Leaders in the City of Williamsburg hope two recent initiatives will make the area a more bicycle-friendly community.
The city is installing new bike racks and bicycle lanes around Williamsburg to make cycling easier and safer throughout the city.
Planning Director Reed Nester updated the Williamsburg City Council on the two programs during the Council’s work session Monday. Nester said the city is in the process of installing 79 new bike racks, and plans to extend bicycle lanes the full length of Jamestown Road in the city.
Nester said cycling was an important activity in the Williamsburg area, as demonstrated by the city’s recognition as a bicycle-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists and the nearly 70 miles of bicycle lanes in the Historic Triangle – 11 of which are in the city.
The new racks would make cycling in the city safer by increasing the number of locations where cyclists could secure their bikes. The city has already installed 27 new racks, and plans to install an additional 52 as part of the program.
Many of those new racks are located in the downtown area, including spots around the Williamsburg Regional Library, Merchants Square, the Triangle Building and the Prince George Street parking garage. Other locations slated for new racks include more in Merchants Square, the future site of the Stryker Center on North Henry Street and along Prince George Street.
The city is directly covering the costs of 64 of the racks, while the other 15 are being paid for by the city’s new bike rack grant program. The program was inspired by Nester, who received a $5,000 prize from the Williamsburg Health Foundation and used it to inaugurate the grant program.
The Williamsburg Economic Development Authority also contributed $5,000 to the grant program, for a total fund of $10,000.
Under the program, businesses in Williamsburg can request up to three racks be installed at their location at a cost to the business of $25 per bike rack. The total cost of installing one bike rack is about $200, with the difference being covered by the bike rack fund.
Nester said 15 bike racks had been approved for installation through the fund, and enough money remained to fund about 25 more.
In addition to the bike racks, the city is also adding to its network of bike lanes on public streets.
Williamsburg currently has 11 miles of functional bike lanes throughout the city, including along Ironbound Road, Monticello Avenue, Strawberry Plains Road, John Tyler Lane and Jamestown Road.
The bike lanes along Jamestown Road are not continuous, with a gap between Ukrop Way and Landrum Drive and a number of different parking restrictions in effect for that stretch of road.
Nester said the city planned to add bike lanes in the gap on Jamestown Road and would adjust parking enforcement for that segment to allow uninterrupted cycling during the week. Parking for religious services on the weekend would still be allowed.
The bike racks and bike lane extensions are the latest bicycle-related initiative in Williamsburg. The traveling art exhibit Las Bicicletas, which depicts stylized bicycles and riders, has been on display in the city since May.
The city is also preparing to welcome cycling enthusiasts coming to Richmond for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships bicycle race.
Nester said the initiatives are positive developments for Williamsburg.
“Cycling is one of my passions,” Nester said. “It’s something I really like to do, and it’s really gratifying to see all of the improvements we’ve made in the Williamsburg area.”