From bike lanes to trail rides, these seven Virginia cities and towns make it easy for cyclists to ride for pleasure or with purpose.
Bike and Roll, Alexandria
The City of Alexandria was recognized in 2013 for its bike friendliness, both from the League of American Bicyclists as a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community and by Virginia Living Magazine as one of “10 Favorite Cycling Destinations.”
Bike lanes (either dedicated or shared) are available on Cameron, Prince and Pendleton Streets in Old Town as well as Commonwealth Avenue, Mt Vernon Avenue and Braddock Road in Del Ray, and designated bike lanes on King Street. Bike racks have been installed along sidewalks near many local businesses and other locations for biker convenience, like along King Street in Old Town and Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray.
Mount Vernon Bike Trail, Arlington. Photo Credit: Dayo Kosoko for @visitalexva
Alexandria also hosts the Mount Vernon Trail. This 18 mile path takes you from Rosslyn (just across the bridge from Washington, DC) to George Washington’s historic Mount Vernon. As you ride alongside the stunning Potomac River, you’ll pass views of the national monuments, parks, Old Town Alexandria and George Washington’s waterfront estate.
Arlington maintains 50 miles of off-street, multi-use trails for bicycling, walking and jogging. Portions of these trails pass through beautiful natural areas of Arlington’s park system and connect to regional bike trails. In addition to these off-street trails, Arlington has 36 miles of marked, on-street bicycle routes and 78 miles of recommended on-street routes.
Excellent dining districts can be found in Ballston, Clarendon, Crystal City and Shirlington – all of which are easily accessed by some of the off-road bike trails and the Capital Bikeshare Program (more on that in a moment!). Additionally, attractions like Arlington Cemetery, the Air Force Memorial and the Iwo Jima Memorial are all also easily bike-accessible. For more information on how easy it is to bike around Arlington, visit www.bikearlington.com.
Arlington and Alexandria also participates in the Capital Bikeshare Program which puts more than 2,500 bicycles at your fingertips. Choose a bike from more than 300 stations across Washington, D.C., Arlington and Alexandria, VA and Montgomery County, MD and return it to any station near your destination. For more information, visit www.capitalbikeshare.com.
Harrisonburg is the Shenandoah Valley’s premiere biking destination. The city was recognized as a bronze level ride center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association and a bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community. Shared Lane Markings (otherwise known as “Sharrows”) are prevalent in the downtown area and show cyclists the best place to ride on the road.
The city also offers a wide variety of cycling parks and trails which range from novice to expert experience levels.
Carytown Bicycle Co., Richmond. Photo Credit: Tony Hall
Among other accolades, Richmond has been recognized on a BuzzFeed list of “10 Cities You Should Explore on Two Wheels.”
The Connect RVA project, a plan to build 20+ miles of new family-friendly bikeways, makes Richmond one of the most bike-friendly cities in the Commonwealth. The project encompasses both shared and dedicated bike lanes through the heart of downtown and safer trails off the beaten path.
Additionally, the city is connected to Williamsburg through the Virginia Capital Trail, a 52-mile paved trail that runs alongside Route 5.
Virginia Creeper Trail in Abingdon. Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson
Abingdon is home to the Virginia Creeper Trail, a crushed gravel shared-use trail (bike, hike, equine) connecting Abingdon, VA, with the Virginia-North Carolina border 1.1 mile east of Whitetop Station, VA. The trail has been named the 2014 Hall of Fame Inductee for the Rail to Trails Conversancy, which recognizes trails with a high scenic value, high use, trail and trailside amenities and historical significance among other categories.
A Virginia Creeper Trail extension provides access for people to ride directly into Abingdon after riding the trail. It brings cyclists right into the downtown area at the Abingdon Farmers Market. Lots of restaurants in the downtown area have bicycle racks for riders’ convenience.
Abingdon has also created the Urban Path System, a public system connecting streets and pedestrian sidewalks or trail linkages to residential and public areas within the Town of Abingdon. Neighborhood streets include landscaping and traffic calming features to effectively manage traffic and encourage attractive and safe pedestrian-friendly environments.
Virginia Beach Boardwalk. Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos
A coastal Virginia city offering the perfect combination of quiet, natural shoreline rides and on-road bike accessibility, Virginia Beach currently has over 100 miles of trails including asphalt paths, nature trails and on-road bike routes.
Bike trails near the coast are available at Virginia Beach state parks such as Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, First Landing State Park, and False Cape State Park, which has been untouched by humans and is only accessible on foot, by boat, or by bike.
In addition to its rides through nature, the city also offers a Bikeways and Trails Map indicating bike accessibility throughout the cities major roads. The Virginia Beach Boardwalk also offers a way for bikers to view the beauty of the Virginia coastline, while also shopping and dining right on the waterfront.
Roanoke Valley Greenways. Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos
Roanoke offers a variety of bike-centric events throughout the year, with many taking place during National Bike Month. The mountain city was recently bestowed the honor of being the first and only IMBA Silver Level Designation on the East Coast, recognizing Virginia’s Blue Ridge region as one of the best mountain biking areas around.
Grandin Village is one of Roanoke’s most bike-accessible attractions and brings an old-school charm to its over 80 shops and restaurants. An Art by Bike route was also developed around the city, offering over 20 stops for riders to access and enjoy the city’s art on two wheels.
Do you love to bike in any other Virginia cities or towns? Leave us a comment and let us know!
Virginia is a lovely place. Yes,I would like to travel city or town by best city bikes, Richmond. Abingdon is so awesome for riding and biking, my next targeted city.
I was just pulled over and issued a summons by State Trooper on I-581 through “biker friendly Roanoke”, have traveled thousands of miles with same bike rack and bike as have many, many of my friends, never heard of such a thing, suddenly a summons…not even a warning. I live in Greensboro, NC, 100 miles away. “Rack obscuring vision of license plate” was my crime. Since then noticed nearly ALL bike racks do, and always have, to some extent, as do most trailers, handicap item carriers, all kinds of rear car attachments. Anyone incurred or heard of such a thing? If a trend this could be a “killer” to all kind of biking events and experiences for thousands if not millions of enthusiasts. Certainly anything but “bicycle friendly”……
Let me know what y’all think, I’m totally baffled, stunned, angry, and will fight this…May be YOU or your local event next… Thanks!
Yes. Like you, I had driven with a bike rack on my car for years with no problem. I passed a Fx County police car driving through Reston, the most bike friendly town in VA. He blasted off as if I’d robbed a bank. Pulled me over for the bike rack when I told him half the people in Reston have bike racks. He then said “you were speeding ( I was not) and ran a stop sign”. (I did not). I share your disappointment.Most policemen are trusted public servants but there is a renagade sprinkled in here and there. Sorry for your experience.
When you get pulled over on a bike you don’t have to show a drivers license, but regardless that ticket won’t go on your record, just pay the cash starved community their little ticket and be done with it because you won’t win in a kangaroo court that’s already out to get money from out of towners.
Yes, I live in Charlotte and I was stopped by a policewoman years ago because my plate was blocked by my bike rack.
Worst drivers ever in Richmond. Really not looking forward to moving to this “town-city”.
I live in Colonial Heights. I take my life in my own hands daily. I know one day I will bite the dust! The people here laugh at the idea of bicycle lanes and trails are simply out of the question. I have even been told to move to Holland if I want to ride a bike to work. Sometimes the future lies in the past. Cycling under 10 miles to work makes sense.
Farmville area has a great bike tral that used to be the train tracks over High Bridge. Burkeville to Prospect the trail takes you on 23 miles of bike/hiking trail.
Maybe they should distinguish between leisure, commuter, and performance cycling. A town’s attributes favor these differently.
I can’t believe Williamsburg was not one of the cities.
I work in Alexandria and commute to work each day by bike. Beautiful bike trail along the Potomac to start and end my work day, bike lanes the rest of the way. It’s safe and I see lots of other commuters and recreational riders enjoying the same routes, exploring the paths and historic neighborhoods too. Have lived in several other places–Philly, Vermont, Toronto, Connecticut, and never had so many bike lanes to ease the way. Alexandria is definitely bike friendly! But so is Charlottesville–you’re lucky to live and bike there too. Keep pedaling!
I have lived in Northern Virginia and not only are there very few bikers compared to the amount of people but it’s unsafe to bike there. I live in Charlottesville and that’s a place you see a ton of happy bikers!
Do you work for the Charlottesville chamber of commerce? lol Arlington has been recognized as a leader in developing bike infrastructure and being bike friendly. Sorry you had a bad experience. Please visit and see how much bike culture has grown and been embraced here.
I just was in Arlington yesterday and it was horrific. Maybe in town but I was off little river turnpike and it’s a disaster and I saw no bikes AT ALL.
Michelle – Little River Turnpike is in Fairfax County — not Arlington County.