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.
(Sometimes I wake with a start in the night and think I can hear Palladium-Item Viewpoints Editor Dale McConnaughay's voice chanting in the distance, "you must take a stand, you must enter the fray!" It's probably because almost every editorial the newspaper has published in the last two months about the income or expenses of City government have included a not-so-subtle encouragement for current candidates for office to make that particular issue a part of our political campaigns. Today, I'll bite.)
The Center City Development Corporation has asked that $300,000 of the $5 million in funds available through Richmond's Certified Technology Park account be used to support renewed operations of the organization and its Uptown Innovation Center facility. The Palladium-Item covered the request today in a news article and related editorial, the latter of which painted the request as just another ask for taxpayer funded handouts to support private business efforts and essentially encourages a "no" vote by the Redevelopment Commission, the entity that approves the funding request.
There's an interesting and sad article in today's Palladium-Item, Main Street struggles for survival. Articles like it are being written about struggling downtown areas across the country, so of course it's nothing new in "this economy," but because it's about the downtown in my community, I take special notice.
The article contains some interviews with downtown business owners, some perspective on the history of the Main Street organization there, and some talk of renewed activity from merchants and business owners (myself among them) in helping make the area thrive. But there's something missing from the picture the article paints.
For over a year now, I've lived less than a mile away from my company's office in downtown Richmond, Indiana. And for the first time in my life, on most days I get to and from the office by walking instead of driving. It's been a really enjoyable shift, and one that I hope I never take for granted, given how much of the rest of the country commutes to work every day.
Some observations on walking to work:
Since walking has become my usual mode of commuting, I've found myself noticing even more what complex and sometimes onerous machines automobiles can be. There a feeling of lightness I have in walking out the door and propelling myself down the street, feeling my muscles working and pace changing, saying hi to people and noticing changes in their moods and dispositions from day to day, just being out in the open air of the world. This is much different from the protocols for entering, activating and safely operating my internal combustion go-go machine from one place to another; it's just a much heavier and more isolating experience, and while it still has its place, I'm quite glad to partake in it less often. Continue reading "Walking to Work"→