Good morning, RVA! It's 76 °F, and temperatures keep on creeping up. Today, expect highs in the mid 90s and maybe a few clouds if you’re lucky. Wear sunscreen and stay hydrated!
Well, I went to Councilmember Hilbert’s 3rd District meeting last night to hear what he had to say about his ordinance to prevent bike lanes on Brook Road (ORD. 2018-194 (PDF)). I gotta say, while 50+ folks showed up and many had incredibly thoughtful/smart things to say, I walked away very disappointed. After an hour and a half of conversation with Hilbert and Councilmember Gray (who also showed up), I still don’t have a clear picture of why this ordinance was introduced or the real reasoning behind it.
Early in the meeting, Councilmember Hilbert said the 300 new apartments going in at the Westwood Tract (remember that whole situation?) would create a biblical flood of traffic that a Brook Road, narrowed for a protected bike lane, would be unable to handle. If he’d of done the same amount of research I did just now, in my pajamas at 6:00 AM, he’d have found two things: First, in 2016, the peak annual average daily traffic for any segment of Brook Road from Chamberlayne Parkway north to the city line is 10,000 vehicles (PDF) and, second, the Federal Highway Administration “advises that roadways with ADT (average daily traffic) of 20,000 vpd (vehicles per day) or less may be good candidates for a Road Diet.” There is no way, in any world, that the residents of 300 apartments, no matter how many cars they own or how much they love driving up and down Brook Road, will double the amount of traffic.
This, of course, was brought up in the meeting and caused the councilmembers to shift their reasoning for the ordinance to “Richmond has changed so much in the last three years since the Bike Master Plan was completed, that the recommended solution is based on old and inaccurate data.” One: If we’re only willing to do City projects based on data that’s less than three years old, we will never ever do a City project. Three years is, like, the brightest, freshest data that could ever exist. Two: If the councilmembers’ real concern is that the existing plan doesn’t meet the existing needs, why would you permanently take an option off the table with this ordinance? What happens when, in the magical world where we have data less than three years old, the recommendation is...a bike lane on Brook Road?
GAH! I didn’t meant to write hundreds of words on this, it’s just frustrating to see a project that’s been in the works for years abruptly killed by two elected representatives legislating based on how they feel instead of the listening to experts and relying on data. This is “just a bike lane,” but it’s also a horrible way to govern and something I’m nervous about spreading beyond bike lanes into other things the City’s working on.
Annnnnnyway, here’s how to get involved:
- If you’re a 2nd or 3rd District resident, use this handy form to send Councilmember Hilbert or Gray your thoughts and feelings.
- If you’re anyone else and think that submitting legislation to prevent the Brook Road bike lane is ill-conceived, let your council person know (make sure you copy their liaison).
- If you’d like to stay more involved with Northside-related bike stuff, join the Bike Walk Northside facebook group.
Whoa, the principal of Carver Elementary School—which, you’ll remember, is under investigation for SOL testing irregularities—has been removed from her position says Justin Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
On Saturday, June 30th, at Second Baptist Church (1400 Idlewood Avenue), community members will host another meeting to discuss police policies and procedures after a Richmond Police officer shot and killed Marcus-David Peters.
We’ve got two days left in RVA Transit Week, which means two days left to ride the Pulse and all the other GRTC buses for free! Taber Bain has put together a great explainer of six new features of our transit network that are not the Pulse. I’m particularly stoked on the #20 and the #5!
Speaking of, tomorrow, you can join me and some other folks as we close out RVA Transit Week with a brewery and beer crawl by bus. We’ll meet up at 3:00 PM at Three Notch’d Brewing Company near the Scott’s Addition station and head east throughout the day. Hope to see you there!
- Squirrels fell to Hartford, 1-4, and continue their road journey with a series against Harrisburg that begins tonight at 7:00 PM.
- Kickers return home to host North Carolina FC on Saturday at 7:00 PM. Tickets are available online.
- Nats lost a close one to the Phillies, 3-4, and will wrap up that series tonight and over the weekend.
This morning's patron longread
From Patron Maggi comes this piece about how we’re always incrementally refining cars to make them safer and why we aren’t doing that with other industries—one in particular.
Technologies that were mandated in the 1960s (like seat belts and collapsible steering columns) are still saving thousands of lives each year. But the car crash death rate has continued to drop in part because of smaller, subtler design changes. To understand how those changes happen, we have to go back to the government databases. Safety engineers like Matt Brumbelow, who works with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IHS), can sift through the databases to spot new problems to solve. Then car manufacturers can set up crash test experiments, analyze the results, and adjust their designs to make safer vehicles. Brumbelow says the databases are incredibly important. “They’re really indispensable. Without real crash data we would just be guessing.”
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