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Residents of Richmond’s Northside are upset over removal of traffic calming “bump-outs” without public input

before after images of removed sidewalk extensions
These comparison photos show what the curb extensions looked like (left) and how the road looks as they were removed (right). (Photo: Wyatt Gordon)

Some people in Richmond’s Northside neighborhood are upset about the removal of several traffic calming measures known as “bump-outs.” The sidewalk attachments on Brookland Park Boulevard were also put in  to beautify parts of the business corridor.

“Traffic was flying through that area. You couldn’t cross the street safely,” said Karen Link, a member of several community organizations including the Historical Brookland Park Collective. “Walkability is something that we are pursuing. We want to encourage people to get out of their houses and walk down there and visit the businesses so we can be more vibrant.”

Bump-outs, which extend sidewalks at intersections, help people cross the street safely. Link said many residents were upset they were removed quickly, without public input.

Residents in the area will get a chance to speak up about the removal at an already planned meeting at Richmond’s Police Training Academy near Virginia Union University on Thursday night. The meeting was slated to address creating small green spaces in parking spots — known as “parklets” — on a busy road in the neighborhood but will instead focus on the removal.

The neighborhood is part of City Councilmember Ann-Frances Lambert’s district. VPM reached out for comment but didn’t hear back by air time. 

In an email to VPM, Link said the bump-outs, which are on Brookland Park Boulevard between North Avenue and Hanes Avenue, did not seem to get approval through the city’s Urban Design Committee. She said the project isn’t listed in the city’s Richmond 300 plan, which is a long-range plan to, in part, design safer streets.

Parking not an issue

Link said parking along Brookland is limited and that the bump-outs were in spots that already had no parking signs. She added, however, that many people would briefly park there anyway.

“The boulevard on both sides is riddled with no parking, no parking, no parking. So there literally was no place to park,” Link said. “So I think when they designed the bump-outs they did take into consideration that we could put them where there were handicap ramps or fire hydrants. They tried to be considerate of the parking spaces that were already there. We didn’t want to lose any.”

Only three or four spaces were lost, Link said. But despite many businesses approving of the traffic calming measures — especially the proposed parklet set to go in front of Ms. Bee’s Juice Bar — she’s heard that some business owners started a petition to remove them all. She wonders if that’s what prompted such a quick removal of the bump-outs.

Thursday’s meeting is from 6:30 to 8 at the Richmond Police Training Academy.

Ian M. Stewart is the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.