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The Big Bike Lanes Blog Post

“It’s overwhelming, right?” asked Mike Sawyer, Richmond’s Transportation Engineer. I have to admit my head was spinning a bit from the dozen or so boards illustrating about 25 miles of new bike lane design. I smiled and nodded. “That’s what happens when we go big.”

The City of Richmond went big last night.IMG_2511In one meeting, City planners and engineers presented the public with long-awaited new bike lane designs of about 10 different corridors, some in the near-final stages and others in earlier, more conceptual stages. It’s been over a year since the City striped a new bike lane on our streets, and people are eager to see more. The excitement was palpable, radiating from the packed room of around 140 attendees. People brought their children and we provided puzzles and coloring books to keep them entertained. One of our Bike Walk RVA Champions, Emily, even made over 100 cookies for everyone.

I spent a lot of time last night working the room, asking people what they thought, and providing comments of my own. While people were excited about the new mileage, not everyone was as excited about the actual designs. The big takeaway: people want physical protection from traffic. Only one corridor (Franklin Street) provided physical separation in the form of plastic posts, and even that protection was sacrificed for a couple of blocks to make room for on-street parking.FranklinWhen given a choice between two alternatives for one corridor, the public was often asked to choose between a curb-side buffered bike lane with a floating parking lane to provide occasional physical protection, or a buffered bike lane sandwiched between the parking and travel lane (see Brook Road example below). The option of a bike lane protected by plastic bollards, some amount of curb, or even attractive planter boxes was not included. And yet, that’s what people seem to want the most. Our opinion is that even a little physical protection on a curb-side bike lane can go a long way in making people feel safe and comfortable and ensuring that people don’t drive or park cars in the bike lanes.

Brook

So here is your call to action:

  1. Review the bike lane designs on the City’s website. Consider what would make you feel most comfortable biking for transportation on our streets. What about children? And elderly people?
  2. Download the comment form, write your thoughts on the new designs, and submit them to [email protected]. Comments will be accepted through mid-December.
  3. Share this with your friends and family, especially if they don’t currently ride. What type of infrastructure do they need to feel safe? Write it down and submit it! Let’s build it!

Richmond continues to make great strides in becoming a bikeable city, but we need to be right there with our planners and engineers, encouraging a connected and protected network for all ages and abilities every step of the way.

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