Archive | July, 2014

Is Richmond on its Way?

24 Jul
Virginia Capital Trail near Williamsburg.  from virginiadot.org.

Virginia Capital Trail near Williamsburg. from virginiadot.org.

 

If you’re talking about becoming bike-friendly, a recent article in the RTD says we are indeed on our way.  As much as I find myself deeply frustrated on some days at the slow progress and compromises, I keep hoping that we’ll turn a corner soon and the pace will pick up (and I’ve come to understand if not fully accept that the process is going to be slower and farther from perfect than I’d like).

One of the best signs is that citizens successfully convinced members of city council to put a total of $4.5 million for bike infrastructure and the Brown’s Island Dam Walk into the budget.  And the city is close to completing a full-fledged bicycle master plan that will hopefully be approved as part of a multimodal transportation plan called Richmond Connects.

The Virginia Capital Trail is also making some visible progress.  I’ve heard that construction of the trail has finally begun in Henrico for the New Market Heights phase, and the sections in Richmond and Varina are due to be completed by fall 2015.

By all accounts the most recent meeting about the Floyd Avenue bike-walk street went much better than the previous one, where vocal opponents derailed the agenda.  The latest meeting held last week , where design details were revealed, was for the most part much more civil (see coverage here and here).  The project is not a done deal, but it seems like it has a good chance of moving forward.

Let’s hope that Richmond does kick it into a higher gear — otherwise Chesterfield County may take the lead in bicycle infrastructure.  Chesterfield recently started process of developing its own Bicycle and Trails Plan.  The plan web site includes a link for a survey if you’d like to weigh in.  Rumor has it that even Henrico is starting to see the light.  The city has significant advantages for biking for transportation by virtue of density and a good street grid, but it would be great to see a regional bike network.

 

 

 

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Important Floyd Ave Meeting Tuesday 7/15

10 Jul
Bike-walk street in Palo Alto, CA.  From Cyclelicio.us.

Bicycle boulevard in Palo Alto, CA. From Cyclelicio.us.

This is it, folks!  Proposed design details for the Floyd Avenue bike-walk street (aka bike boulevard) project will be presented and discussed this coming Tuesday July 15, 6:30-8 pm, at the Virginia Historical Society.  This is not a final design, but will include more specific recommendations compared to previous meetings.

If you support this project and the expansion of bike infrastructure in Richmond, please make a point to come to this meeting.  It’s especially important for residents near Floyd to make their voices heard, but we can use all of the support we can get.

The last meeting in May made clear that there is a very energetic and vocal minority intent on seeing this project killed altogether.  They clearly don’t want to discuss the project except to say they reject it.  We need to show the relevant council members — Samuels, Baliles, and Agelasto — that many people strongly support the project, even if they may have concerns about some details.

We can do this!

Crime and Punishment

4 Jul

Thought I’d try to bring together a few recent blog-worthy items with this title — possibly intriguing either fans of Dostoyevsky or the crime section of the RTD.

Three Feet Law is in Effect!

It’s now official: if a motor vehicle is passing you on the road, they need to give you at least three feet of space.  Virginia law was previously two feet, but now we’re in line with most of the rest of the country.

Even if you do not choose to affix a yard stick to your bike (although that would be an interesting way to test adherence to the law), the law can still help you.  It sends a signal that drivers need to be cautious when passing bicycles.  It can also help if you end up in an accident as the result of someone passing too closely.

Virginia Bicycling Federation has bumper stickers to help spread the word, along with more details on the law.

Dead Bikes

Richmond city council passed a new ordinance over a year ago to deal with issues of bike parking and “dead bikes” — those remnants you sometimes see locked to signs posts or racks and taking up space while they are slowly stripped and rust away.  (See an earlier post here for details on the law).

Maybe this reveals a little of the “get off my lawn” in my personality, but these bikes really get to me, especially when they’re attached to one of the racks installed by the city.  The combination of letting a good bike go to waste and taking up a parking spot just pisses me off.  It doesn’t help that in one case I decided to go straight to police headquarters to ask about removing some of them and received a response along the lines of “That’s not our job.”

I’m happy to say that the city is supposedly working out some of the kinks in dealing with these bikes: according to Richmond.com, “the See Click Fix website is now the preferred route for reporting dead bikes. When reporting, make sure to include “abandoned bikes” or “dead bikes” in your submitted issue.”  That will help those compiling a list of bikes to tag and then remove.  

The best way to lock your bike.  From bikesd.org.

The best way to lock your bike. From bikesd.org.

Stolen Bikes

Seems crazy that so many bikes rot away while other people have to deal with losing their transportation to theft.  The RTD just reported that about 500 bikes were reported stolen last year in Richmond, and about 28 a month are swiped in the Fan alone.

Bikes usually get stolen because they’re locked with a flimsy lock or not locked properly.  Most bike thieves go for the easiest targets.  The advice in the RTD piece is a good start: use a good lock, lock to something solid, and register your bike so you can claim it if it’s recovered.  A small tree is not a good bike rack, and the law mentioned above also made it illegal to lock your bike to a city tree (it’s really bad for the tree too).  A good lock is a quality U-lock.

The city of Richmond has a page devoted to secure and legal bike parking, and there are lots of lock reviews and other blog posts on the subject.  This one takes the unusual step of interviewing bike thieves in NYC and asking some of them to try their luck with various locks.  The bottom line: a strong U- lock on your frame and back wheel, and possibly a cable or second lock for your front wheel is the way to go.  Cable locks and standard chains and padlocks can be broken in a matter of seconds, a couple of minutes at most.  Locking just a wheel, around the stem or handlebars, or the fork is pretty much an invitation to theft.