Richmond debuts its Bike Master Plan

For months, city planners here in Richmond have been working with outside consultants to develop the city’s first-ever Bike Master Plan (or BMP). The draft plan debuted a couple of weeks back and now is where the feedback begins!Adding comments to Richmond's draft Bike Master Plan BMP

Last week, a packed house gathered at the city’s Carillon to get a detailed view of what’s in Richmond’s BMP. The plan is meant to provide a road map – literally and figuratively – of all the lanes, trails, and on-street improvements to be made in the coming years. Collectively, they should form a network. For Richmonders that want or need to use a bike for transportation, this network can give them safe ways to get to and from school, work, and errands around town.

Well over 100 people attended last week’s public meeting on the BMP. They got to look closely at the proposal and make comments -

What looks good in this plan?
What elements of plan need some tweaking to be functional?
What misses the mark?
& what should the city prioritize and get built soonest?

From working with a small group myself, and talking extensively with Jake Helmboldt, the city’s Bike, Pedestrian, and Trails Coordinator, the feedback spans that whole range. Here’s some of the takeaways -Packed House at Richmond's BMP Public Meeting

  • Overall, people are wicked excited to actually HAVE a plan. They can see the network coming to life on the page and they’re into it.
  • Some of the details of the BMP draft do need to be improved. That’s where public comment is so key. Everyone is an expert of their own neighborhood, more so than city staff or consultants.
  • One key theme heard was dissatisfaction with the overuse of shared-lane markings (“sharrows). People largely felt that sharrows are ineffective in protecting cyclists, and don’t do much to get more people bicycling.
  • Another key theme was that this plan seems more like a 5-year plan, not a 20-year plan. What’s drawn out in the BMP can and should be built out by 2020 and then updated later.

Good feedback, right? Want to add your own?

The city’s got a great site up, in collaboration with Alta Planning. You can view the plan and add comments as you go. You can also review the comments others have made so far and agree or disagree with them and add your own take to what’s been said.

My feedback?

Glad you asked. There’s a lot of great stuff in this plan! Like, a lot of really groundbreaking stuff. Since we’ve never had a BMP before, actually getting this plan together is precedent-setting, and some of the projects within it are too. But the single biggest change I’d like the city and their planners to make has to do with these Sharrows.

Sharrows Explained

Sharrows (on the left) can work on traffic-calmed streets. A bike lane (on the right) will work much better for our roads with 35mph car traffic.

Sharrows shouldn’t be a stand-alone treatment for Richmond’s roads. Instead, if they’re used, they should be coupled with additional traffic-calming measures to form a complete bike/walk street (or “bicycle boulevard”). They also should not be placed on any street over 35 mph. Those streets will do really well with protected lanes, so riders don’t have to feel like they’re mixed in with fast-moving traffic and drivers don’t have to slow down to a biker’s speed.

Agree or disagree? Cool – let it be known. The time is now to post your comments to the plan.