Floyd Update – Your Help Needed One Last Time (Hopefully)!

14 Jan

If you’ve been following the Floyd Avenue bike-walk street saga you know that the city’s Urban Design Committee voted to not recommend the design last week (see previous post).  Some of the news coverage has suggested that it went that way because committee members were deferring to the concerns of residents.  They could have done that back in September.

What they did instead back then was recommend various additions to the plan to strengthen Floyd’s identity and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.  The design presented to them last week contained none of them.  It was voted down not because committee members are against the idea, but because the engineers basically ignored them. (See the committee’s report saying as much here).

The Good News

Here’s the good news: according to an email from Max Hepp-Buchanan of BikeWalk RVA, this rejection spurred some soul-searching and the traffic engineers are now including some of those additional design elements:

Over the weekend, Public Works received about 80 emails from people like you asking for an improved design before January 20 so that the project will gain the support of the Planning Commission and we can move on to implementation. Thank you!  What you did worked — I met with the engineers in Public Works yesterday to iron out some of the design details we think would make the project a better bike-walk street for everybody.

Public Works has promised to present a path for getting a posted speed limit of 20 MPH along Floyd Ave, implement unique pavement markings, signage, and branding that signals to drivers that Floyd Ave is a special place for walking and biking, and conduct a speed and volume study after six months to make sure everything is working right (and if it’s not, a plan to fix it).

It’s clear that the engineers at Public Works are feeling the heat — finally.  I’m especially encouraged that there is a clear plan to evaluate how Floyd is doing once everything’s in place and make changes accordingly.

What You Can Do

The immediate issue is to make sure that the improved design gets approved by the Planning Commission at their meeting next Tuesday, 1/20.  Here are two things you can do to help make sure that happens:

1.  Send a letter of support to Jeff Eastman at the City of Richmond. Just a few sentences will do. He’ll pass your comments on to the Planning Commission members.

2.  Show up at the Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, January 20, 1:30 PM, in the 5th floor conference room of City Hall and tell the commissioners in person that you support the project.

Reasons that I can see for supporting the project include:

• It is an important first step for Richmond to try out a type of bike- and pedestrian-friendly street that, once we determine what works best, could help make all of Richmond a better place to live.

• It will move us further in the direction of establishing a network of bikeways that would allow people to get anywhere they want to go safely.

• It will send a signal to everyone that bicycling and walking have a valued place in the city and that the city is serious about promoting them.

If the Planning Commission passes the plan, we can finally get going on implementing it.  If they vote it down, city council could override them.  We can’t be sure of that.  It would be best to get the plan passed by the commission.

 

 

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