What We Learned on the Richmond Bay Trail

This October, Bike East Bay organized three outreach days along the Bay Trail. 

The goal was two-fold: On the one hand, we wanted to gain a better understanding of who was using the trail, how they were using the trail and what their overall experience was like. 

On the second hand, we also wanted to give people an opportunity to talk about issues along the trail and what improvements were needed. Residents of the Marina Bay neighborhood have brought up concerns in conversations with the BPAC and in online forums and we wanted to create an active and friendly venue for more discussion.

Before heading out we created a short guide to proper trail etiquette to print out and hand out. 

The result? Three days basking in the beauty of the Bay Trail and having great conversations with active folks! 

On the first evening, we set up from 5pm to 7pm to catch commuters on their way home. Patrick Phelan, city staff liaison to the BPAC, joined us and conducted some informal bike and ped counts for an hour, which we repeated at a later date. Here are the results: 




Location Bay Trail split by Bayside Drive Marina Park Marina Park
Date Wednesday Oct 7 Sunday Oct 25 Sunday Oct 25
Time 5:15 - 6:15pm 3:15 - 4:15pm 4:15 - 5:15pm
Bikes 67 60 39
Pedestrians 44 53 63
Dogs n/a 11 7

 

We were out on a third day on Thursday October 17 during commute hours. 

The people who stopped and talked with us were all very appreciative of the Bay Trail, and for the most part reported no issues riding or walking along it. Upon probing, there were many small frustrations - directed at all types of trails users. It turns out, no one is perfect. Whether it was blocking the trail, going too fast, wearing headphones, or having dogs off leash, the consenus was that it was important for everyone to stay alert and aware of their surroundings and conscious of other peoples needs on the trail.

We were glad to be able to be out there to talk with people about this great community resource and field questions about trail usage, appropriate behavior, and what we can all do to better share the Bay Trail. 

What’s next? 

The two most popular suggestions to solving cohabitation issues were striping along the path and better signage. 

The Bay Trail is not wide enough to include seperate space for bicyclists and pedestrians, but a single line down the middle could help serve as a visual reminder of the flow of traffic. 

Most users agreed that more of the same signage would not suffice. Our suggestion: work with the City of Richmond to develop a campaign. The imagery developped in the campaign should be aimed at all types of trail users and should not be punitive. It would be used in a guide to trail usage as well as in signage along the trail. Examples can be pulled from Atlanta Beltline’s Charm Campaign signs and other successful campaigns. 

Finally, we reached out to the police department to join us on the Bay Trail on our outreach days. Although we did not hear back, an officer attending a BPAC meeting in September did say that bike patrols will be sent to the Bay Trail. We asked that the bike patrol not take a punitive approach to their enforcement on the Bay Trail. If you see a bike patrol on the Bay Trail, let us know how things were going: cynthia@bikeeastbay.org.

To learn more about the Bay Trail, visit baytrail.org.

To get involved in expanding the Bay Trail in Richmond, check out Trails for Richmond Action Committee (or TRAC)