City leaders are thinking about ways Raleigh could become more welcoming to bicyclists.
The city is updating its bicycle plan, which was crafted in 2009 partly as a way to identify needed changes to get people pedaling.
Back then, Raleigh had 4 miles of striped bike lanes, only on Ridge Road and Edwards Mill Road, said Eric Lamb, the city’s transportation planning manager.
By the end of this summer, Lamb said, Raleigh will have more than 50 miles of bike lanes, spread throughout the city.
But Lamb said Raleigh can still make improvements to make it easier for people to choose bikes as a mode of transportation.
“There’s still plenty of things we can do,” he said.
The city will pay consultants $75,000 to help update the plan.
Raleigh leaders and consultants will assess what has already been done, and what could happen in the future. Then they will host public meetings to gather feedback from residents, Lamb said.
Some changes are already in the works, including the addition of bike lanes.
Lamb said some of the biggest projects are downtown. This summer, the city is set to create bike lanes on Salisbury and Wilmington streets.
Meanwhile, Hillsborough Street will get a “road diet” from the State Capitol to St. Mary’s Street. Travel lanes will be reduced, with a center turn lane, to make way for bike lanes on both sides of the street.
For the first time, Raleigh will use green paint to mark the lanes in intersections, Lamb said.
In some hilly areas of the city, he said, a dedicated bike lane will go uphill, while bicyclists will share a lane with vehicle traffic downhill. That’s a strategy city leaders have seen in Asheville.
Recently, the city installed two bike-repair stations, along the Neuse River Greenway and also downtown on Hargett Street at Marbles Kids Museum.
As part of the 2009 plan, Raleigh hired a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator and established the city’s first bicycle and pedestrian advisory commission.
Since the plan was put in place, Raleigh was designated as a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. Now city leaders have their eyes on the silver status, Lamb said.
“Ultimately, the goal is to become a more bike-friendly city,” he said.
The city has created the BikeRaleigh program as a branding tool. Leaders have also considered ways to make it easier for people to bike across the city without Raleigh having to spend a lot of money.
Bike lanes are sometimes built into road construction projects at “virtually no financial cost,” Lamb said. When Sandy Forks and Buck Jones roads got upgrades, for example, they also got bike lanes.
Northwest Raleigh plan
This month, the city wants to gather input from residents about a plan to add bike lanes on three northwest Raleigh streets: Westgate, Lumley and Ebenezer Church roads.
A public meeting is set for Thursday, July 9, at the Lake Lynn Community Center.
The northwest Raleigh plan isn’t part of the city’s larger bike efforts. A total of $2.2 million for the project is earmarked partly from a bond voters approved in 2011, said Sylvester Percival, a project manager for the city’s public works department.
The project could include bike lanes, multi-use asphalt paths or extended sidewalks, Percival said. It could also be incorporated on U.S. 70.
“What we’re trying to do is gather enough information as we determine is needed,” he said.
The idea is to provide an opportunity for people who live in northwest Raleigh to get out on their bikes. But Percival said the area could draw other cyclists who don’t live in the area, especially as the city focuses on creating better bike-lane connections.
Lamb said Raleigh wants to hear about residents’ highest priorities for the area.
“We want to make sure … that we’re getting it right for the public,” he said.
If you go
Raleigh will host a public meeting about the Northwest Raleigh Bicycle Corridors Study from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 9, at the Lake Lynn Community Center, 7921 Ray Road. For details, call 919-996-3030.
The city will also host two upcoming meetings to gather input about an update to the bicycle plan:
▪ 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 9, at the Alexander Family YMCA, 1603 Hillsborough St., Raleigh
▪ 5 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 13, at John Chavis Memorial Park, 505 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Raleigh