Cyclists will soon have their own protected lanes for traversing the west side of downtown Raleigh between Glenwood South and the Warehouse District.
Next week, the city will begin creating two separated bike lanes, one headed northbound on West Street and the other southbound on Harrington Street. The lanes are the first of their kind in the city and come after years of planning and consideration.
The lanes will go from Martin Street, near Raleigh Union Station, to North Street near the bars and restaurants of Glenwood South. Eventually they’ll be extended north to Peace Street, after barricades and construction equipment for Kane Realty Corp.’s Smoky Hollow project have been cleared from the streets, said Paul Black, the city’s bike and pedestrian program manager.
Together, the lanes are referred to as the North-South Greenway Connector, because they will eventually connect to greenway trails that will enter downtown from the north and south. The exact route of the southern connection remains undecided, Black said, while the northern link will pass through a new park planned along the west side of Capital Boulevard, through the site of the former Devereux Meadow baseball park.
In the meantime, in addition to connecting the Warehouse District and Glenwood South, the bike lanes will run between two grocery stores — Weaver Street Market on Hargett Street and Publix off Peace.
It should take the city about a month to create the bike lanes. Most of the work entails painting buffer zones on the pavement and installing the flexible bollards or posts that will set the bike lanes off from cars. Construction will cost the city $200,000.
The lanes will mean the loss of about 105 parking spaces, mostly on West and Harrington streets, and the relocation of several loading zones, some to cross streets. Off-street parking should make up for what’s being lost, Black said.
“There is plenty of deck capacity in the corridor, so we were more concerned with loading zones which don’t have an alternative,” he wrote in an email. “We managed to relocate all but one of those.”
The work will begin Tuesday and take place in stages, block by block, starting on West Street. Both lanes should be finished by early October.
The separated lanes are a successor to the proposed West Street CycleTrack, a two-way street for cyclists that was to run along five blocks in the Warehouse District. The cycle track idea ran into trouble because of design challenges and because West may be used for one leg of the city’s planned bus rapid transit system.
Like the proposed cycle track, Black said, the separated bike lanes should help attract new riders to city streets.
“The 2016 BikeRaleigh Plan states that people of all ages and abilities should be able to bicycle comfortably and safely across Raleigh,” he said in a written statement. “Since many people feel unsafe riding with motor traffic, this new type of bike lane with physical separation between cars and bikes will help them feel comfortable riding to destinations in downtown.”
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