As mentioned in a blog post earlier this month, May is Bike to Work Month. This week, the week of May 16th, is Bike to Work Week, and Friday, May 20th is Bike to Work Day.
This week, and especially this Friday, May 20th, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) and we at RIDE Solutions, are encouraging commuters to give a commuting by bicycle a try. Many of you reading this may work beyond biking distance from your homes. But for those who live relatively close to your workplace and have access to a reasonably safe route to work, this is a great opportunity to get a workout, while saving money on gas and wear-and-tear on your vehicle. If you enjoy the ride, you might want to try to stick with it at least once a week for the rest of the spring and into the summer and fall.
What are safe routes, and how can you find them? If you live in and around the Cities of Martinsville or Danville, for instance, you are likely aware of the Dick & Willie Passage and Danville Riverwalk Trails, respectively. These are both well-developed trail systems that comprehensively serve their respective communities. Additionally, you are likely aware of local roads that have relatively low posted speed limits and/or reasonably low traffic volumes.
In addition, the interactive map feature of the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan is an excellent resource to help you select a suitable bicycle route between your home and your workplace. This plan presents a comprehensive network of routes throughout the West Piedmont Planning District that have been recommended due to favorable route characteristics such as low traffic volumes, good sight distance from the perspective of vehicles toward other users of the road, manageable topography, and other features that make these routes safe and enjoyable for bicyclists. The West Piedmont Planning District includes the communities of Franklin, Henry, Patrick, and Pittsylvania Counties, the Cities of Danville and Martinsville, and the Town of Rocky Mount. The recommended routes are represented by green lines superimposed over roads and trails, and are selectable, enabling you to view information about the route segment which, if a road, typically includes the posted speed limit, average daily traffic expressed as Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT), and road surface type, among other information. The regional bicycle plan was adopted in 2018, so data are dated by several years, however, year-to-year data varies very little. In fact, it’s very likely that traffic volumes on roadways have declined slightly over the past two years due to the COVID pandemic. The screenshot below shows how the map and pop-up route segment menu appear on the screen of your mobile device or PC. To access the interactive map, select the hyperlink at the opening of this paragraph, or click https://wppdc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/View/index.html?appid=abfe3df1b6ec4769aff2253d528fe2e9&extent=-80.3966,36.5503,-79.3420,37.0073.
Another great resource for you to reference, especially if you have not gone bicycling in a while, if you consider yourself a beginner, or you just want to learn about bike-related events going on throughout the Commonwealth, is Bike!VA, a bicycling resource page managed by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT). Here, you’ll find some great tips on bike safety, information about bringing your bike on public transit, a directory of bike share systems throughout the Commonwealth, and information about bike trails throughout the state that may be useful to you. Click on this Bike!VA hyperlink, or visit www.bikeva.org to access the site.
Before you record any of your commute trips by bike, however, make sure you register for RIDE Solutions by going to www.ridesolutions.org, if you haven’t already, so that you’ll have access to the app. Once there, click “Login/Create Account,” and the only thing left to do is register, which is as easy as entering your first and last name, your email address, and a password. That’s it! You can also download the RIDE Solutions app to your smartphone for a more user-friendly experience. Now you’re ready to RIDE! Make sure to log at least one commute trip during Bike to Work Day or the month of May for a chance to win a $100 gift card! Happy pedaling!