Richmond Biking roundup sparked by the UCI Road World Championships held this September
While the race mostly takes place in Europe, from time to time the event has been held on other continents, in Australia, Canada, Colombia, Japan, the United States--Colorado Springs in 1986, and is scheduled for Qatar in 2016.
Going up against Quebec City, Canada, and Oman, Richmond was selected in 2011. Yes, the other candidates had dropped out by the end, but the reality was that Richmond had a fair amount of experience managing large scale bike races.
-- Richmond 2015 UCI Road World Championships, September 19th - 27th. 2015
To its credit, Richmond Times-Dispatch has covered the process and increased its coverage of biking and walking since the bid was announced, running dozens of articles, and sending a reporter to cover the 2014 races in Ponferrada, Spain, to become more familiar with the event and as a dry run. From ("How Richmond won the right to host the UCI Road World Championships":
The event is expected to draw close to half a million spectators to Richmond over nine days and attract a worldwide television audience of about 300 million.
One of the largest sporting events in the world, the world championships is a nine-day event that attracts about 1,000 athletes, media from about 35 nations and a rabid fan base from around the world. While not as large as the Olympics or World Cup, the event takes years to arrange and thousands of people to stage.
Image from the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic from VisitPhiladelphia.
As a hard core "transportational cyclist" I am not particularly attuned to bike racing other than the Tour de France.
But Crystal City (The Air Force Association Cycling Classic) sponsors a bike race every year, as does the Manayunk District of Philadelphia, where the "Wall" is famous among bicyclists.
- the city created a bike and pedestrian planner position, hiring Jakob Helmboldt, who had been the state bike and pedestrian coordinator
- and the 55-mile long Virginia Capital Trail, connecting the historic capital, Williamsburg, the original town-capital, Jamestown, and Richmond, is supposed to be completed this summer, just before the road races ("Q&A with Beth Weisbrod, executive director of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation,")
- the city has created a bike master plan
- is pursuing bike share ("Editorial: Well spoken")
- the advocacy group Bike Walk RVA was chosen as the best local advocacy group in the US for 2015 by a vote by readers of Bicycling Magazine
- installed more bike racks ("Ahead of 2015 race, Richmond to roll out 'RVA'-branded bike racks"), although now I believe that branded bike racks are a waste because the logo is obscured by parked bikes
- and after some fits and starts a prioritized bike path, the Floyd Avenue was approved earlier this year and I believe construction is underway.
Pedal to Health and an event so momentous I decided to write this entry, Virginia Credit Union is introducing a new loan program for bicycle purchases
with loan amounts from $100 to $10,000, at 8.5% interest. (Note that in the UK, they have a paycheck deduction program to assist bike purchases, which is intended for biking as transportation, but is not limited to that purpose.) And low cost accommodations convenient for bicycle tourists, a new Richmond Hostel, will open this summer.
Business owners get tips to cash in on cycling event," "Richmond 2015 talks to businesses about how to participate in UCI bicycling event," and "City looking for ways to fill vacant shops"), which is something usually forgotten in the planning and carrying out of such events, which is why the local impact from large events for small businesses tends to be minimal.
Perhaps the UCI even in Richmond will be a significant exception.
-- "Pedaling Forward: 36 ways to get Richmond's house in order before company comes in 2015"
Most of the recommendations are more about tourism and broader event issues, not so much about the biking environment. But biking-focused recommendations include:
1. Create an environment that respects bicycles.
2. Resurface the streets.
3. Many downtown streets will be closed during the races, so let's get in the habit now of parking off the street. Open up the Commonwealth of Virginia parking decks, now used by state employees on weekdays only, to the public after hours and on weekends.
23. Stage a nighttime bicycle ride, when busy daytime traffic ebbs, that winds through downtown and spotlights Richmond's historic, close-in neighborhoods. This will get folks excited about what things look like from a cyclist's viewpoint.
Competing cyclists ascend Libby Hill, Richmond, Virginia, during the U.S. Open Cycling Championship in April 2007. Photo: Scott Elmquist, Style Weekly.Many of the recommendations are coming to fruition:
33. What about those folks who won't leave their houses during the cycling event and want nothing to do with it? WCVE public television could produce a documentary on the history of cycling — taking it back to the invention of the wheel, perhaps. Does anybody have Ken Burns' contact information?
25. There's been periodic talk about establishing a youth hostel here to provide affordable lodging. Let's make it happen.Although many have not, despite the creativity of the suggestions were, such as:
32. How about a bicycling exhibition at the Valentine Richmond History Center, Virginia Historical Society, the Science Museum or the Library of Virginia? Perhaps such an exhibit at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden makes the most sense. It was in Lakeside that Lewis Ginter (1824-1897), the garden's namesake, opened a popular Wheel Club when the cycling craze first hit the United States in the 1880s.
34. If nothing else, the Capital Trail, the verdant walking and cycling route linking downtown Richmond with Williamsburg and Jamestown, must be completed. The sections that are completed are beautifully landscaped and restorative to the users. We need to get on with building the stretch through Henrico County.
and various arts related initiatives, which were suggested also.("A Summer of Cycling Brings the Art of the Race to Richmond," Style Weekly).
20. Let's sneak another capital improvement under the banner of the cycling fete. Why not make the former GRTC bus sheds (located in the upper Fan District near Byrd Park) the cycling center? Expositions, community events and concerts could be held here. Engage a developer to restore the complex and build studio apartments to house the athletes. They could be converted to general housing after the event.