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Trails and Connectivity Plan


The City is working on wrapping up its work on a Trails and Connectivity Plan.  A draft document is expected in mid-July with a tentative date for the Planning Commission in August, and then on to the City Council for final approval a few months later.  At the last Open House, the City shared a detailed draft Network Map and conceptual drawing of Separated Mulit-use Paths, on-road Buffer Bike Lanes, Bike Boulevards, etc.    The Open House material can be viewed at Chesapeake Trails and Connectivity Plan | Chesapeake, VA (cityofchesapeake.net)

But even the more modest implementation of such plans along existing rights-of-way can take many years, and sometimes decades, to become reality.  These projects almost always require years of planning, right-of-way and easement acquisition, application for grants and appropriation of substantial funding, bidding out of projects, design, and finally construction.   The Western Branch Rail to Trail project is a noteworthy example; this 2.5 mile trail was identified as a priority in 2017 (perhaps earlier); as of today, about 1 mile is constructed, a second mile is targeted to start construction this year, and the critical final 1/2 mile to connect with Suffolk is expected to complete design before the fall of 2025.

The Plan does need to include these big projects.  They represent the desired future state and we need to these plans in order to fund, design and build these projects.  But these long-term projects have do not directly help citizens who need or want to use alternative transportation methods today

I believe we also need an incremental approach where we deliver value to our citizens in the near term, e.g. within 1 to 3 years.  The Plan must address tactical projects that are relatively low cost and deliver results every year. Some of the tactical improvements to make our streets safe for pedestrians, bicyclists, and all users of our streets include:
  • Crosswalk Maintenance - repaint fading crosswalks using latest standards for high-visibility such as "zebra striping".    
  • Curb ramps at crosswalks should be properly aligned with crosswalks to allow clear passage without making bicycles - and wheelchair and other wheeled devices - have to negotiate hairpin turns.  
  • Identify existing bike routes across city - this includes existing multi-use paths (e.g. Scenic Parkway) , existing dual-use (widened) sidewalks (e.g. Volvo Parkway near Summit Point), on-road bike paths (e.g. Butts Station Road), and also low traffic side streets that can serve as route connections (e.g. Lilac Ave, Wingfield Ave, Border Road, Liberty St., Ohio St., Chesapeake Ave, Rodgers St.).  
  • Provide maps, install signage, and encourage use of these existing routes.  We have lots of existing routes that citizens do not know about.  
  • Properly maintain sidewalks to eliminate trip hazards and other obstacles 
  • Promote safety education for both automobile drivers - awareness of bicyclists, distracted driver prevention, safe passing of bicycles (change lanes, 3' law), etc. - and bicyclists - rules of the road, proper bicycle equipment and maintenance, etc.
  • Adjust traffic light optical sensor sensitivity to recognize bicyclists waiting at red lights
  • Implement bicycle green pavement markings at key intersections.

    Graphic from National Association of City Transportation Officials (nacto.org)

  • Provide bicycle racks/parking areas at all City facilities and encourage private business to install the same.
  • Identify locations that require new crosswalks, especially near bus stops and near parks, and install such crosswalks. Bus riders inevitably need to cross a major street reach the bus stop either coming or going; too often transit users need to make this street crossing where there is no crosswalk.  Likewise, achieving the goal of 10-minute walk to parks requires ways to safely cross major streets  
  • Set a goal to develop a Ride-Share Policy





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