For many people, the Hampton Roads transportation system is known for its bridges and tunnels but not for bicycle and pedestrian paths, at least not yet. Staff at the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization (HRTPO) is conducting several multimodal mobility studies under the current fiscal year’s Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP), one of which analyzes the benefits of building multi-use signature paths in Hampton Roads. For this study, HRTPO staff defined signature paths as named, off-road, highly-used bicycle and pedestrian paths. Examples include the Monon Trail (Indianapolis, IN), the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway (Boston, MA), and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail (Northern VA). From initial research of existing signature paths, staff found common characteristics including: 1) they are located where many people live and/or work, or 2) they are located near a popular destination.
To gain guidance for the study, HRTPO staff held a kickoff meeting with local stakeholders on September 2, 2015. Comments and feedback received included creating an inventory of existing bicycle and pedestrian facilities, researching the role of signature paths in systems of paths/trails and public transit, and possible signature paths in Hampton Roads.
Based on these comments and research of existing signature paths, this study will focus on rail-to-trail paths: abandoned railroad right-of-ways converted to multi-use paths. Since the kickoff meeting, HRTPO staff has been developing a multi-layered map to find the best location for signature paths in Hampton Roads, including socioeconomic data, destinations, and existing and potential usage. As next steps, staff plans to update the stakeholders of the recent work and findings at the November 4 Transportation Technical Advisory Committee (TTAC).