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A new initiative hopes to improve conditions for bicycle riders across the City of Williamsburg.
The Williamsburg Economic Development Authority approved a plan to fund the installation of bike racks throughout the city, allowing cyclists to leave their rides unattended without fear of theft.
The new program will cover the cost of installing 50 bike racks throughout Williamsburg.
The funding for the $10,000 program came from a $5,000 donation from Planning Director Reed Nester and a $5,000 matching appropriation from the EDA.
Nester, an avid cyclist, received a $5,000 stipend from the Williamsburg Health Foundation for his efforts to improve the health of the Williamsburg community, for use on a “worthy project.”
The combined funds will allow for the installation of about 50 bike racks across the city. The program will cover the total cost of installing bike racks on city-owned property and some of the expenses to install the racks on private property in the city, especially businesses.
“You can see over next year we’ll make a big difference in [bicycle accessibility],” Nester said.
The gray racks consist of a single post with a circular loop near the top, allowing multiple bikes to attach chains and ward off theft. Nester said they come in two varieties: a flinch mount, which attaches the post to the ground with screws, or a post mount, which embeds the post into the ground.
Businesses interested in having a bike rack must apply for the city to provide one, with the business providing $25 of the rack’s total cost of $200. Businesses could receive a maximum of three racks, and be required to pay the $25 fee for each one installed.
Economic Development Director Michele DeWitt said the program would increase safety and accessibility for cyclists, but could also be an economic boon for Williamsburg, given their success in other cities.
“Richmond has a bike rack program that doesn’t charge any money,” she said. “Businesses that had bike racks installed have seen an increase, so that speaks well of their economic impact.”
Although the EDA unanimously approved the program, members added caveats to the original resolution to clarify its scope.
EDA member Bill Carr emphasized that bike racks installed on private property would be owned by the recipient, and should be maintained as such. He also said the $25 fee should be nonrefundable should the businesses eventually wish to have the rack removed.
If a rack is removed, Economic Development Director Michele DeWitt said ownership would revert to the city.
Carr said the city should also confer with James City County and York County to explore the possibility of standardizing the style of bike racks in the three localities in the area around the city, especially along the Richmond Road corridor.