Mayor Dwight C. Jones held a public forum Monday night at Byrd Park for citizens to share ideas to make the city more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly.
The Pedestrian, Bicycling and Trails Planning Commission presented recommendations to Jones and the community about how to accomplish what they consider a serious safety concern.
“When I became mayor and visited other cities that had a real pedestrian-friendly atmosphere — biking paths, walking paths, accessibility to natural resources — I was determined that we were going to do that here in Richmond,” Jones said.
Amy George, who works in the Office of the Assessor of Real Estate for the city, followed Mayor Jones’ plan of action by raising awareness of the danger bikers and pedestrians have experienced in Richmond. According to her research, from 2004 to mid-2010, 196 accidents occurred involving pedestrians in the area.
Four other presentations were given, each highlighting ways to implement pedestrian safety with public policy and legislation, outreach and education, infrastructure and physical design, and economic development.
Suggestions included developing “complete streets,” which would provide designated areas for automobiles, bikers, and pedestrians. Another idea was to put a striped line in parking lanes to make drivers and bikers feel safer.
Popular ideas among the audience were creating a full-time position for bike, pedestrian and trail coordinator. The position would ensure that the recommendations would actually be implemented, and new ideas would constantly be developed.
The citizens at the forum were also supportive of the “Live Here, Bike Here” campaign, which Mayor Jones created. It would focus on attracting tourists to the area, beautifying bike and walking trails, and connecting popular Richmond sites, including Maymont, Byrd Park, VCU and Carytown, to each other with bike routes.
Roads on the VCU Monroe Park Campus were on the priority list of roads to improve first, including Broad, Main, Harrison, Grace, Cary and Belvidere streets.
Monet Pringle, a junior and accountant major, said she wouldn’t dare ride a bike on campus. “I’m too nervous about getting hit,” Pringle said.
Carolyn Graham, the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Richmond City human services, said she thinks the recommendations made were mostly low key, and could be done in a relatively short time span. “I’d love to see the safety pieces, marking pieces, and the signage, and the sidewalks cut properly, so that persons with disabilities and bikers can have an ease of access to the sidewalks,” Graham said.
The commission had citizens vote on which recommendations they thought were most beneficial, realistic and logical for pedestrian safety. For updates on the development of pedestrian safety in Richmond, visit www.richmondgov.com.