Beyond the Region: North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Metropolitan Branch Trail in Washington, D.C. | Photo: Geoff Alexander | Flickr

Beyond the Region is a sporadically-published edition of MTR, which will document the transportation-related components of TSTC staff members’ travels. Over Memorial Day weekend, TSTC South Jersey Coordinator Dana Dobson headed south to check out Washington D.C., Winston-Salem and Greensboro, NC, and Virginia Beach and Richmond, VA.

This past Memorial Day weekend, we headed south on Interstate 95, stopping first in Washington, D.C. During this first stopover, we checked out Brookland, a neighborhood adjacent to the Catholic University of America and served by the Brookland-CUA Metro station. This station is part of transit-oriented district and also serves as a trailhead for the eight-mile Metropolitan Branch Trail.

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Brookland Metro Station, Washington D.C. | Photo: Dana Dobson

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Virginia Beach Oceanfront Bike Path, Virginia Beach, VA | Photo: Dana Dobson

After spending the day in D.C., we moved on to Virginia Beach. We biked along the Oceanfront Bike Path, which runs parallel to the boardwalk, a popular place for beach-goers to stroll.

Following Virginia, we made our way to Winston-Salem in North Carolina. Downtown Winston-Salem is quite walkable and has a thriving arts district. The city doesn’t see very many everyday bicycling commuters, although it is actively working to improve its bicycle facilities, greenway and trail systems. While we were there, however, the city was full of cyclists who were in town for the Winston Salem Cycling Classic.

From Winston-Salem, we headed east to Greensboro, where we spent time downtown, walked along the Elm Street corridor and enjoyed Center City Park. Elm Street, located in Greensboro’s historical downtown core, is a great place to walk around and is near the Greensboro Amtrak station and Greyhound Bus Depot.

Painted alley connecting to Elm Street, Greensboro, NC | Photo: Dana Dobson

Painted alley connecting to Elm Street, Greensboro, NC | Photo: Dana Dobson

Finally, we ended in Richmond, Virginia. We checked out Carytown, our favorite neighborhood downtown. Cary Street, a main corridor in the district, was recently upgraded with many pedestrian improvements, like brick crosswalks and landscaped curb extensions.

By creating spaces that are appealing and safe to walk or bike, these cities have made it easier for residents and visitors to park the car and opt for more active means. And their main streets appear to be reaping the benefits associated with multimodal streets. Even some of the minor enhancements we saw, like creative street paintings, pedestrian and green spaces, improved lighting and dedicated bike amenities, can create places where people bike, walk and explore. These ideas are easily replicable, and similar projects have already appeared in places like Collingswood and Hoboken.

Image: Google Maps

Carytown, Richmond, VA | Image: Google Maps

2 Comments on "Beyond the Region: North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C."

  1. Clark Morris | June 29, 2016 at 5:19 pm |

    I think you meant Interstate 95. I note the author used the automobile rather than Amtrak and/or the bus.

  2. Jake Thompson | July 1, 2016 at 9:55 am |

    Clark, I agree that Amtrak would have been ideal. It would have been perfect if Amtrak ran frequently and affordably between these places, but unfortunately that’s not the case. The relatives we were visiting live in a suburban area of North Carolina, completely lacking in public transportation, so the car was necessary. It would have been impossible to stop in multiple cities on the way in one day going by Amtrak or bus schedules, and we likely would have never visited places like Virginia Beach and Greensboro, both of which are working on their own projects to improve sustainable transportation. After parking in each city, we walked, biked, or used the DC Metro to get around.

    If it helps, the driver (me) has a fuel-efficient car that never had less than two occupants during this trip, and also happens to be a transportation planner working on multimodal projects. The author of this blog post is car-free nearly every day of her life and works hard to advocate for sustainable transportation. I think we at least broke even, so surely you can forgive us.

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