For the month of January, I experimented with walking, biking, and riding the bus rather than driving everywhere. This is definitely not the happy path in 2022 Lynchburg. Here are a few things I noticed:
- When it snows, it’s a hellscape for pedestrians. There’s a law on the books that requires property owners to clear the adjacent public sidewalks, but the fine for failing to do this is $5. This is not enough for anyone to care or for the police to bother with enforcement. Probably 2% of the sidewalks were shoveled during one of our January snow/ice storms. Many times I had to walk against traffic in the road because it was preferable to walking on the icy sidewalk and slipping into the road at an unexpected time.
- GLTC bus stops are frequently a sign in the ground. There are no benches, shelters, or even concrete platforms at these stops. One of them on Lakeside Drive could not be accessed except by squeezing through a line of bushes or stepping into 40 MPH traffic.
- The connectedness of pedestrian and cycling infrastructure is an afterthought. In the Timberlake Road area, there is frequently 1/4 mile of sidewalk, then nothing for miles, then another blip of sidewalk, then nothing. Fortunately, it appears that new developments are getting robust sidewalks. I even noticed some multi-use paths for pedestrians, bikes, scooters, and such along Wards Road around Walmart, by a southern portion of Greenview Drive, and along the majority of Odd Fellows Road and Liberty Mountain Road. It would be amazing if these sections could be conected with the Blackwater Creek multi-use trail.
- People that ride GLTC buses (and the drivers too) are really nice. I suppose it helps that the bus users around here are a group that can’t afford to be in a hurry to their destination. The buses come once an hour to most stops, giving plenty of interstitial time to meet some new people and hear the local happenings.
- Blackwater Creek Trail is a beautiful and low-effort bike route from Kemper Street Station to downtown. I stupidly forgot my gloves on a sub-freezing day, and still enjoyed my ride.