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May 24, 2012

Progress on bike infrastructure discussed

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DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, May 24, 2012

The woman responsible for implementing new infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians thanked the City Council recently for its commitment to improving safety.
“We’re very fortunate to have the political will, community support and additional staff resources dedicated to this important issue,” Amanda Poncy, the city’s bike and pedestrian coordinator, said at Monday’s council meeting.
Source: City of Charlottesville
As part of Bike Month, Poncy briefed councilors on progress made since 2003, when the city adopted a bicycle and pedestrian master plan in order to support its Comprehensive Plan goal of reducing single-occupancy commuting from 61 percent to 50 percent.
Poncy said about 30 percent of on-street projects called for in the 2003 plan have been completed. However, she said only 5 percent to 10 percent of off-street projects have been completed.
Earlier this month, the League of American Cyclists raised the city’s bike-friendly status from bronze to silver in part because of additional investment.
Mayor Satyendra Huja said he wants the city to emulate places such as Portland, Ore., by dramatically increasing options for bicyclists.
“We need to build something and not just talk about it,” Huja said. “We need to construct [more] bike lanes.”
Poncy said the city’s bike safety committee and the group Bike Charlottesville have prioritized projects for the next two years.
These include $6,000 for intersection improvements at University Avenue and McCormick Road to make it easier for cyclists to turn left; $4,000 for paving to add connectivity to Rose Hill Drive; and at least $25,000 for improvements on Monticello Avenue. That road is listed as a section of U.S. Bicycle Route 76.
Other projects include more bike racks, bike repair stations and signage to make it easier for cyclists to know which roads contain bike lanes. There also will be a $25,000 feasibility study to determine how biking could be made safer on Emmet Street north of the University of Virginia.
“In addition to these specific improvements, there is interest in developing a connected system of low-speed, low-volume residential streets that would facilitate bicycle and pedestrian travel,” Poncy said.
Source: City of Charlottesville
These would be known as neighborhood greenways. The city is in the process of creating its first neighborhood greenway on Sixth Street Southeast.
“This includes a ‘contraflow lane’ … in the previously one-way section of Sixth Street Southeast,” Poncy said.
That means cyclists have a dedicated lane that travels against the flow of one-way vehicular traffic.
Councilor Kristin Szakos said that the Sixth Street Southeast contraflow makes sense on paper, but that more education is needed to explain how it works.
“It’s a cool idea, and it would be great if people didn’t have a negative reaction on first hitting it because they can’t figure it out,” Szakos said.
Poncy said signage will be installed.
Councilor Dede Smith asked if more bike trails could be built on top of abandoned railroad lines, suggesting the tracks that cross Preston Avenue next to Bodo’s Bagels as a possibility.
Gensic said that spur is used several times a year to make deliveries to Southern States.
“That spur used to go all the way to Rio Road and they straightened it,” Gensic said. “In effect, the multi-use trail on the Meadow Creek Parkway project is right on top of the old railroad bed.”
Upcoming events for Bike Month include a children’s Bike Rodeo on Sunday.


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