Good morning, RVA! It's 73 °F, and highs today are back up near 90 °F. Keep a lookout for some rain later this evening.
It’s scooter day! Today Bolt will launch their scooter fleet in Richmond at 2:00 PM in Monroe Park, and I’m very excited to add electric scooters back into my collection of tools for getting around town Also, somehow I missed that Usain Bolt is a “co-founder and backer“ of Bolt Scooters? Anyway, get yourself a scooter ride today!
Micheal Paul Williams’s column today is about Virginia’s Republicans and how they refuse to address gun violence 💸. It’s a good one, and I’ll just quote this sentence while linking to the voter registration page again: “Nothing will come of this special session with the same cast of GOP characters extinguishing bills in committee.”
Have we talked about the Shockoe Valley Streets Improvement Project yet? I honestly cannot remember. This is a pretty massive, $28 million project to redo the entire interaction between I-95 and Church Hill/Shockoe Valley and involves bike lanes, pedestrian improvements, big roundabouts—the works. You can see a couple of renderings here (PDF) or look through the massively complex engineering diagrams here (PDF). The City’s Urban Design Committee will talk through the project today at their regularly-scheduled meeting.
It’s been a while, but here’s some zoning news from Powhatan. Laura McFarland at the RTD/Powhatan Today says that a group of folks (including the Richmond Association of Realtors) has filed a lawsuit against the Board of Supervisors for their decision to eliminate the Residential-Commercial zoning district. Not only did the County eliminate the zoning type, but they downzoned folks’ property, too. Imagine waking up one day and suddenly your property was zoned only for agriculture: “Instead of businesses such as restaurants, gas stations, drug stores, shopping centers and other retail sales establishments, the A-10 zoning district permitted uses include animal and crop production, forestry and logging, dwellings, government offices, places of worship and recreational facilities.” Woof. Anyway, cities are rad, and it makes me laugh how in rural Virginia mixed-used zoning is deemed too controversial. Meanwhile, in Richmond, we’re trying to do mixed-use anywhere and everywhere we can stick it.
I did not know what a “buttery” was, but now I do thanks to J. Elias O’Neal’s piece on the Nutty Buttery, a new ice cream shop / restaurant in Carver. Also, Nutty Buttery will host the Carver Area Civic Improvement League meetings, and now I must hearby demand all local meetings take place at an ice cream shop!
This is cool: RVA Coffee Stain has released one of his drawings of the Fan as a PDF for folks to color in themselves. At some point, every member of my family has been real into (digital) coloring as a way to chill, and this sounds like a good excuse to get back into it.
Two public meetings for you to be aware of tonight. First, GRTC will hold a public meeting to talk about the bus service improvements proposed by the Mayor and (mostly) funded by City Council. That meeting takes place at the East End Branch Library (1200 N. 25th Street) from 6:00–7:00 PM. Second, the Mayor will hold his 2nd District community office hours tonight at Carver Elementary School (1101 W. Leigh Street) at: 6:30 PM. These meetings are a good time to ask the Mayor any questions you’ve got and to hear what other folks in your district are concerned about. If I were a 2nd District resident, I might use the opportunity to talk about sidewalks and providing safe paths for pedestrians and people on bikes through construction. But that’s just me! 10 extra points for riding a scooter to either of these meetings.
This morning's longread
This article pairs well with today’s scooter announcement. There’s a fine line between providing access to public transportation for folks who previously didn’t have it and cannibalizing trips that would have otherwise been bus rides. That said, there are parts of Richmond that are extremely hard to serve with public transportation, and we should do what we can (scooters!) to get folks traveling to and from those places and into the larger transit network.
Ride-hailing companies “make a lot of money off these streets and sidewalks,” she noted, but they have no obligation to invest in the infrastructure they use. Nor are they required to serve low-income neighborhoods or cater to the elderly, non-English speakers or people with disabilities. All of this erodes the fundamental idea of public transportation as a service that everyone uses. Jarrett Walker, a transit-design consultant, recently noted on the “Rideshare Guy” podcast that when Uber and Lyft divert relatively affluent riders from public transit, there’s a damaging effect on “elite opinion.” He added: “The notion among elites that, ‘Well, Uber is the thing, because it’s so convenient to me. Therefore, public transit should somehow become more like Uber.’”
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