Bicycling into Charlottesville, VA
June 13, 2007 3:56 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend me a reasonably bicycle-friendly route into Charlottesville, VA coming from the west (from Lexington, to be precise)? I don't mind sharing a road with traffic - I ride Route 11 frequently and happily - but as much as possible, I would like to avoid getting mixed in with dense commercial traffic.
posted by Wolfdog to Travel & Transportation around Charlottesville, VA (8 answers total)
Heh. For a crunchy college town with generally pretty good city planning, Charlottesville is surprisingly hard to get into by bike.
"There are probably only half a dozen access routes into the inner city, but they have almost no sidewalks, and no buffers between cars and other travelers," says Rowe.
Looking at the further-out approach routes to the city: Route 250 is not that bad, since the heavier traffic tends to stay on I-64 (the two run parallel). From Lexington, though, I wonder if you'd rather cross the mountains first and come up Route 29 which, as I recall, is also not too heavily trafficked (south of the city). If you're not arriving in the midst of the morning rush, I imagine you would be all right.

Upon further map-study, I wonder whether Rte. 151 up to the Goodloe Bridge Rd (635) or Dick Woods Rd (636) would be a good alternative. 151 roughly parallels 29 but is less of a major traffic route.

Disclaimers: I am not currently a bicyclist nor a daily user of these routes.
posted by Orinda at 4:31 PM on June 13, 2007

My current bare-bones plan is simply 11-340-250, and I considered 60-29 (dear God is Rt 60 in Amherst county ever boring), but my vague recollections of C'ville are that both of those would get kind of dicey in the homestretch coming into town. Deep in my heart I'm hoping for the super-secret, mystical, Mines-of-Moria type back door but I'll take what I can get.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:41 PM on June 13, 2007

Not familiar with the area, but this looks for a job for Bike Metro.
posted by nakedsushi at 4:59 PM on June 13, 2007

Ah, I see. I was thinking further out.

Unfortunately, like the article says, the routes into the city really are limited. Things like golf courses, train tracks, and the interstate or bypass cut you off right where you want there to be a quiet alternative to the main road. Coming from the west or south you're pretty much forced, sooner or later, onto either (going counterclockwise around the map) Barracks Rd, 250, 29/Fontaine, Fifth St, or Rte 20/Monticello Ave, all of which get thick with traffic as you come into town.

The one alternative I can spot on the map, though I'm not very familiar with it on the ground, would be Old Lynchburg Rd (631) which connects you with Jefferson Park Avenue (approach to the university area) in town. Again, I'm not familiar with this on the ground, but it looks like you could take 29 as far as Covesville, then split off onto 633, which takes you to 631, which becomes Old Lynchburg Rd. I think Old Lynchburg Rd is relatively quiet, but the piece of it that I do know (closest to town) is narrow, with no hard shoulders (that I recall).

p.s. Goof in previous post: Dick Woods Rd is 637, not 636 (I think 636 is Plank Rd to Batesville).
posted by Orinda at 5:21 PM on June 13, 2007

OK, on further thought . . .

If the distinction about "commercial traffic" is important to you, you might try this: from 250, turn north onto one of the little roads that would connect you to Garth Road (676, 678), then take Garth Road/Barracks Rd into town. Garth/Barracks is mostly residential and farms; it doesn't have as much commercial build-up as 250/Ivy Rd, and in theory it should not have as much truck traffic. Still, that last half mile or so of the corridor into town does get some crazy (by local standards) traffic. And you should be warned that some people drive really fast on Garth/Barracks despite its hills and curves.
posted by Orinda at 6:16 PM on June 13, 2007

Taking Owensville Road (676? I think - I can never remember the numbers) to Garth is definitely more scenic and less commercial. Garth Rd. seems quite popular with bicyclists. Not sure if the extra distance is worth it - I wouldn't think that last stretch of 250 would be any hairier that sections further out.

I am definitely not a cyclist, though! Just someone who used to drive around there a lot.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:26 PM on June 13, 2007

The straightest shot is 250 but it can be dicey at times (morning & afternoon 'rush' hours mainly) but is completely doable if you're already comfortable riding with traffic. I've ridden out 250 from Cville to Afton and back many times without problems.

If you're looking for a more scenic, lower traffic route, there are definitely alternatives but they will all add to the length of your trip.

If it was me, I'd take 250 down the east side of Afton to Route 6 which will then drop you down to Route 151. You can then cross over 151 onto Avon Road and work your way over to Batesville via Batesville Road/Craigs Store Road before turning on to Miller School Road in downtown Batesville. From there you can follow Dick Woods Road to Bloomfield which will then put you back out on 250 just outside of Charlottesville.

I ride in and around Charlottesville on an almost daily basis (commuting from Free Union to Downtown every day) so if you want more alternate routes, just ask.
posted by mallfellow at 5:02 AM on June 14, 2007

Thanks for the info, guys. I did just come in on 250 (11-657-340-250, to be precise) and it was far less hassle than I expected. It was, in fact, a very pleasant ride, and crossing the ridge on 250 is a stroll in the park - a little speed bump - compared to going over 60 or 56.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:37 PM on June 16, 2007

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