Richmond’s Transportation Future: We Need a Bit More Ambition

9 Apr

In the next week there will be not one but two opportunities to think and ask big questions about the future of transportation in Richmond.  As noted in my last post, the city recently announced the final opportunity for public input on Richmond Connects, the city’s soon-to-be finalized multimodal transportation plan.  That meeting is this Thursday, April 11, 5:30-7:30 p.m., in the VDOT auditorium, 1221 East Broad Street.

I’ve begun reading over the plan, particularly the bicycle and pedestrian projects it recommends.  You can get to the draft plan at the above link: pages 59 and 60 include a list of the highest priority projects.  By my reading there are three new projects listed that would produce the kind of infrastructure that would get the more fearful among us onto bikes for getting around the city: 1) cycle tracks (bike lanes separated by a curb or other barrier) through downtown; 2) a bicycle boulevard on Floyd through the Fan; 3) and a buffered bike lane on the Leigh Street/MLK Bridge.  Everything else recommended is “on street bike lane or sharrows.”

As thrilled as I am to see the 3 projects above, I can’t help but ask, “Is that it???”  They are a good start, but just that: a start.  This is meant to be a long term plan.  To be sure, there are places where a cycle track or something of the kind may not be feasible.  But if the city really thinks that these three projects plus more sharrows and regular bike lanes is going to significantly increase the number of cyclists, they are dreaming.  Actual lanes are better than sharrows, but especially on busy streets, that large percentage of the population who according to surveys say they’d like to bike more but are fearful, are not going to take the leap in large numbers.

I don’t expect Richmond to immediately become Copenhagen in only a few years, but I would like to see at least a few more proposals that go beyond lanes and sharrows.  Cycling poster child Portland, Oregon got to about 8% mode share for bicycling with an extensive network of mainly bike lanes; the top bicycling cities in the world are over 50%.  They didn’t get there with sharrows and painted lanes.  So what has Portland starting doing?  Creating more protected lanes.  Even taking into account Richmond’s conservative, go-slow approach to things, I think we can do better than the three projects above.  If you agree — or have other input or thoughts about the plan, please share them at the meeting or via the web site above.

It’s unfortunate that it’s not happening prior to the above public input session, but I wanted to share another event called Transportation Transformations for Richmond coming up next week sponsored by the Richmond area chapter of Partnership for Smarter Growth.  Here is a link to the Eventbrite invitation (registration is required but free), and below is the blurb:

You will never look at transportation the same after you hear Jeffrey Tumlin of Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates!  Jeffrey is the lead-off speaker in the Partnership for Smarter Growth’s 2013 forums program, Transportation Transformations for a Competitive and Sustainable Future.

Parking trouble in the Fan? Wondering how there can be so many parking garages downtown but you can never find a space? Wondering why our bus service isn’t working and dreaming of modern rapid transit?  Want to turn our strip corridors into beautiful boulevards? Well then Jeffrey’s the expert you will want to hear.  He will offer a range of creative ideas and examples applicable to Richmond’s needs.  We’ll have a robust question and answer period following his presentation.

Jeffrey is the author of Sustainable Transportation Planning: Tools for Creating Vibrant, Healthy, and Resilient Communities and we’ll have his book for sale and available for signing.


One Response to “Richmond’s Transportation Future: We Need a Bit More Ambition”


  1. Expand the Plan | Bikeable Richmond - May 3, 2013

    […] should make one correction to the previous post, however: I stated that the plan includes two cycle tracks (bike lanes separated from traffic) and […]

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