About Richmond Street

The folks here at the Greater Grand Rapids been monitoring the controversy around the removal of bike lanes from Richmond Street in the northwest sector of Grand Rapids. In case you missed it, here are the articles published on Mlive:

    MLive Article

    Mlive editorial opinion about the controversy:

We decided to take a deep breath and look at this matter from a higher altitude.

Here is what we know:

Richmond is an important bike route because it provides good continuity, from Scribner Avenue near the Grand River on the east all the way to the west city limits. The City has already installed bike lanes on several segments, and shared lane markings (“sharrows”) complete the connection where the street configuration is too constricted for lanes. It is a good alternative to other east/west streets that carry a heavier volume of vehicle traffic.

Having good bike lanes on Richmond is a great asset to cyclists who live in the Oakleigh neighborhood and to those who would pass through, whether they are on their way to work, to school, to the store or for recreation. Richmond leads to the City of Walker, where both the continuation of Richmond and the northerly turn onto Elmridge are both very bikeable (although they are without designated lanes). Like other streets where a bike lane is interrupted because of a conflict in adjacent land use (residential street parking or a business district with on-street parking being the more common situations), some segments are better than others.  Over time, we hope to see improvement to quantity and quality of the bike facilities, not back-sliding.

The City of Grand Rapids has been adroit at adding over 70 miles of on-street bike facilities without substantial interference to traffic flow. In fact, many of the streets where bike lanes have been installed are safer now for both cars and bikes. We celebrate each successful project and remain thankful for each improvement that makes the city safer for motorists and cyclists alike.

Here is what happened:

  • The removal of bike lanes was an overreaction to a complaint about the installation of new bike lanes, in several ways:
  • The bike lanes were removed hastily, without considering other alternatives.
  • The lane was removed from the south side of the street, even though it did not conflict with on-street parking.
  • On the north side, the lane was removed farther east and west than was necessary to accomplish the goal of reestablishing on-street parking for an adjacent user.
  • The comment sections of Mlive, Wood-TV and Facebook have agitated the relationship between cyclists and motorists.

Let's move forward:

So, our view is that the Richmond situation is an opportunity to move forward build on past success.  It's less about whether or not a few-hundred feet of bike lanes should or shouldn't be on a particular street, and more about how to continue the improve on what we have.

  • Let’s emphasize communication over enforcement. Could a protocol be established for the City to issue a notice rather than a ticket during the initial period of adjustment?
  • Let’s not over-react. Conflicts like this will arise. Let’s discuss it civil manner. Could the removal could have implemented in a less radical way and still address the parking concerns? Should some segments be reinstalled?
  • Let’s find a balance. The City’s Vital Streets Planning Process that is now underway is designed to do just that. The GGRBC is privileged to be at the table representing cyclists in a process that is designed to set priorities and improve the city for motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and transit through efficient allocation of resources.
  • Let’s improve education. Grand Rapids was slow to adopt a bike-friendly attitude, but has now installed a lot of infrastructure in a short period of time. Education for both motorists and cyclists is needed to help them understand the safety and economic benefits of bike facilities. 


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