ROANOKE, Va. – If you’re on the Roanoke River Greenway, you soon may notice something new.
The city is painting a center line down the middle of the busiest stretch of the greenway to help users avoid accidents, and they’re using federal grant money to do it.
These days most people don’t need many excuses to get outside and enjoy the greenway. Gordon Saylors went for a run Friday night and was thankful to enjoy the mild December night with some space to spread out.
“I just recently started coming back out a few times a week to get in some running, but over the summer...when I was here, it was a bit packed,” Saylors said.
Usage on the Roanoke River Greenway spiked 200% during the pandemic and it brought an issue that’s been brewing for years to a head. Stephanie Long with PLAY Roanoke said they refer to the tension between cyclists flying by others, and walkers spreading four wide taking up the entire path as “passion.”
“I know, why is four inches so important? It’s a really big deal because this is actually one of our most requested, you can call improvements or changes,” Long said.
In an effort to help cyclists, runners, and everyone in between stay safe, they’re painting a four inch wide center line encouraging people to stay on their side of the path. It’ll run from Vic Thomas Park near Black Dog Salvage to Piedmont Park just past the Walnut Bridge. Long said it’s by and far the most popular stretch of not only the Roanoke River Greenway, but all the greenways in the valley.
Earlier this year PLAY Roanoke launched a campaign encouraging users to be mindful of others and to share the path using tongue in cheek signs and social media advertising.
“It really is kind of the bread and butter of Roanoke. We’ve branded ourselves as this outdoor community and the greenway is a big part of that,” Long said.
Sarah Karpnaty was on a bike ride Friday night and took notice of the center line striping. She said she’s glad to see it, and at just a cost of $16,000 paid for with CARES Act funding, she said it’s well worth it.
“I think the centerline is a good idea, it will just remind people to follow the rules of the road,” Karpanty said. “I know some people that have had accidents out here even despite best intentions that cost probably a lot more than $15,000 in medical bills so I think it’s a great idea.”
The City of Roanoke has reached a tentative agreement to get the Walker Foundry property that will finish the missing link in the greenway from Salem to Roanoke. Long had no other details to share with 10 News about what that will look like.