Scraping for scraps

Via A Fine New Guide for Transit Activists on the Human Transit blog:

US transit agencies are less powerful than they appear and are often not the source of the biggest problems. Much of what they do is defined by their poverty and by the great mass of regulations and labor contracts that form the boundaries of their world.

In Richmond, I know we want to blame GRTC for this, that, and the other, but here’s the reality: We’ll never have the humane and just transit system we deserve until the region starts paying for it.

Tied up

Originally published over on StreetsCred:

Earlier this week, a pedestrian was killed by a GRTC Pulse driver. From what I’ve heard (I’ve not and will not watch the video should it ever exist publicly), she got out of a car, attempted to cross the bus lane, but never looked for an oncoming bus. She died at the scene.

This awful incident is right at the center of two things I care about deeply, both personally and professionally: buses and pedestrian safety. That those two things, in this case, are in conflict makes me feel tied up on the inside. I had to bail on the second half of my day because the thought of writing regular transit emails or meeting with regular transit people was just too much; A woman on foot was killed by a bus, and it’s the top story on the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

I’ve been trying to figure out how I feel, other than tied up. I want to defend the bus, which police say had the right-of-way. I want to scream at the past 70 years of City leaders for allowing our biggest and best street to devolve into an inhumane, unsafe nightmare highway. I want to ask this woman, Alice Woodson, 32, why she didn’t look left before taking her last step. I want to know how to build a city where people can make catastrophic mistakes and not die as a result. I want to explain to folks reading the newspaper that car drivers are involved in nearly every serious injury on our streets—that it’s cars and bad design that make our streets unsafe.

I’ve also been trying to figure out what to do, other than sit with my tied-up feelings. Do we beg city staff, City Council, and the Mayor to study and analyze the video footage, figure out why this terrible thing happened, and change Broad Street to make sure it never happens again? Should we start a campaign to paint the bus-only lanes red, clearly marking space on the street where the rules change and folks should take extra caution? Or maybe I should stay tied up, out of respect, waiting until we inevitably forget about Alice and move on.

It’s a sad, shitty, and complicated situation, and it has really brought to the foreground the feeling of hopelessness I get when walking, biking, or taking transit in Richmond. The constant buzzing background of angry, aggressive drivers and busted, broken sidewalks and inconvenient bus schedules feels sharply in focus this week. We’ve come so far in the last five years—something I excitedly tell people on the regular—but, realistically, we’ve got unimaginably far to go before we can even begin to claim that our city is a safe place for people to get around.

I don’t know the specifics of this fatal crash, and I don’t know if all of the red paint and bollards and policy changes in the world would have prevented Alice’s death. But here are two things I do know: Buses are a critical part of Richmond’s future, and our city is full of dangerous streets. We’ve got such a long way to go before we can untie these two incompatible facts.

Ross’s list of good and great things to do, eat, and see in Richmond

Some folks I work with in NYC are visiting Richmond and asked me to put together a list of things to do, eat, and see while in town. Here is that list. Keep in mind that it’s for a bunch of urbanists from a real city, so, like, a lot of things that I think are good and fine didn’t make it on the list (see: the entirety of Scott’s Addition). Also, it’s focused on places you could get without a car, otherwise you’d see both Ronnie’s and La Milpa in the food section.

Food

  • Edo’s Squid — This is the best restaurant in Richmond. It’s Italian, but you should get the fish (the branzino is my favorite meal in town). Other suggestions: squid, white bean, and arugula salad; braised cabbage.
  • Charm School — Second best ice cream in town, but it is right next to the Arts District Pulse station.
  • Saison Market — Also adjacent to the Arts District Pulse station, it has the best local coffee, imho. You can also get a chicken biscuit there for breakfast that is kind of world-altering.
  • Sub Rosa — The first time I went to Sub Rosa it was because I had to pee (bus rider life), and I bought this date and cheese pinwheel pastry situation that was so good that I bought another one immediately.

Bars

  • Bamboo Cafe — The best bar in town, but it’s chill and for old people.
  • Ipanema Cafe — The bar of my youth! Plus a great spot for vegetarian lunch.
  • Cobra Cabana — The best new bar in town. It’s owned by metal dudes and is the only place you can get High Life on tap.
  • Triple Crossing — My favorite brewery with both a Downtown and a kind-of-far away location. They easily make the best beer in Richmond.

Urbanism things

  • T. Tyler Potterfield Bridge — This is our literal best thing! It’s a bike/ped bridge that stretches across the river and gives you some amazing views of the skyline.
  • The Pipeline — We have this weird pipe that at some point we converted into a trail that you can walk on. It’s bizarre and awesome and makes you feel like you aren’t in the middle of a medium-sized Southern city.
  • Capital Trail — A separated, paved trail that runs from Downtown to Williamsburg. It’s awesome for bikes, but since you won’t have a bike you could ride a scooter out that way to the Stone Brewing brewery and grab a beer.
  • Franklin Street bike lane — Idk, this is our best bike lane, but you have, like, real bike lanes. This is all we’ve got!

Normal people things

  • Maymont — Once upon a time we had a rich family who owned a ton of land in the City and now it is this huge park with some weird stuff in it like bears and a Japanese garden.
  • The VMFA — This is our state art museum, and it punches above its weight. You’ve seen better museums for sure, but it’s free and air conditioned.
  • Carytown — Our cute shopping district that should be pedestrian-only, but no one is brave enough to just do it.

Elect people who ride the bus

Via Cap'n Transit Rides Again:

My top two strategies to get transit built are to focus on the potential for glamorous ribbon cuttings, and to get people elected who commute by transit, and who care about transit commutes. Decision makers are not interested in cost figures for their own sake, and neither am I.

I don't think a single elected Richmonder commutes by anything other than car. In fact, I'd love to know how far down in the City's org chart you have to go before you get to someone who—even occasionally—walks, bikes, or takes the bus to work.

To get more money for more walking, biking, and transit projects we've got to elect people who do those things.

Get to the stuff!

Via Manton Reece

This is so dang true. I've already spent so many minutes wading through intros of Apple Arcade games waiting to figure out what kind of game I'm actually playing.

The best Apple Arcade games start with gameplay nearly right away, realizing they are mobile games first.