numerous retail and service establishments, the Centra Gretna Medical Center, industrial enterprises, as well as a middle school and a high school. The Town of Hurt is largely residential, and is home to the restored Wayside Park, to a developing industrial park (the Southern Virginia Multimodal Park), and an elementary school. The town is also a stone’s throw (or a bike ride) away from the more commercialized Town of Altavista, located just across the Roanoke River to the north. In addition to the aforementioned towns located along the U.S. Route 29 corridor, the communities immediately surrounding the City of Danville are relatively populous and serve as suburbs of the City.
If you’re considering getting on your bike to get to work or to go shopping, dining, or to recreate, a great resource to help you choose your route is the interactive map feature of the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan, available at https://wppdc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/View/index.html?appid=abfe3df1b6ec4769aff2253d528fe2e9&extent=-80.3966,36.5503,-79.3420,37.0073. This interactive map comprises a network of recommended bicycle routes throughout the County, which can help you get to where you’d like to go. The figure below is a screenshot from the Regional Bicycle Plan illustrating its functionality. The green lines superimposed over the roadways represent recommended bike routes. Each segment of these routes is clickable, and when one is selected, a menu will pop up which shows characteristics of the route such as posted speed limit, traffic volume (if the route is a road) expressed as AADT (Annual Average Daily Traffic), the number of travel lanes, and road surface material (asphalt or gravel).
Town of Chatham
If you live in Chatham or in the surrounding area and would like to bicycle into town for work, shopping, a medical appointment, or for another reason, there are multiple ways to do so. From the west, Route 57 (Callands Road) is a route recommended by the interactive map of the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan, with a fairly manageable AADT of 2,200 vehicles per day. If you feel more comfortable using a road with less traffic volume than Route 57, a good alternative would be to deviate from Route 57 to Cherrystone Lake Road north to Hodnetts Mill Road, which will lead you directly into town on a road network having very low traffic volumes and perhaps greater scenery than U.S. Route 57. Approaching Chatham from the east, U.S. Route 57 West is a recommended bike route within the Regional Bicycle Plan, having a relatively low AADT of 1,300 vehicles per day. Again, if you would prefer to ride on a route with far fewer vehicles and which you perceive as safer and more comfortable, Fairview Lane is a great option, and is characterized by much lower traffic volumes. Approaching town from the northeast, Chalk Level Road is a great option, characterized by traffic volumes of about 810 vehicles per day. Approaching Chatham from the north, Strader Road is an excellent option, and is also part of the U.S. Route 29 Alternate Priority Corridor, a corridor identified within the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan, which parallels U.S. Route 29 from Danville to Hurt. Approaching Chatham from the south, the road network comprising David Giles Lane, Snakepath Road, Dairy View road, Fairview Road, and David Road, is recommended. As is the case with approaching town from the north, this network is also part of the U.S. Route 29 Alternate Priority Corridor. See below a screenshot of the recommended routes, obtained from the interactive map feature of the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan. Prior to bicycling on the U.S. Route 29 Alternate Priority Corridor, keep in mind that some segments of this Priority Corridor consist of gravel surface road, which is indicated on the Regional Bicycle Plan interactive map.
Town of Gretna
If you live in or in the vicinity of the Town of Gretna and would like to bike into town (or perhaps you already do) for work, shopping, or to access another destination, approaching town from the west, Route 40 (West Gretna Road) is a recommended bike route. However, if you feel more comfortable riding on a road with lower traffic volumes, the road pair comprising Terry Road, Cotton Patch Road, and Lotus Road, which generally parallels (and intersects with) Route 40, is a recommended route. Approaching the Town of Gretna from the north, Rockford School Road, Blue Ridge Drive, and Music Street are all great routes to use. Blue Ridge Drive and Rockford School Road are part of the U.S. Route 29 Alternate Priority Corridor, but a very short segment between this road pair (about 0.13-mile) is on U.S. Route 29 itself; therefore, caution should be used when riding along this short segment. Approaching the Town of Gretna from the east, Route 40 East (East Gretna Road) is a recommended bike route, based on the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan interactive map, and is characterized by traffic volumes of approximately 3,000 vehicles per day. If you’re approaching Gretna from the southeast, Zion Road is a recommended bicycle route, which has an average daily traffic volume of just 400 vehicles. Approaching Gretna from the south, the road pair comprising Strader Road and Taylors Mill Road, which is part of the U.S. Route 29 Alternate Priority Corridor, is recommended by the Regional Bicycle Plan. Approaching town from the southwest, the road pair consisting of Terry Road, Cotton Patch Road, and Lotus Road is a recommended route. The below image shows recommended bicycle routes as shown in the interactive map feature of the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan.
Town of Hurt
The Town of Hurt is largely a residential community, located on the north end of Pittsylvania County, bordering Campbell County just to the north. Given its heavily residential character in contrast to the towns of Chatham and Gretna to its south, it is more likely that if you live there, you might be biking outbound toward the much more commercialized Altavista to the north, or to the restored Wayside Park to the south. Additionally, the developing Southern Virginia Multimodal Park, which promises to be a regional employment center, located just southwest of the town, may be a biking destination for some in the future. To commute to work, shopping, or entertainment to the north in Altavista, the road pairing of West Hurt Road and Main Street (U.S. Route 29 Business) is recommended, and Main Street will bring you over the bridge into Altavista. Bicycling from Hurt to the south (or vice versa), the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan recommends the road pairing of Prospect Road and Blue Ridge Drive. Bicycling from Hurt eastward (or vice-versa), this bicycle plan recommends the road network of East Hurt Road, Ricky Van Shelton Drive, and Grit Road. A map of recommended bicycle routes in and around the Town of Hurt, as shown in the interactive map of the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan, is shown below.
From the Outskirts of Danville
Perhaps you live in Pittsylvania County on the outskirts of Danville, and you are or you’re planning to bicycle into the city for work or for other purposes such as shopping or visiting friends/family. Approaching from the north, the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan recommends using Franklin Turnpike (Route 41) and North Main Street (U.S. Route 29 Business). However, with the higher traffic volumes associated with these roads, riding these routes might be somewhat uncomfortable or intimidating for some riders. A great alternative road pair having significantly lower traffic volumes is Mt View Road to Afton Road (which eventually intersects with Franklin Turnpike just north of the city line), which will enable you to avoid a significant portion of these higher-trafficked roads.
Approaching Danville from the west, the road network comprising Stony Mill School Road, Stony Mill Road, Pine Lake Road, and River Ridge Road, which are all characterized by relatively low traffic volumes, is recommended in the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan. Approaching Danville from the northwest, Mount Cross Road is recommended by this regional bicycle plan; cyclists should use caution when bicycling on Mount Cross Road due to the higher traffic volumes and the general lack of a shoulder. Approaching Danville from the southwest, the regional bicycle plan recommends the road network comprising Huntington Trail, Oak Hill Road, Ed Hardy Road, Horseshoe Road, Loomfixer Lake Road, a short segment of Berry Hill Road, Bachelor Hall Farm Road, Oak Ridge Farms Road, Vandola Church Road, and Vandola Road. This network comprises the Beaches to Bluegrass Priority Corridor developed as part of the Regional Bicycle Plan, which generally follows the planned Beaches to Bluegrass Trail, a planned trail extending from Cumberland Gap, Tennessee to Virginia Beach; this Corridor also serves as an alternative to U.S. Route 58. Please note that some of the segments of this corridor consist of gravel-surfaced roads; these are depicted by dotted lines superimposed over the corridor. The image directly below shows the road network discussed herein which comprises the Beaches to Bluegrass Priority Corridor.
Approaching Danville from the east, the Ringgold Depot Trail serves as an excellent route, as it is dedicated to non-motor vehicle use. The Ringgold Depot Trail, however, currently terminates in the Ringgold community. From there, the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan recommends riding the road pair of Ringgold Road and Tom Fork Road, which will lead you into Danville. From the northeast, Kentuck Road and Old Richmond Road are both recommended by the Regional Bicycle Plan.
If you live in Pittsylvania County and you are currently bicycling as part of your commute or to access shopping, entertainment, dining, or another type of destination, remember that you will earn points toward great rewards by logging every bicycle trip you take into the free RIDE Solutions app, available at www.ridesolutions.org!