Check out these new, rad-looking bike racks on Grace Street—a commercial corridor that, until today, had no bike parking.
Thanks to Venture Richmond and Bike Walk RVA for making this happen. Also thanks to the Richmond Volunteer Bike Squad (not a real thing, but totally should be!) for putting them together and getting them installed.
Here are a few photos I took while riding bikes around to (almost) every PARK(ing) Day parklet. Thanks so much to Venture Richmond for leading this year’s edition of PARK(ing) Day, and to Louise and Brantley from Bike Walk RVA for putting together this bike tour. Friday was one of the best mornings in Richmond I’ve had in a while.
On Friday, September 20th, Richmond will join the rest of the world in celebrating PARK(ing) Day. Parking sucks, so why are we celebrating it? Well, this is PARK(ing) Day, not Parking Day. The former is an international event where folks transform horrible parking spaces into wonderful, temporary parklets for people, while the latter is…not a real thing (at least we hope not).
This year, Venture Richmond (spearheaded by our very own Max), has taken Richmond’s previously limited (but still cool!) PARK(ing) Day efforts and kicked them up a notch. We’ll have not one, not two, but 23parklets spread across different parts of the city.
BAM!, as they once said.
PARK(ing) Day is great but, unfortunately, oh-so-temporary, which is why we’re stoked on the addition of a competitive aspect this year. About half of the groups creating parklets on Friday have opted-in to a design/build competition judged by Ryan Rinn (formerly of Storefront for Community Design), Emily Smith of 1708 Gallery, Nathan Burrell of City Parks and Rec, and Yessenia Revilla who manages the City’s parklet program. The winning group will win a nice little chunk of start-up capital and the chance to work with Venture and the City to make their temporary parket a permanent place for people to hang downtown. This new, permanent parklet would be the first to take advantage of the City’s parklet program and serve as an example for other aspiring mini-park designers.
Why does all of this matter? Because cities are, ultimately, for people not cars. So much of our Downtown is taken up by parking decks, parking lots, parking spaces, and so little space—especially Downtown—is dedicated towards giving people a humane place to simply exist. PARK(ing) Day is important because it gives us a visual reminder that it doesn’t have to be this way! In fact, it’s pretty easy to take back some of that space and make our city a more comfortable, liveable, and fun place to be.
Progress! Because of our #sadsidewalksigns work (see Part 1 and Part 2), the Richmond Police Department realized that they do not have a policy for where they place their trailer signs. This is an important first step! From an email they sent us last week:
It appears we do not have a policy specifically directing how/where trailers will be parked. The policy will be modified accordingly. If you want to send over recommended verbiage, the policy writer would be happy to take it under consideration.
Our first priority with these signs is to keep them out of space that’s meant for humans—sidewalks, curb ramps, bus stops, and bike lanes. Furthermore, if we could get RPD put the digital trailer signs in on-street parking spaces that’d be a win, too. Not would that make our streets safer for all kinds of folks, but it could start creating a culture of always preserving space for people at the expense of space for cars.
With those two goals in mind, here’s what we sent back to the RPD today:
Below you’ll find our priorities and suggested language for a Richmond Police Department reader-board sign policy:
Reader-board signs and other Richmond Police Department property shall not obstruct sidewalks, pathways, bike lanes, ADA ramps, bus stops, bus lanes, or any other pedestrian, bicycle, or transit right-of-way, as that act would undermine the goals of Mayor Stoney’s Vision Zero Action Plan.
Alternatively, reader-board signs should, whenever possible, be placed in on-street parking spaces as not to endanger people walking, biking, or taking transit—the most vulnerable users of our street network and transportation systems.
Please let me know if you have any questions, and, again, thank you for the time you’ve dedicated to this so far.
Looks like a new RVA Bike Share station is coming to the Main Branch of the Richmond Public Library. We think this will bring the total number of stations to 17—still far short of the 40 we’re supposed to have at this point. This expansion will, however, fill the huge Monroe Ward-sized hole in the current network.
Our work to make sure the Richmond Police Department ends their habit of blocking sidewalks with digital trailer signs continues! In Part 1, we sent an email to Gene Lepley, who handles the RPD’s media requests. asking for a copy of the RPD’s policy regarding where and how it deploys digital trailer signs.
In just a couple hours we got back this reply:
Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
We are looking into the issue.
We should be able to provide an answer by tomorrow at the latest.
And then, the very next day, this response:
I’m told the message boards have been relocated.
Thanks for alerting us.
This is, of course, good news! In fact, here’s a picture of the previously poorly-placed digital trailer sign relocated to the other side of Arthur Ashe Boulevard—in the parking lane, even.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get a copy of the policy (assuming one exists) nor was it even mentioned by Mr. Lepley. So! We move on to #sadsidewalksigns, Part 2–in which we thank the Richmond Police Department for moving the offending sign and then reiterate our original request. You can read our follow up email in full below.
This is great news! Thank you for taking this issue seriously and relocating the message boards. We even grabbed a picture of the relocated board on Arthur Ashe Boulevard (see below).
However, our original request was for a copy of the Richmond Police Department’s policy regarding where and how it deploys these message boards. While we’re thankful for RPD’s quick response to these specific message boards, we want to make sure the RPD has the necessary policy in place to prevent future message boards from blocking sidewalks, ADA ramps, and bus stops.
If the Department does not have a policy about where and how to deploy message boards, we would be happy to work together to come up with a policy that allows for safe placement of these signs while not endangering people as they move about our city.
Again, thank you for the incredibly quick response, for moving the message boards to safer locations, and for your further attention on this matter.
A note about what we’re planning: We’re going to post all of the emails we send and receive, notes from meetings, and anything else generated by this process. Transparency is important. But, maybe more importantly, we think that by making the process of advocating for change public we can speed the actual implementation of those changes while also teaching folks how to get things done in their own neighborhoods and cities.
Below is our first email to RPD, asking if they have a policy regarding where and how they deploy digital trailer signs and, if not, offering to help them design one.
We’re writing to request a copy of the Richmond Police Department’s policy regarding where and how it deploys digital trailer signs.
In recent weeks, we’ve come across several trailer signs parked directly in the middle of sidewalks, blocking pedestrian and ADA access. Pictures of two of them are attached below. The first, parked in the pedestrian refuge in the middle of Belvidere at Leigh Street, blocked both ADA ramps. The second, on the southbound side of Arthur Ashe Boulevard at Moore Street, was parked directly in a bus stop. These sign placements are problematic and we observed dozens of complaints from concerned citizens.
As you know, in October 2017, Mayor Stoney signed a Vision Zero Pledge and in early 2018, the first draft of the Vision Zero Action Plan was completed. The work to make our streets safer for people continues across many City departments and the Richmond Police Department is an import partner in Richmond’s Vision Zero strategy. Unfortunately, the placement of these signs are counterproductive to Vision Zero by forcing pedestrians out into the street, making it harder and less safe to walk on our sidewalks. We hope this can be prevented in the future.
If the Department does not have a policy about where and how to deploy trailer signs, we would be happy to work together to come up with a policy that allows for safe placement of these signs while not endangering people as they move about our city.
This is the second time we’ve come across one of these digital trailer signs set up by the Richmond Police Department dead center in the middle of a sidewalk, blocking access to ADA curb ramps. This one in particular was carelessly dropped IN A DANG BUS STOP on the southbound side of Arthur Ashe Boulevard. The cruelest, worst part is the messages on the signs are about locking your CARS to prevent theft. Maybe since the messages are directed at car drivers, the Police Department should set up the reader boards in a parking spot instead? Because right now, this campaign does not meet the City of Richmond’s Vision Zero goals.