Who Cares About a Bike Race?

In his column today, Richmond Times Dispatch writer, Michael Paul Williams –  a cyclist himself – discusses the recent announcement by the UCI to award the World Cycling Championships to Richmond, Virginia in 2015.

In various discussions flowing through the cycling community, some commuter and recreational cyclists who don’t really follow or care about racing have been less than excited by the Worlds announcement.  “So it’s nine days of the hammer heads riding in the City.  What’s the big deal?”

As Williams points out so well in his column, this could be the single most important event in the past half century to transform the region into one of the leading cycling-centric communities in the U.S.  And in doing so, foster all of the benefits that come with the transformation.

Perhaps the upcoming race will inspire the region to cooperate in creating a coherent network of bicycle lanes and a more hospitable climate for recreational cyclists.  Or even the establishment of “bike boulevards” to facilitate safe commuter cycling to work.  The bicycle-commuter corridors, as Portland suggests, could lure entrepreneurs.

…Virginia, blessed with every conceivable terrain and a surfeit of natural and historical landmarks, has the potential to give Portland a run as cycling heaven.  But while that city is viewed as progressive and active, we’re seen as hidebound, a valid criticism, and sleepy, a bad rap.

Mike has it absolutely right: Richmond 2015, though only a nine day event that’s four years off, will not only put Richmond and Virginia on the world stage: it could   be one of the most important events in the history Richmond.  This single event could, potentially,  transform this city like nothing has in the past fifty years.

Let’s all work together  to make sure Mike got it right.

Update: also read Tom Bowden’s article, Ride With Me Through Biketopia.

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2 comments… add one
  • Re the commuter set (and I’m one of them). Let’s look at a couple of cities the Tour of California has passed through:

    * 22% of commuters in Davis, CA get to work by bike. It’s a college town with more than your fair share of self-righteous bike commuters who likely grumbled about all of the “Lance Armstrong types” rolling through their town. In spite of heavy rain the day the race rolled through Davis in 2009, the crowds were among the more enthusiastic I’ve seen in an AToC start. Even with my press badge I could not get to the race start the crowds were so heavy.

    * Tour of California rolled through Santa Cruz in 2009 and 2010. This is a hippie town. The college mascot is the banana slug. We have “Nuclear Free Zone” signs posted at the city limits. Many unshaven bike hippies wearing hemp fabrics who turn their noses up at all things lycra assert their use of the lane. They, too, got caught up in the excitement and enthusiastically turned out in force for the festivities.

  • Richard: thanks for the comment. You are so right. Everyone gets caught up in the excitement. The shared experience can only be great for the city. A lot of people who don’t normally ride a lot will get out on their bikes, and many of them will just keep doing it.

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