Virginia Capital Trail has been a success so far, what’s next?

Trail connection to the Virginia Capital Trail from Dorey Park.The Virginia Capital Trail may have taken a couple of decades of planning and construction, but by all measures, it has been a success so far.

“The trailside counters are on a pace that put first-year usage of the trail above 550,000, with daily averages for both cyclists and pedestrians continuing to trend upward,” wrote Beth Weisbrod, the executive director of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation, in an Op/Ed column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

She pointed to the many new cycling-related businesses sprouting up along the trail. New cyclists getting out for a ride. Runners and walkers with a new place to exercise. New tourism opportunities. An improvement in the quality of life for many people who live along the corridor between Richmond and Jamestown/Williamsburg.

The 52-mile success story is just beginning. In the past year, the Virginia Capital Trail has transformed how people think of separated multi-use trails. Largely considered an amenity for the cycling elite only a year ago, it now bursts with young and old, athletes and non-athletes, history buffs and bird watchers, locals and non-locals. Our region has an incredible opportunity to guide more private investment into this public amenity and implement strategies for success, to the vast benefit of our communities.

Henrico County is invigorated. They’ve developed a spur trail connection to Dorey Park and is working on another trail head in Varina. We need to encourage and support more developments in that corridor and beyond.

Thanks to the Virginia Department of Transportation for their work in constructing and maintaining the trail. I wrote in May that it costs about $300,000 annually to maintain the trail, which is expected to increase in the future for trail resurfacing and other repairs.

What’s next? We need to keep growing the trail. More spur trails that connect to the Virginia Capital Trail. More multi-use trails like it around Richmond. Let’s connect Petersburg to Chesterfield County, to Richmond, to Henrico, Hanover and Ashland. Let’s continue the momentum we’ve built from this beautiful trail.

Want more information on the Virginia Capital Trail? I’ve ridden the trail several times now — even a couple of times for work:

And I’ve got my favorite place to stop for food — Ronnie’s BBQ.

Don’t think you’ve got what it takes to ride all the way to Jamestown? Certain members of the Richmond media have given it a shot, read a couple of these rookie accounts:

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