Can Richmond Transition to a Multi-Modal City?

Richmond, Virginia, has a plan to take its transit system from puny to respectable. Image: City of Richmond via ## DC##

There’s a whole lot of potential in Richmond, Virginia. This smaller southern city has many of the right ingredients for a walkable, bike-friendly city, says Dan Malouff at Beyond DC:

It’s small, with only a million people in its whole metro area, but it has a relatively large downtown and some very high quality urban neighborhoods.

But up until now, its weak transit system has helped make Richmond the kind of city where everyone drives everywhere. Fortunately, the city has a new plan that could change all that. Richmond leaders have proposed a dramatic expansion of its lackluster transit system — built around a network of high-frequency bus lines. The city’s also planning to build a system of bikeways to match, Malouff says:

The City of Richmond is drafting a new multimodal transportation plan. It builds on existing plans for a BRT line on Broad Street to propose a whole network of priority transit corridors. These would essentially be high quality surface bus routes, like WMATA’s 16th Street line. Not rapid, but not bad.

The draft plan also identifies bike improvements. Richmond is a natural biking city. It’s dense and walkable, and the urban areas are small enough that it’s easy to get to them all with a bike. Among proposed improvements, the plan calls for a bikesharing network, and identifies locations for cycle tracks.

Protected bike lanes in Richmond, Virginia — wouldn’t that be something?

Elsewhere on the Network today: Greater Greater Washington shares the story of a right-hook near-miss that shows how misinformed many drivers are about how to interact with cyclists on the streets. Better Institutions explores the costs of America’s hyper-strict passenger rail regulations. And The City Fix outlines three ways Seoul, South Korea, uses transit, coupled with a commitment to equity, to support a healthy city.

  • Ian Turner

    Keep in mind this is the city that closed its downtown Amtrak station in favor of one far on the outskirts.

  • Fred

    I, for one, would never have expected the NASCAR crowd to be pro-transit.

  • Where do you live Fred?

  • Stuart Squier

    Richmond Main Street Station was closed from 1975 until 2003 after we spent millions renovating it into its current immaculate condition. All Amtrak Northeast Regional trains call at Main Street.

    The big problem we face is not location of the stations but the condition of the tracks serving them. The CSX-owned S-Line tracks are the ones that pass Main Street on their way south over the James River. They are currently single tracked and not available to use for passenger service. So all north/south passenger service uses the CSX A-Line tracks just west of downtown, bypassing Main Street Station and necessitating the stop at Staples Mill in Henrico County. The NE Regional trains stop at Main Street on their way east to Williamsburg and terminate at Newport News. Unfortunately the cost and red tape to upgrade the S-Line tracks are insurmountable to Richmond City alone, it’s a billion-dollar problem that needs state and federal assistance to resolve.

  • Fred

    Oh, just realized I was redirected from the Chicago site to the national site.

  • david vartanoff

    history note Multiple unit control of electric rail cars (and ultimately diesel locomotives dates to Frank Sprague’s experimental work on streetcars in Richmond in 1898.

  • SS

    1888 😉

  • J

    I’m not sure cycle tracks are that crazy an idea for Richmond, and the more we speak of them as crazy, the less likely they are to happen. Here are some other cities with existing cycle tracks that might come as a surprise:

    -Missoula, MT
    -St. Petersburg, FL
    -Memphis, TN
    -Denton, TX
    -Indianapolis, IN
    -Salt Lake City, UT

    If these cities can do it, I see no reason why Richmond building a cycle track would be all that surprising.

  • And this suburban station is quickly reaching capacity. Get there after 8AM and you will find it difficult to park. There is an express bus park and ride lot a few blocks away. Maybe if they hadn’t put the station in a location where you’re almost forced to drive to it, this problem would not occur.

  • onelasttime

    This town blows up when the race comes, but I don’t even know anyone in Richmond remotely interested in NASCAR. It’s a pretty minor part of our city’s culture.

  • thielges

    The kinky route of the red HSR corridor swerving to the east around downtown implicity states “all HSR trains will stop in Richmond”, which I guess is appropriate for a city this size. Trains would have to slow substantially to get around those curves anyways, might as well stop.

    Bon Chance on getting HSR funding. The Eastern Seaboard seems like a promising high volume route.

  • Anonymous

    If anything, it’s crazier for Richmond not to have them–a mostly flat, warm climate city on a grid? With lots of park space along a river? It’s a biking paradise!


Can Richmond Transition to a Multi-Modal City?

There’s a whole lot of potential in Richmond, Virginia. This smaller southern city has many of the right ingredients for a walkable, bike-friendly city, says Dan Malouff at Beyond DC: It’s small, with only a million people in its whole metro area, but it has a relatively large downtown and some very high quality urban […]

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