Good morning, RVA! It's 72 °F, and today’s highs are back up near 90 °F—that’s hot! We may see a few cooler days this week, but these summery temperatures are pretty much what you should expect.
Last week, Alabama’s Republican-led Government passed a law banning abortions in that state. Make no mistake: This law is designed to challenge Roe v. Wade in court and is extremely terrifying and will only serve to make the lives of women living in Alabama—especially women of color—more dangerous. As Virginians who presumably don’t want our state to turn into Gilead, we need to keep our eyes on our leaders and legislators as we creep towards elections and this coming General Assembly session. Unfortunately, some of our Republicans, gleefully high on Alabama’s successful attempts to restrict the rights of women, will try and introduce similar legislation in Virginia. Look, here comes one now: Republican Delegate Bob Thomas who represents Fredericksburg and Stafford County. Luckily, at the moment, we have a Democratic Governor who says “My veto pen is ready and full of ink.” We’re also lucky to have excellent Democratic legislators like State Senator McClellan who has a good Twitter thread about how abortion bans cause women to suffer. Get used to hearing about this topic, because I’m sure abortion will join blackface as the top issues in this coming November’s elections. Put another way: The rights of women and people of color are at the core of this year’s elections, and there is a lot at stake for the Commonwealth.
Dang do I emphasize with this Bill Lohmann column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch about traveling as a Richmonder 💸. Every time I travel, even just last week taking the train to Newark, I feel like a country mouse in the Big City—regardless of which city I’m in and how big it may actually be (population of Newark: 285,00; population of Richmond: 227,000). But, after a few years, getting around in other cities has gotten easier and it always involves taking public transportation and lots of walking. Lohmann says he’s found the same thing about his travels: “We’ve actually gotten pretty good on the Paris Metro, the city’s subway system, and we rode trams around Amsterdam as if we actually knew what we were doing. When we weren’t mastering public transportation systems, we were hoofing it everywhere. We walked an average of more than 12 miles a day...” What is it that makes us more comfortable with walking a dozen miles in a faraway city but unwilling to do even a fraction of that in Richmond? How do we take that freedom you feel in getting around as a carless visitor and bring it back home to RVA?
This breakdown, by Frank Green in the RTD, of how industrial hemp works in Virginia is fascinating 💸. This year, farmers (growers?) in the Commonwealth plan on planting 7,000 acres of industrial hemp—not for rope fiber but mostly for CBD extract. My slightly-conspiratorial take is that all of these policies and procedures for hemp exist only as a legal marijuana beta test. Whenever the General Assembly gets around to legalizing, Virginia’s farmers and regulators will be ready to mount up.
Somehow I missed this over the last couple of years, and I had no idea that we had a bridge to nowhere in Virginia! Ned Oliver at the Virginia Mercury says it cost $100 million and “will finally connect to a road.” Virginia’s Secretary of Finance Aubrey Lane, once the secretary of transportation, says “At least it connects to something now.” Lol / aw man what a horrible waste of transportation money.
It’s your final reminder! The casual infrastructure tour by bike that I’m co-leading with my pal Max, aka Max and Ross Bike Things, is tonight! Meet at 6:00 PM at Monroe Park. Bring yourself, your bike, and some lights. Expect to see all of Richmond’s hottest new transportation infrastructure, ride through a lot of it, learn a couple things, and drink a few beers. See you then!
This morning's longread
As we pedal out the end of bike month: Bikes are for everyone!
I’m not going to tell you how to become a “proper” cyclist. The truth is, that doesn’t exist. Riding a bike is one of the most joyful things you can do, but I’ve often found that the unadulterated pleasure of riding a bike gets lost in a weird narrative, stripping cycling down to the best kit and road bikes you should own, or how to increase your average riding speed.
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