ANNUAL MANUAL: Our Town- Transportation
New to Virginia?
Within 60 days of arrival, you must apply for a Virginia driver's license and register your vehicle through the DMV (800-435-5137) located at 2055 Abbey Road near State Farm on Pantops. Immediately after registering your vehicle in Virginia, you must obtain a state safety inspection from any private garage offering the regulated service– it usually costs $15 for cars and $12 for motorcycles, unless there's something wrong, and then you have to pay for repairs.
Virginia's Wacky Rules of the Road
Here are some state laws you may or may not have heard of:
Keep frontin': Virginia automobiles must have both front and rear license plates.
No radar love: Unlike the other 49 states, Virginia bans the use of radar detectors.
Don't pimp my ride: Tinting your windows too dark is strictly forbidden, as are neon lights and undercarriage glow.
Yak attack: If you're under 18, you aren't allowed to use a cellphone while driving, including texting or hands-free talking.
Walk this way: Pedestrians– even lollygagging UVA students– always have the right-of-way.
Light rain: If your windshield wipers are on, your lights must be on.
I can't drive 75: Virginia highways are slower than most: 65mph is the maximum speed limit in the state.
Virginia is for embarrassed kids: All children under age eight– that's right, eight– must be properly secured in a child safety seat or booster seat.
Not-so-civil fee: In order to pay for roads without raising taxes, Virginia has enacted a controversial new law charging commonwealth residents with "remedial civil fees" in addition to the original ticket fine for certain traffic offenses: an additional $750 for driving on a suspended license, and additional $1050 for reckless driving (speeding 20mph over the limit), and additional $2250 for DUIs and related offenses. Any other misdemeanor will set you back an extra $900, and any vehicular felony will cost an additional $3000. (Look for a fierce court challenge the first time this fine is levied.)
We have two separate bus systems: one for UVA students and employees and one for the rest of us.
UTS- Rides, which are free, are intended for students, faculty, etc., but drivers don't typically check IDs. 924-7711
CTS- Regular fare is 75 cents (children 5 and under ride free), but you can buy a book of 40 tickets for $21, 10 tickets for $6, and a special unlimited-use Day Pass for $2– available at the local visitor centers. The elderly ride for 35 cents. The service has 16 routes and welcomes bicycle riders by offering bike racks on all buses. 296-RIDE.
The best central city free ride is the CTS free trolley which looks like a San Francisco cable car but travels on rubber tires between The Corner, JPA, and Downtown every 15 minutes from 6:30am until midnight every day except Sunday.
For inter-city bus transportation– Greyhound, as well as trains and planes– we have more information on our travel page.
Census data recently revealed that Charlottesville, with 16.5 percent, is second only to Lexington– with a whopping 26 percent– among Virginia cities in the proportion of commuters who walk to work. In addition, the pedestrian-friendly Downtown Mall was cited in early 2002 by the Pew Partnership as a "Solution for America."
COMMUTING BY BIKE
Charlottesville and Albemarle have made great strides in increasing the number of bike routes. The Charlottesville-Albemarle Bicycling Association has a nice map showing the routes as well as a handy explanation of bikers' rights to use the full traffic lane when needed. BEWARE: Riding a bike on the Downtown Mall is punishable by a fine. In Virginia, bicycles must follow the same laws as motor vehicles, including riding on the right side of the street, obeying all traffic signs and signals, yielding to pedestrians, and using signals for turning and stopping. At night, bicycles must have a white front light visible for 500 feet and either a red rear-reflector visible for 200 feet or a red tail light visible for 500 feet.
Free-use community bikes
Through a novel program administered by the City and funded with private resources, about 80 bright yellow bikes were placed on City streets in March 2002. Within a few weeks, pretty much all of them had disappeared. In response, the city has inaugurated a "community bike" program, similar to the first but with a twist: the bikes (not painted yellow) are still free, but if you want one you have to work in the Charlottesville Community Bike Shop.
Thanks to the area's long history, many roads have different names along a single path, usually changing as a city street moves into the county and becomes a road. Here's a handy tip-sheet:
Emmet Street=Seminole Trail=Route 29
Park Street=Rio Road (pronounced "RYE-oh")
Ivy Road=University Avenue=Main Street=Downtown Mall
Avon Street=9th Street
Garth Road=Barracks Road=Preston Avenue=Market Street
Fifth Street=Ridge Street=McIntire Road
Road rules- local licensing
Owners of vehicles garaged in the City of Charlottesville are no longer required to display decals, and police are in fact fining those who still display them. Albemarle County (296-5851) does require a decal, and while you still must pay the tax annually in both locales, you need only one actual decal in the County for as long as you own your vehicle.
Average commute time: 17 minutes (national average is 26)
Number of folks working at home: 5.4 percent (national average is 3.3 percent)
Things get busy around here during traditional rush hours– not to mention around noontimes when roads and streets also clog pretty heavily. Companies that engage in RideShare programs like car pools and van pools can get juicy tax deductions. 295-6165
To save room for residents, some neighborhoods near downtown and UVA require $25 per year parking permits. You'll know because you'll see the street signs. The permits, which expire August 31, are available through the City Treasurer's Office. 970-3146
It's not very eco-friendly or gasoline-budget friendly, but you may want to join the throng who take advantage of the much lower housing costs in Augusta County. According to figures from the Federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, the number of commuters from Staunton and Waynesboro to Charlottesville and Albemarle skyrocketed from 799 in 1970 to 2,167 in 2000 according to the U.S. Census, and real estate agents report the number of Albemarle residents moving over Afton Mountain continues to swell!