Bicycle advocates, and now a city council committee, want dedicated bike lanes added to the Hillsborough Street redesign that is currently under construction. Photo by Will Butler.
The Raleigh City Council’s public works committee members voted unanimously to support bike lanes for Hillsborough Street. If the plan gets final approval from council and the state Department of Transportation, there will be dedicated bike lanes along the section of the street fronting N.C. State University.
The plan has several hurdles to cross before it can become a reality. First, council will have to approve the proposal at its next meeting. Second, the proposal will have to go through the DOT, which maintains the street. According to Eric Lamb, with the city’s Public Works Department, the DOT has said previously that it prefers “sharrows” or shared lanes with markings to warn drivers to share the lane with bicycles.
Third, the plan will require an amendment to the recently adopted 2030 Comprehensive Plan. The plan amendment will require a neighborhood meeting and a public hearing, which could take more than a year.
A diagram of the proposed bicycle lanes for Hillsborough Street. Image courtesy the City of Raleigh Public Works Department.
According to city data, the Hillsborough Street renovation is ahead of schedule and under budget. District B councilor John Odom said during the meeting that if the city can keep the project on schedule and on budget and still put in the bike lanes, than there was no reason not to do it.
Lamb said the dedicated lanes would cost the city $40,000 to install.
“If we’re going to put bicycle lanes anywhere, then we should put them near the students,” Odom said, eliciting applause from the 18 bicycle advocates who showed up for Tuesday evening’s meeting.
Nina Szlosberg is a member of the Hillsborough Street Partnership, which pushed for the renovation for a decade, and on the state Board of Transportation. She attended the meeting to say that the partnership had no objections to bike lanes, as long as it didn’t slow down the project.
After the committee decided to move forward, Szlosberg said, “Just let me know how I can help get this done,” in reference to her work with the DOT.
Bonner Gaylord, who represents District E, joked about the long process ahead to approve the bike lanes: “We’re doing it as fast as bureaucratically possible.”
“Essentially we’re charting a course,” Gaylord said.