Planners Survey Bike Route 76 for Improvements - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Planners Survey Bike Route 76 for Improvements

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Central Virginia planners are surveying 136 miles of a cross-country bike route that runs through the region.

Bike Route 76 directs riders on some of the area’s busiest, curviest roads. One trouble spot planners have identified is Route 53, which winds its way from Route 20 to Monticello. There are no shoulders, the drop-offs are steep, and it has become a busy commuter road. But a study is looking at ways to make it safer for cyclists to pedal through our part of the cross-country bike route.

Shawn Tevendale, owner of Blue Ridge Cyclery, grew up cycling central Virginia's roads, including the region's stretch of the national bike Route 76.

“I think a lot of these roads, when they were originally conceived for the 76 bike route, were not as heavily trafficked as they are today,” Tevendale said.

The route was mapped for the bicentennial in 1976. Signs direct cyclists through four central Virginia counties and the city of Charlottesville.

“It's a little deceiving when you see a bike route sign. You may think it's a safe road to ride your bike on, but in reality some of these roads just aren't that safe,” said Will Cockrell, Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission program manager.

That's why the commission is working on a Route 76 corridor study. Right now, crews are surveying the 136 miles cyclists take through the region.

“We're noticing there are some road segments that are very narrow. There are blind spots for cyclists,” Cockrell said.

They'll study accident data and recommend roadway improvements. The corridor study could reroute sections of the original 40-year-old trail.

“We're trying to collect information about potentially what improvements could help make that roadway safer, not only for cyclists but also for motorists as well,” Cockrell said.

Tevendale believes the study will make it safer for cross-country cyclists pedaling their way through central Virginia.

“They've put some trust in us that those roads will be safely navigable based on them being on a declared bike map and bike route,” Tevendale said.

The study will also develop a campaign to promote Route 76 ahead of the world road cycling championship coming to Richmond in 2015.

The commission plans to get Charlottesville-area cycling groups involved in the study this spring.

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