Once upon a time I ran a news site, now I just have opinions on the news. 

Good morning, RVA: More bike lanes, school spending, and a board of barbers

Good morning, RVA! It's 76 °F, and, while highs will stay in the mid 80s, there’s a chance for thunderstorms throughout the afternoon. Keep an eye out!

Water cooler

Justin Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has an update from last night’s RPS school board meeting 💸. The board talked about how they’d spend their new-to-them money, and it’s no surprise what they intend to focus on: HVAC, bathrooms, that kind of stuff. There are some other interesting items of note hidden behind the paywall, one of which is new school buses. The existing bus fleet is getting old, so, makes sense, but it’s unfortunate that the timing didn’t work out a little better with RPS’s new public transit initiative for high school students. I imagine, in the long run, the plan is to reduce school bus spending.

Mark Robinson, also at the RTD, is keeping an eye on the Creighton Court redevelopment project 💸 as RRHA tries to transition folks out of old public housing and into better options. A big takeaway for me from this article: at least 150 folks signed up to get on a waiting list for vouchers for just 24 units across a couple different developments. Our affordable housing needs way outpace current availability.

Bike lanes are popping up (or, at least, trying to pop up) all across the City. I just got an email from the Department of Public Works yesterday saying construction of a westbound contra-flow bikelane on Grayland Avenue between Robinson and Harrison Streets will begin early September. Unfortunately, if you’re trying to head east, you’ll ride in traffic with sharrows—I’m guessing the street isn’t wide enough to support both a bi-directional bike lane and a lane of parking. I’m definitely too lazy to look through this engineering document (PDF) to find out, but I’d be interested in at least knowing the Terrible Consequences of taking away just enough parking to make a two-way bike lane happen. I imagine that folks will now just ride the wrong way in the one-way bike lane rather than ride in the street. Anyway, I’m not trying to complain too much about more bike lanes, because any new bike lane is one more than we have now. DPW has a handy fact sheet (PDF) with some cross sections of what the street will look like with the new bike lane, including floating parking like you see on Franklin Street now.

The RTD Editorial Board has this to say about a Monument Avenue resident and Confederate monument supporter: “We were especially happy to see that Helen Marie Taylor, now 94, is still fighting the good fight.” Certainly not the words I would have used! A person can have done a lot of good things in their life and still make some bad calls. You don’t have to be happy or supportive of them when they do. Meanwhile, south of here, students at UNC pulled down a Confederate monument on their own the night before classes began.

I am really into “Better Know a Board,” what I hope is an ongoing series by Ned Oliver at the Virginia Mercury. First up: The Board for Barbers and Cosmetology. To quote, “At this particular meeting, the half-full room smells good in a way public meetings usually do not – basically like hair product, but not at all overpowering.”

Saffeya Ahmed at RVA Mag lets us know about a cool a new mural project called “Fresh Paint” that has artists taking their inspiration from items in the Virginia Museum of History & Culture’s collection. You can watch the artists work on their pieces beginning September 10th.

Looks like the Governor has called a special session on August 30th, specifically for the General Assembly to redraw House of Delegates districts. More on this later, I’m sure.

This morning's longread

More Recycling Won't Solve Plastic Pollution

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I can move beyond recycling to limiting the amount of single-use plastic items I bring in to my life. But, if we really want to stem the ever-growing tide of trash plastic in our lives, we need to change some policies.

So what can we do to make responsible use of plastic a reality? First: reject the lie. Litterbugs are not responsible for the global ecological disaster of plastic. Humans can only function to the best of their abilities, given time, mental bandwidth and systemic constraints. Our huge problem with plastic is the result of a permissive legal framework that has allowed the uncontrolled rise of plastic pollution, despite clear evidence of the harm it causes to local communities and the world’s oceans. Recycling is also too hard in most parts of the U.S. and lacks the proper incentives to make it work well.

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Good morning, RVA: Violence, looking for a Public Art Coordinator, and (of course) scooters

Good morning, RVA: Violence, a deal falls through, and different diplomas