Armed with a $1.1 million federal grant, city transportation officials want feedback on plans for 27 miles of new bike lanes scattered throughout Raleigh.
On Monday, they’ll launch a series of four meetings where cyclists and neighbors can vote on different designs for the bike lanes, which will be installed early next year on streets ranging from Ashe Avenue to Wakefield Pines Drive.
The federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement money only funds changes to pavement markings – not full-scale street widening for bike lanes – the city has to make some challenging choices. In most cases, making room for bikes will require the loss of traffic lanes or on-street parking spaces.
“There is some level of compromise, and it’s really up to the residents,” said Jennifer Baldwin, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator.
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Raleigh has made these trade-offs before. When the city added bike lanes to a section of Hillsborough Street east of N.C. State, some residents wanted parking on both sides of the street. In the end, they got parking on one side to allow for bike lanes as the street narrowed from five lanes to three.
Some streets might not have room for separated bike lanes, and they’ll instead get “sharrows” – arrows painted on the pavement to show cyclists where to safely ride with car traffic.
City officials selected 22 streets for the grant funding from a citywide priority list that’s based on factors like the level of bike traffic, bike crash rates and proximity to N.C. State University. The city is also working to create a network of bike lanes connecting North Raleigh to downtown. Streets that need to be widened before there’s room for bike lanes weren’t included in the 22 projects.
After this week’s sessions, Baldwin says the feedback will be used to finalize designs for public review in April. The bike lanes won’t show up untilspring of 2015.
“We really want people to give us their opinions,” she said. “This is going to be a long engaged process that’s going to go well into the summer.”