With repaving scheduled for Richmond Road this spring, the City of Williamsburg is exploring the possibility of creating bike lanes when it restripes a portion of the road in the downtown area.
City Planning Director Reed Nester presented a preliminary plan for creating bike lanes on Richmond Road from College Corner – the intersection of Richmond Road, Jamestown Road and North Boundary Street – to Brooks Street, where the Arts District begins, at City Council’s work session Monday.
“I think the idea is to try to come up with a dedicated space for cyclists,” Nester said in an interview with WYDaily. “In this case, it’s bike lanes for safe riding. I think some of the thought is also that having the safe space will also encourage cycling in the downtown area.”
Creating a more bike-friendly community is seen as an economic benefit for the city, as well as one piece to having a “complete transportation system” that will make travel safer for both cyclists and drivers by offering a designated space for each, Nester said.
Under the proposed plan, portions of the bike lanes would be weekday only to allow for weekend parking. The plan also calls for the elimination of 21 on-street parking spaces of the 90 currently available in that stretch of Richmond Road to accommodate a safe distance between parked cars and the bike lanes.
The proposal also includes the relocation of one crosswalk – the one near Wawa would move to the western part of Richmond Road’s intersection with Dawson Circle – and the elimination of the center turn lane between Brooks and Dillard streets.
Though City Council does not need to approve the plan – City Manager Marvin Collins has final say on how roads are striped – Nester offered the summary to both keep council informed and elicit any feedback.
City Council members were generally supportive of the proposal, but did question whether eliminating the center turn lane between Brooks and Dillard streets would worsen congestion in that area.
While also hesitant about eliminating 21 on-street parking spaces, members said they want to see whether the forthcoming downtown parking study helps to address that concern.
The downtown parking study is set to launch later this month, and the city plans to inform its recently hired consulting firm of the draft proposal. Walker Parking Consultants will be expected to keep the draft in consideration as it works with stakeholders – business owners, residents, the College of William & Mary, Colonial Williamsburg – and prepares the report, which should be released to the public in late June.
Repaving throughout the city will likely happen in May and June, with restriping scheduled within a similar time frame. Nester said the city will work to coordinate its decision regarding the bike lanes with the study’s timeline.
The Richmond Road proposal was inspired by the transformation of Jamestown Road in the last few months, Nester said. When the city had to unexpectedly repave Jamestown Road last year because of the damage from severe winter weather, the city added bike lanes where a gap existed between Ukrop Way and Landrum Drive as part of the restriping process.
Like the Richmond Road proposal, portions of the bike lanes along Jamestown Road are available only on weekdays to accommodate for weekend parking.
“I think we’ve seen on Jamestown Road that it can work,” Mayor Clyde Haulman said of the weekday-only bike lanes during Monday’s meeting. “Richmond Road might be a little more complex but you’ve shown us there are ways to think about it.”
The downtown area of Richmond Road – between College Corner and Brooks Street – is scheduled for repaving later this year, and the city is looking to seize the opportunity in order to make the downtown area even more bike friendly.
“This is the one chance we will have in the next 10 years to try to put bike lanes in this stretch because once it’s repaved it needs to be restriped,” Nester said. “This, I think, is a workable plan to establish bike lanes in this important corridor.”