A good time for a bike

Published 9:23 pm Thursday, February 9, 2017

Options for off-street biking or walking around Suffolk have always been limited. But Suffolk officials are working to improve the situation for enjoying an afternoon stroll or a morning ride.

The city’s parks and recreation department recently opened a new, 1.1-mile segment of the Seaboard Coastline Trail, which eventually will cross 11.1 miles of the city, connecting downtown Suffolk to the Chesapeake border.

In fact, the 10-foot wide multi-use path could ultimately connect downtown Suffolk to the Virginia Beach waterfront, giving non-motorized traffic an unimpeded (and un-tolled) way to the beach.

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Completion of the path will not be cheap, though. Officials say the costs run from $700,000 to $1 million a mile for construction, depending on the amenities that are offered along the way. Amenities on the Driver end of the existing trail, for instance, include parking, a bicycle service station, maps and a pet waste station.

The next portion of the Suffolk portion of the trail, about 1.3 miles, will stretch it to Nansemond River High School. A 2.5-mile segment in Chesapeake’s nearby Western Branch community has had gravel laid but it still unpaved and unfinished.

These are all good signs, as Suffolk and the rest of Hampton Roads will all benefit from better access to safe biking and walking trails.

Another good sign is Suffolk’s announcement on Thursday that it is looking for public input on its first Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, funded by the Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment. A survey is available on the city’s website, at www.suffolkva.us, and a community meeting has been set for 6:30 p.m. March 7 at City Hall, where citizens will have a chance to review project maps and exhibits related to plans for “non-motorized travelers” in the downtown and North Suffolk areas.

It’s a good time to have a bicycle in Suffolk.