May 22, 2015
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Plans to install numerous traffic-calming measures in the Iron Triangle and other improvements to create friendlier, cleaner and more colorful streets for pedestrians and cyclists gained unanimous support from the Richmond City Council on Tuesday.

We’ve written before about the unique exercise in urban planning called “Yellow Brick Road,” a theme first considered by a group of Iron Triangle youths during a summer project in 2008. Their idea to stencil yellow bricks on the ground connecting families to schools, churches, parks and cultural institutions led to a Caltrans planning grant and the staging of a live, full-scale preview of street improvements based upon community input.

Now the city is pursuing a $7 million Caltrans grant to begin improvements on some of the project’s key elements.

On Tuesday, the council supported the plan by allowing its proposed changes to be incorporated into the city’s existing Pedestrian Plan.

ybr.5-21-1The Yellow Brick Road’s purpose is to create safe walkable and cycling corridors connecting neighborhood spots like Peres Elementary, Elm Play Lot, Lincoln Elementary, Richmond Greenway and BART.

From 2007 to 2012, 68 collisions between bicyclists and vehicles were reported in the neighborhood, and residents have decried the unsafe conditions.

The Yellow Brick Road’s plan for those corridors include improved crosswalks and sidewalks with safety enhancements, additional bus shelters and trash cans, traffic calming measures and decorative additions such as yellow-brick crosswalks, art projects, wayfinding signs, landscaping and lighting. See a detailed list of proposals in this report.

If the project wins the $7 million Caltrans grant, improvements can begin on routes deemed high-priority. They include pedestrian crossing improvements and green bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue; sidewalk gap closures and crosswalk improvements at 7th Street; the installation of a roundabout to slow traffic at 7th and Elm Avenue and a traffic circle at Elm and 8th for the same purpose.

livingpreview.5-21Other high-priority projects identified in the plan include the creation of a bicycle boulevard on 8th Street between Lincoln Avenue and the Richmond Greenway; bicycle improvements on 16th Street between BART and the Greenway; and Greenway crossing improvements between 2nd and 20th streets.

The ideas were born from a community effort. Toody Maher, founder and executive of the local nonprofit Pogo Park, had about 30 Iron Triangle residents from children to grandparents walk every last street in the neighborhood over a 14-day period. Residents documented barriers to walkability, efforts which helped the project earn a Caltrans grant for the development of the Yellow Brick Road plan.

The plan was formed in partnership with Pogo Park, the city, and transportation consultants Fehr & Peers.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.