Archive | September, 2013

Will Richmond be the 29th U.S. City with Protected Bike Lanes?

21 Sep

As noted in my previous post, the city’s Land Use and Transportation Subcommittee met earlier this week to discuss resolutions that will allow Richmond to use local and (mostly) federal funds to build separated bicycle lanes or “cycle tracks” on Franklin and Main Streets downtown.  Those resolutions made it through committee and are now up for discussion at Monday’s full city council meeting (9/23 at 6 p.m.).

Bike Walk RVA and the Greater Richmond Bicycling Coalition are organizing folks to come and speak in favor of the resolutions at the meeting:

Can you join your friends at Bike Walk RVA and the Greater Richmond Bicycle Coalition in testifying in support of funding these projects?

Please RSVP here so we know how many people to expect >>

Completion of these projects is essential to building a bike-friendly RVA. Council needs to know that all eyes will be on Richmond in 2015 for the World Road Cycling Championships, and we want to show the world we care about making sure people can get around our great city by foot and by bike in a safe and comfortable manner. This is the future of transportation in our city and it’s time to start planning, funding, and building the new Richmond.

Thanks for making Richmond a safe and comfortable place to walk and bike.

Max Hepp-Buchanan
Director of Bike Walk RVA
Sports Backers

P.S. Your voice is louder in person, but if you can’t make the Council hearing on Sept. 23, write Council an email in support of these projects.

As the tag line for this post suggests, protected bike lanes are no longer a rare thing in U.S. cities.  The list from People For Bikes of 28 cities that have installed such lanes includes cities you might expect like Portland and Seattle, but also cities like Champaign, IL; Indianapolis, IN; Milwaukee, WI; and Syracuse, NY, not to mention a few smaller ones I’ve never heard of!

Two Important Projects Up for Discussion Today

17 Sep

From Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of BikeWalk RVA:

The Richmond City Council transportation committee is meeting today to discuss the potential use of federal Transportation Alternatives funding to pay for two really important bike/ped projects: 1) the downtown protected bike lane (aka “cycle track”) couplet on Main and Franklin, and 2) the Cannon Creek Greenway Connector project. They are meeting at 3pm and we have an opportunity right now to shower them with love for these two projects.

I’ve created an action page where people can quickly and easily write the members of the transportation committee in support of these projects: http://bit.ly/1516HSA

Please consider sending the provided message or your own before 1 p.m. today (the committee meets at 3 p.m.).  It’s important for council representatives to know that we are aware of these projects and support them.

The cycle tracks will provide separated bicycle lanes in downtown east of Belividere on Franklin (eastbound) and Main (westbound), and a blend of facilities to connect the Cannon Creek Greenway to Shockoe Bottom via Oliver Hill Way.  These are projects (along with the Floyd bicycle boulevard) that the city is trying to complete before the championships come to town in 2015.

Cool Tools

14 Sep
Streetmix.  Image from popupcity.net.

Streetmix. Image from popupcity.net.

Over the last few weeks I’ve stumbled onto some cool bicycling tools (in some cases thanks to friends who brought my attention to them).  But not the kind of tool you use to tighten or remove a part on your bicycle.  Rather, they allow you, and maybe your local officials, to look at streets in a different — bicycle-focused — way.

(Re)Design Your Dream Street

The first is an online tool called Streetmix.  Developed by members of Code for America, Streetmix allows you to design your own street — or redesign an existing one — just by dragging and dropping sidewalks, bike lanes, and car lanes onto a visual matrix.  Unfortunately it does not include dimensions for existing streets (it would be an enormous job to collect all of that data for all American cities), but if you can measure it yourself or get the data from your city government, you can then play around visually with the various elements of the streetscape.

I can envision this being a great tool for bicycle and pedestrian advocates trying to make the case for a different use of street space when, for example, a street like Forest Hill Avenue is up for significant reconstruction, or when a new one is proposed.  It could also help when a street is being repaved and restriped — to determine whether there might be room for a bike lane after all, for example.

Rate a Street

Another tool that sounds less fun but goes well with Streetmix is the Bicycle and Pedestrian Level of Service Calculator.  Level of Service is a term used by traffic engineers to rate how well a street performs in terms of safety and traffic flow.  The problem is that a street can score very highly on level of service but be very unfriendly to other users like pedestrians and bicyclists.

In other words, the way streets are usually evaluated by engineers focuses only on one set of users — motorists.  The Bicycle and Pedestrian Level of Service Calculator gives us a way of rating streets according to others users’ needs.  It’s not that every single street has to be optimized for every kind of user.  But many streets — think of Parham Road, for example — reflect the notion that only one set of users matter.  The calculator described here can help correct for that bias.

Big Girls Ride Too

13 Sep

From J. Elay Boutique’s tumblr page:

Let’s get together for a bike ride!! In RVA, Byrd Park (behind the Roundhouse in the vicinity of Swan Lake Dr) 1pm this Saturday September 14, 2013! Richmond, Va will be the epicenter of the cycling world in 2015. Big Girls Ride Too will be a leisurely ride through the park. I especially want my Plus size counterparts to come out and of course our supporters and let the world know Big Girls Ride Too!! I look forward to seeing you!!

Sign Up for the RVA Bike Forum

6 Sep
A two-way cycle track (separated bike lane) in Washington, D.C.

A two-way cycle track (separated bike lane) in Washington, D.C. From westernite.org.

Mark your calendar and register here for the RVA Bicycle Forum “A Look into Richmond’s Bike Future” on Thursday, September 26, 6-8 p.m. at the Science Museum of Virginia.

Co-sponsored by the Partnership for Smarter Growth and BikeWalk RVA (a Sports Backers initiative), the forum will feature keynote speaker Jim Sebastian, Manager of the Active Transportation Branch of the Washington, D.C., Department of Transportation.  There will also be a panel discussion with local officials and advocates who attended the recent informational outing to Arlington and D.C. about the near and more distant future of bicycling in Richmond.  (Click here for a 10-minute video about the trip).

If you want to arrive a bit early (5:30) or stay a bit late, you’ll also have the opportunity to take part in an informational open house about the Richmond Bicycle Master Plan currently being developed.

Hope to see you there!