As a employer of many high tech-workers who would prefer to ride their bikes to work instead of driving a car, my company Summersault has a real stake in having bike parking options near our downtown office. We've even interviewed potential hires who cite the availability of bike parking and other types of alternative transportation support as an important factor in their decision to live and work in a city like Richmond, and with a limited pool of local technical talent to start with, it's in our interest to take that very seriously.
Most other communities have recognized the benefits of having bike parking in a central retail and business district like Richmond's. They're good for business (when cyclists feel invited to shop downtown, they tend to spend even more money in a given area than car drivers do), they help prevent damage to benches, trees and lamp posts, they make for a more orderly-looking streetscape, they prevent theft, and they're relatively cheap to buy and install.
Unfortunately, in all of the time that I've worked in downtown Richmond, there hasn't been any convenient and consistently available bike parking available here.
If Richmond wants to be able to say that it's a city looking forward, a city that wants to attract and retain the modern worker, a city that cares about issues of sustainability and energy usage, it absolutely needs to have bike racks in its central business district.
Hopefully the current dearth of bike parking is about to change.
For the last few years, we at Summersault (as coordinated by my coworker and local bikes-as-transportation advocate Mark Stosberg) have been asking the City of Richmond and related entities, "What can we do to get bike racks here?"
We've pointed out how the City's own comprehensive planning supports the installation of bike racks, we've offered to pay for them (they're only $65 each), we've gotten price quotes and offered to manage relationships with vendors, we've presented specific plans and recommendations for where they can go (which have been approved), and we've even offered to install them ourselves - hey, I've got a wheelbarrow to mix some concrete in.
As you can imagine, sometimes the decision-making processes and bureaucracy in these matters make for slow progress, but we've found that people are very receptive to the idea and want to make it happen. Now, it looks like the Urban Enterprise Association (UEA), which has taken up the mantle of getting the racks installed, is approaching the final steps in completing an initial installation.
If bike parking, and having alternative transportation options in general, is important to you, please let the UEA know that you support the installation of bike racks in Richmond's center city. You can contact UEA program director Beth Fields at (765) 983-7396 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Hopefully I'll be updating this post soon with news about the first racks getting installed!