Good morning, RVA! It's 79 °F, and no heat advisory today but still a chance for temperatures in the upper 90s. Keep your eye out for thunderstorms this afternoon, too, which may help cool things down.
Today, the General Assembly reassembles to theoretically tackle some federally required redistricting. Ned Oliver and Mechelle Hankerson at the Virginia Mercury have the details, but also say you shouldn’t get your hopes up on any dramatic changes—or anything at all—happening soon. Dilly dally too long, though, and the courts will step in and redraw the maps themselves. Reema Amin at the Daily Press has a good explainer on how we got here that you should read, too. Finally, if you want to get involved, you can join One Virginia 2021 throughout the entire day as they advocate for fair redistricting. Festivities start at 9:00 AM with bagels down at the SunTrust Building (919 E. Main Street).
Yesterday, Mayor Stoney announced a big expansion of after-school events for elementary and middle school students. It sounds like Richmond’s philanthropic community upped their contributions to a handful of nonprofits already providing after-school programs by $2 million. This allows the nonprofits to serve more students at more schools, plus—and this is big—transportation will be provided. Trucking kids around, to and from events and activities, is real expensive and often a huge barrier to attendance for youth. This makes me think that maybe we should expand our yet-to-launch free bus pass program to elementary and middle school students as well. Not that they’d ride the bus around by themselves, but, with appropriate supervision, we could probably get (some) kids to and from programs while teaching them how to move around the City.
This is old news, but I’ve been out of town and disconnected for a bit: The City has allowed a construction company to close the sidewalk, both directions of the Franklin Street bike lane, and the floating parking lane in between 2nd and 3rd Streets. Until October 12th! Despite an entire parking lane, sitting right there waiting to be creatively used, there is no protected path through the construction for pedestrians or cyclists, and the westbound detour sign half-heartedly points towards Grace Street with no further signs bringing folks back to Franklin. This is real, real bad and just one more signal that the City values private development over actual people using the public streets and sidewalks. I mean, the dang Main Branch of the Richmond Public Library is across the street, and folks are constantly walking and biking through this intersection! To open a new, extremely popular bike lane only to have a chunk of it obliterated a couple months later—with no equally safe alternative provided—feels like a big middle finger to the progress we’re making toward equitable mobility in this city. Can we please, please get this fixed? Can someone with decision-making power please just take a single second and consider HUMANS before closing major bike lanes and sidewalks? For more context, I yelled about this and posted some pictures on a Twitter yesterday.
We’re already a bunch of days in, and I feel real bad about that, but Untold RVA is hosting Gabriel Week through Sunday with events each day celebrating Gabriel, his contribution to Richmond’s story, and how, today, we can be inspired by his struggle for freedom. Tonight, join folks in Gabriel’s Freedom Park in Highland Park (3100 Meadowbridge Road) from 5:00–9:00 PM for all kinds of festivities hosted by the seemingly omnipresent Kelli Lemon.
Justin Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a Q&A with Henrico Superintendent Amy Cashwell before the start of the school year—her first since the County hired her in June.
Another day another list of people and things. Richmond Magazine has released their 2018 Best and Worst list. Is there a category for best best-and-worst list?
This morning's longread
Here’s the best scooter explainer I’ve found. Make sure you check the graphs down at the bottom that show folks with lower incomes are more likely to have a positive perception of the scooters than those with higher incomes.
Investors right now are also hungry for transportation startups, which partly explains the scooter boom. From ride-hailing to self-driving cars to electric cars, billions of dollars are pouring into companies that move people around. But short trips between apartments and metro stops or leisurely rides across parks remained a vacuum until recently. So dockless bikes and, later, electric scooters rushed in to fill the void, securing millions if not billions in financing while clawing for market share. On the customer side, there is a cadre of riders primed to adopt electric scooters. The generation that grew up rolling around culs-de-sac on Razor scooters is now commuting in urban centers. Balancing on two wheels is already familiar to them, so an app-enabled scooter rental service that can get you to work without breaking a sweat is an appealing throwback and a flash-forward.
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