Congratulations to Richmond, Va. for winning the 2015 World Cycling Championships – Tim Miller and the team down there did a fantastic job to persuade international cycling’s ruling body, the UCI, to bring their premier event to the historic capital of Virginia. And now the hard work really begins for the entire cycling community in Richmond and beyond!
Four years from now, the eyes of the international cycling community and, to some extent, the world’s media, will be on Richmond. Hundreds of top riders from around the globe will descend on the region for not just the week of the championships but for weeks, months and even years in advance as preparations are made and training is completed. They will bring with them thousands of fans, spectators, team support, sponsors, media – and a lot of them are going to be riding the courses and checking out the Richmond area by bike. If the event took place today, I’m not sure the cycling world would be that impressed! Richmond certainly isn’t Copenhagen, which is where this year’s event is just wrapping up (Go Wiggo and Cav!).
Richmond has got four years to get its cycling act together! Fortunately, the city has a new bike plan underway, a newly hired bike coordinator, and a supportive Mayor and city council. The timeline is tight, but Richmond has a unique opportunity to put itself permanently on the map as a great cycling city – as a destination and a more livable and sustainable city – by using the excitement and urgency of the world championships coming to town. The local cycling community has always been active, and as the state capital Richmond is home to the Virginia Bicycling Federation and Bike Walk Virginia who cover the advocacy, education, and encouragement side of things really well; but this requires a whole new level of action and commitment from local cyclists, businesses and the local bike industry.
Just two hours away, I am sure that we’ll be doing what we can to help. The Bicycle Friendly Community and Bicycle Friendly Business programs are ideal blueprints for Richmond to follow (in our opinion, of course), and there’s a vibrant college scene that could make good use of the Bicycle Friendly University game plan. So, Richmond, Game On! Make us all proud.
Andy Clarke was appointed to the position of Executive Director in April of 2004 after successfully leading efforts to create, interpret and implement the various transportation programs that are available to improve conditions for bicycling and walking as the League’s State and Local Advocacy Director. Before joining the League in February 2003, Clarke was on contract to provide technical assistance to the highly regarded Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center on site at the Federal Highway Administration. He is on the Board of Directors for America Bikes, and a member of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycling Professionals.