Every morning, VCU student cyclists weave in-and-out of the onslaught of morning commuters and it’s about time Richmond did something about it. Let’s face it: One word that doesn’t describe Richmond’s roads is modern.
Taking the Connector onto the Monroe Park campus brings me through a slew of bumps and potholes. Downtown at MCV, the roads are a throwback to the old trolley days—especially in areas that are being renovated. Some of these streets still have old streetcar poles.
Richmond recently invested in its roads by designating a fifteen-block-long bicycle lane, starting at Monroe Park and continuing through Franklin and Main Streets.
This new bike lane is beneficial for both cyclists and motorists, as the lanes will keep most bikes out of the way of vehicles. Cars are less likely to deal with random cyclists weaving between lanes, as they did before the project. Cycling will also become a more legitimate way to travel between the MCV and Monroe Park campuses.
It’s no surprise that as bike lanes are created, they increase the number of cyclists willing to participate on the road. The most obvious reason for this is that bike lanes make biking safer than before.
A recent statistic from the American Journal of Public Health has helped illustrate the benefits of bike lanes. Researchers collected information from more than 690 Canadian cyclists who were sent to the emergency room for cycling-related injuries. The researchers conducting the survey cycled to each route where a biker was harmed riding and they found that the crashes were more likely to occur on roads without bike lanes.
Bike lanes also solve a nuisance that frequently bothers me when walking around Richmond: Cyclists traveling on the sidewalk. Fewer cyclists on sidewalks means fewer collisions with pedestrians.
The lanes also stop cyclists from colliding with cars when they leave the sidewalk to cross the street. Who doesn’t have a childhood memory of almost being nailed by a car while crossing the street?
Costing only about $240,000, bike lanes are a reasonably cheap investment that don’t seem to have much of a drawback.
Although these particular lanes will arrive after most of us have graduated and moved on in our lives, future students will be able to enjoy a safe, easy commute between campuses without having to avoid being crushed by someone driving to their office.