As of today, the first two sets of bike racks are here! Here's the view on North side of the 700 block:
Thanks to the Urban Enterprise Association and Whitewater Construction for making this a reality. Thanks to Mark Stosberg at Summersault for driving the process forward and presenting such specific, compelling plans and rationale for the racks. Thanks to everyone who voiced your support for the racks or offered to contribute financially. And thanks to everyone who carefully considers their choice of transportation and its impact on quality of life in our community and beyond.
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.
Last night I got to experience Richmond as a kind of tourist, and I really enjoyed it. I was hosting cross-country cyclist Ben Lyon at my house through a Warmshowers.org connection, and he came into town ready to hang out and see some sights. We ended up gathered with Aaron, Mark and Thomas on my front porch to hear about Ben's trip so far, and then set out on our bikes for dinner. Continue reading "Velotraverse"→
This past week I had my first experience hosting some cross-country cyclists for a night. Quinn, Ken and Andy are biking from Portland, OR to New York, NY and came through Indiana, riding into Richmond on US-40. I recently became the sole human occupant of a house with great space for hosting guests, and so I figured the least I could do is sign up for some opportunities to help out folks who find themselves on interesting journeys through the area.
WarmShowers.org is a resource for facilitating just that for cyclists, and it's a great way to find or offer lodging. You can provide as much or as little information about your location and "amenities" as you want, and you're under no obligation to host anyone at any particular time. It's similar to other resources like CouchSurfing.org or even Mennonite Your Way.
There was a lot of pressure in this country today to ride your bike to work, and frankly, I think it was a little overdone. There's so much about the way our nation's transportation system is setup that favors cyclists, and it feels like we've shoved aside pedestrian thoroughfares and open sidewalks so we can accommodate the increasing number of bikes out there. Sometimes the bike culture seems a little obsessive and insane - it's just a bike, a possession, you know? But they're taking over the world.
So that's why I chose to walk to and from work today - a "walk to work day" if you will. I represented one less bike on the road, and it felt good.
Think about all of the ways that bikes are harming our environment, our culture, our communities:
You may know about the ongoing conversation about safe bike riding in Uptown Richmond (the business district). At the end of last year, there was a nice improvement when signs that appeared to prohibit biking on that stretch of Main Street came down. I had an interesting related exchange today while walking on the sidewalk. A young man on a bike was riding on the sidewalk, headphones on, coming toward me quickly, and I saw him at the last minute with barely enough time to jump out of the way: Continue reading "An exchange on the street about biking Uptown"→
While I was in Chicago this past week for the professional technical conference some of us from Summersault were attending, we were walking to dinner one night and witnessed the driver of an SUV come within inches of hitting a cyclist. Despite the fact that the driver was rushing to turn through a yellow light, in typical big-city style, the driver of the SUV had the additional gall to yell at the cyclist to look out where she was going and then speed off. The biker was shaken up a bit but carried on fine, and we went on our way.
Not the most positive exchange, but at least the cyclist wasn't actually hit and hurt or killed. Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the death of Earlham graduate Jessica Bullen after being struck by a driver in Madison, Wisconsin - her story and memorial fund are described here. Even more sadly, Jessica was a strong advocate (in a town that I consider quite biker-friendly already) for cyclists and worked to raise awareness for motorists that inattentive driving could result in a preventable injury or death. My life has been impacted in other ways by similar deaths - a good friend of my family started Fernside, a now internationally known center for grieving children, after her son was killed on his bike as a result of being struck by a car. Continue reading "When people driving cars kill people riding bikes"→
When gas prices go up, people tend to complain that something needs to be done about the problem. Many demand action from the local or federal government, gas companies, or fellow citizens. Like Jason Sparks, whose letter in the Pal-Item yesterday read, "Why is the government not stepping in?...How are we supposed to pay the bills?...Let's shut down the country, then maybe someone would step in. We cannot afford this." Or Brad Hall, who was quoted in an article today asking, "What's going to be next?...How're people going to survive and get around?"