Raleigh squeezing in new bike lanes

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- For years, bicyclists in the City of Oaks have asking for more room on roads and now they're getting it. Downtown Raleigh is paving the way for bike lanes on some of the city's busiest streets.

Bike lanes are being added to a few spots:

  • Wilmington Street from MLK Boulevard up to Peace Street.

  • Salisbury Street between East Lane Street to West Lenoir Street.

  • Hillsborough Street from Morgan Street to the State Capital.

"People are asking us constantly for alternative forms of transportation so adding infrastructure is one of the ways in which we facilitate people," said Raleigh Transportation Planning Manager Eric Lamb.

The city will be squeezing the bike lanes onto some streets without widening them, and that's something some drivers and cyclists say could be dangerous.

"It may be a little challenging during the busy hours," said Mary Margaret Barnes.

"It is pretty tight around in Raleigh right now with the construction work going on," said Annette Britton.

David Zell works at Oak City Cycling Project. He has friends who were injured while cycling.

"There's a lot of cyclists who have been doored by vehicles," he said - referring to a biker hitting a car door that someone opens in front of them.

Zell says the configuration is not ideal, but a step in the right direction.

"I think it's a great thing for our city, especially if they're going to continue that corridor, but there's also a lot of discrepancy about the width of those lanes," said Zell.

The bike lane on Wilmington Street, for instance, will only be five feet wide. That's vastly smaller than lanes in the city's suburbs.

That kind of space is a luxury downtown. The city says they're just trying to work with what they have.

"A bike lane wasn't a factor when the city was originally laid out in the late 1700s. So now we're going back in and retrofitting these streets. It can be a challenge," said Lamb.

The city says the work will be done by the New Year.
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