As almost always seems to happen in Richmond — and it’s disappointing — a neighborhood debate in Northside over a planned dedicated bicycle lane may turn into something else.
“Given the economic environment, the needs of people, anything that limits access to more affordable transportation options does everyone a disservice, but particularly people of color,” said Najeema Davis Washington, who co-founded Black Women Bike in 2011.
I wrote about the proposal at the start of this month, taking a skeptical stance. This column in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch by Michael Paul Williams included that quote at the top to set the tone. He has one basic hammer, and everything is a nail. In this case I think he might be hitting his thumb.
A proposed Richmond City Council ordinance would stop the plan to take two lanes of Brook and dedicate them (with barriers) for bikes 24/7. It was set for the July 23 agenda but delayed, perhaps to gather more information on impact or to reconsider alternatives. I sometimes see the patron, Council President Chris Hilbert, around the condo building where we both live and haven’t pressed him for details on the delay.
My primary purpose in writing the first column was to raise the issue, because I think most homeowners in the area were unaware. I also had seen the problems on Franklin Street, and admittedly people are getting used to the new configuration (but they do not like it). Williams’s column in today’s paper is the first mention of Brook Road in that medium, and the more people who know, the better. (One Richmond TV station has also covered it.)
I also brought it up because transportation is probably the issue that addicted me to this blog, as Bacon and I wrangled over highway taxes, etc. Apparently, there are federal funds available to encourage localities to take perfectly good highway lanes out of service – who knew? I’ve learned the phrase road diet!
The people who have the biggest stake in this issue are the property owners along the route, and most of the properties are single or multifamily residential. Many more apartments are coming. Many homeowners park on Brook, lacking driveways or alleys. The proposed bike lanes run from the Gilpin Court housing project up to Henrico County, past Virginia Union University and Union Seminary and a hospital. It is a very diverse neighborhood, which is one reason I like it. I’m sure people of color are on all sides of this discussion, and some homeowners will welcome this because it will divert traffic somewhere else.
Just yesterday I drove up Brook and a tractor-trailer was waiting to turn left at a light at a big intersection. It had its butt end sticking out in the traffic lane. It’s a long wait for that turn light and if that had been the only lane for cars, a multi-cycle backup would have resulted. Maneuvering around it reminded me of my concerns. My opinion matters less than those of people directly on Brook or the closest side streets. As a city taxpayer, however, it might matter a bit more than an advocate from DeeCee.There are currently no comments highlighted.