City leaders hope adding new bike lanes that are separated from traffic will encourage people who have safety concerns about bicycling through Raleigh to get out and ride.
The Raleigh City Council on Tuesday adopted an updated BikeRaleigh Plan that expands the city’s commitment to making two-wheeled transportation more accessible. Officials will host a public forum about the plan May 25 at the City of Raleigh Museum.
The plan sets a five-year goal to build 30 miles of well-marked bike lanes on low-traffic neighborhood streets and 10 miles of lanes separated from traffic by barriers such as concrete curbs or planters. It also aims to educate residents on how to safely navigate the city’s biking network.
“It is necessary for a lot of people to consider biking,” said Jason Myers, a transportation planner for Raleigh.
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The city will also add signs along bike paths that give riders distance estimates to destinations. They will replace current signs that feature looped routes.
Myers said some cities across the country have seen increased bike ridership with the installation of separated and neighborhood bike lanes. He hopes they will have the same impact in Raleigh.
Many of the city’s bike-friendly streets feature bike lanes or shared-lane markers directly next to traffic, which could deter novice riders.
Raleigh has already built about 19 miles of separated bike lanes that are not part of the greenway system, including a strip along Western Boulevard in front of Central Prison.
Since 2009, Raleigh has grown from 5 miles of bike lanes and 67 miles of greenway to 33 miles of bike lanes and 114 miles of greenway, according to a city report.
“As great as this progress is, there is still a lot of gaps,” Myers said.
Keeping residents informed
City Council member David Cox said he worried bike lanes might eliminate some on-street parking.
Councilwoman Kay Crowder echoed the parking concerns and also asked about the process to alert neighbors about new bike lanes being added to streets.
Myers said some residents were not informed when the city striped 27 miles of bike lanes last year. This time, he said, there is a plan in place to keep people better informed, including mailers and door-to-door visits.
“This basically tells us that we need to do that, and we’ve learned that lesson,” Myers said.
Focus on bikes
The BikeRaleigh Plan aims to increase community outreach through bicycle-themed events, training, safety programs at schools and an ongoing bike count.
Raleigh has been working on bike planning since the 1970s. Its 2009 comprehensive plan earned the city a bronze-level award from the League of American Bicyclists, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that recognizes communities with policies that foster good conditions for people to use bicycles.
City planners hope updates to the plan will push Raleigh into the silver level – something only 75 communities attained in the fall of 2015. They eventually want to earn gold- or platinum-level awards.
Adopting the bike plan update represents the counicl’s continued interest in Raleigh’s bike culture. Earlier this year, the council voted to adopt a bike rental program downtown and at five university campuses.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi
If you go
Raleigh will host a public forum about the updated BikeRaleigh Plan from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday May, 25, at the City of Raleigh Museum, 220 Fayetteville St., Raleigh.