More Bike Lanes in Charlottesville?

Update 25 March 2010:

Charlottesville Tomorrow has an interesting story today – Planners propose commuter bike trail from Rivanna Station military base to downtown Charlottesville.

Area planners are developing plans for a commuter bike trail to connect the heart of Charlottesville with northern Albemarle County, and elements of the proposed route are already under construction.

“The goal is to provide a connection for both bicyclists and pedestrians that would extend all the way from downtown out to the area where the [National Ground Intelligence Center] is,” said Stephen Williams, executive of the director of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).

MPO staff are currently working with city and county planners on possible alignments for the trail, which would span between 10 and 15 miles according to MPO planner Sarah Eissler.

1 – How long would it take to ride?

2 – How many NGIC/DIA employees would be willing and able to take advantage of this?

3 – Great idea. We need more bike lanes. What about Pantops and Crozet?

4 – I don’t like to say “never” but this will likely never happen.

Building such a long trail is a laudable, bold goal. I’d love to see it happen there as well as to Pantops, Crozet, etc, … But it’ll never happen. This is why:

Some sections of the trail will depend on the future of other transportation projects. For instance, Williams said the alignment could follow the proposed extension of Berkmar Drive on the Western side of U.S. Route 29. That project, which would depend on contributions from private developers, is also currently in the conceptual stage.

In the City of Charlottesville, the commuter route would likely follow a proposed extension of the Schenk’s Greenway from the McIntire Recycling Center to Preston Avenue. That project, which is being administered by Albemarle County because it owns the property on which the new segment would be built, could get under way in a couple of years. If the county does not have funding to build it, the city could step in.

As I started on my Posterous:

Our region’s collective road/transportation building incompetence is legendary. These “future” roads will never be built, and planning around them is wasteful.

Please, prove me wrong.

Maybe.

Council commits additional funds to build more bike lanes

In February, Neighborhood Development Services Director Jim Tolbert told Council that there are very few opportunities to create additional bike lanes in Charlottesville without removing on-street parking or widening roads.

At the work session, Councilor Huja expressed his dissatisfaction.

“There are gaps in the network, and I think they need to be dealt with,” Huja said.

Tolbert said he would be bringing a proposal to Council this summer that would address the possibility of removing on-street parking and widening roads to increase the network of bike lanes.

Brown, an avid cyclist, said one road on which he would like to see bike lanes is Emmett Street, but he acknowledged doing so would cost money.

“There might be a plan that could accomplish [adding bike lanes] but it’s not a $25,000 project,” Brown said. The current year’s capital budget set aside that amount for “bicycle infrastructure” and the money was used in part to develop special signals to allow cyclists to trigger traffic lights.

Huja suggested putting aside money now in order to pay for those projects in the future.

“Symbolically, I think it is important to set aside some money to show our intent that we’re going to do something,” Huja said.

Council agreed to take $50,000 from a line item for “traffic improvements” to dedicate for additional bike lanes.

Charlottesville earned the “bronze” level of “bike friendly community” … what would it take to step that up to silver?

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood stood on top of a table to address the National Bicycle Summit last week, but he waited until a few days later to reveal on his blog a new federal approach in transportation priorities:

“Today, I want to announce a sea change. People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.

We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.”

Aren’t most roads at least a little bit federally-funded? If the federal government is going to tax us for bad behavior (tanning salons) why won’t they reward us for good behavior (commuting to and from work)? Or, they could choose to let people influence their own behavior

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