The Coastal Virginia city of Norfolk is battling the rising cost of fuel by encouraging alternative transportation methods that enable locals and tourists to get around town without breaking the bank. The downtown area is paving the way for other small cities throughout the country, making the district easily manageable sans car, with the debut of a new Light Rail system, strategically placed bike racks that double as public art displays, free downtown shuttles, and the growing trend of Segway tours.
President of VisitNorfolk Anthony DiFillipo said, “The City of Norfolk has worked hard to make transportation in the downtown area more visible and easy to maneuver than ever before. Not only does the system cut down on gas emissions, but the variety of options allows individuals to tailor transportation to suit their lifestyle. Whether you want to bike to work, read on the train on the way to a minor league baseball game, or sightsee on a modern vehicle, it’s all doable in Norfolk”
Ways to get around Downtown Norfolk include:
Ride the Tide. Downtown Norfolk officially launched its first Light Rail system known as ‘The Tide Light Rail’ on August 19, 2011, with free rides for the first three days, followed by a $1.50 fee onward. The project takes commuters from Fort Norfolk Station, near the historic Ghent district, to the Newtown Road Park & Ride Station at the Norfolk / Virginia Beach city line, making stops near the Chrysler Museum of Art, The MacArthur Memorial, and Harbor Park Baseball Stadium. The light rail operates daily. For more information, visit www.ridethetide.com.
Public Artwork Doubles as Bike Racks. As part of a Downtown Norfolk Council public art display project, the city debuted five bike racks throughout prominent areas in the downtown district on June 22, 2011, which serves a dual purpose. The racks designed by local artists are part of an initiative to encourage biking as a means of transportation, while continuing in the tradition of public artwork. The newest downtown bike racks include “The Fork” at Flat Iron Park, ”Frankenstein Rack” at Tidewater Community College Student Center, “Cycle Siren” at City Hall Avenue, “You Lock U Locks” at the MacArthur Light Rail Station, and “The Buoy” at TowneBank Fountain Park.
F.R.E.D. Free Ride Every Day. A successful Downtown Norfolk Council project that launched in October 2009, ‘Free Ride Every Day’ known as F.R.E.D., is an eco-friendly vehicle operated with battery power and a solar roof. The no-cost transportation service is available on demand for up to five people by calling (757) 478-7233. F.R.E.D operates in downtown Norfolk daily, Monday – Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The service is perfect for patrons of the many year-round downtown festivals, disabled persons, and families with small children.
Catch the NET. The Norfolk Electric Transit (NET) is a commuting service provided by the City of Norfolk, and operated on an eco-friendly platform through Hampton Roads Transit. The air-conditioned bus holds twenty two passengers, and is an ideal system for residents, tourists, shoppers and commuters hoping to bypass driving in downtown. The NET operates in downtown Norfolk daily, and will begin a new route on August 19 to complement The Tide Light Rail schedule.