There’s a new push for protected bike lanes across Uptown

There’s a new push for protected bike lanes across Uptown
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There’s a lot of momentum around biking in Charlotte.

Our city has a passionate biking community, and Charlotte has been rapidly expanding the greenway network. The crown jewel will be the Cross Charlotte Trail, 26 miles of greenway that will get you from Pineville to Cabarrus County.

Cross Charlotte Trail map

But once you get Uptown, you’re stuck.

Sure, people do bike to work Uptown, but it’s not particularly easy. Uptown is home to a large concentration of Charlotte’s most dangerous intersections.

Jordan Moore, the bicycle program director of Sustain Charlotte, is behind a movement to get the city to commit to protected bike lanes across Uptown — and he’s got a pretty convincing argument.

Protected lanes give people a lot more comfort in traveling by bike and some cities that have tried it have had a huge increase in the percentage of people commuting that way.

Cyclists riding a mini chalk course at Open Streets 704

Cyclists riding a mini chalk course at Open Streets 704

Here’s the proposal: Create a link between greenways on the east and west sides of Uptown.

It would run from the Irwin Creek/Stewart Creek greenways on the west to the Little Sugar Creek greenway on the east. Jordan’s not picky about what exact path to take.

protected-bike-lane-path

This would link some large residential areas like Cherry, Plaza Midwood and West End to Uptown and make commuting an actual possibility.

City council members have expressed their support, but not committed money to building the project. The council is preparing to spend money to study a potential path.

What’s a protected bike lane anyway?

Looks something like this. Basically it physically sets aside space for cyclists with a barrier.

Boston-bike-lane

It’s not very maintain and doesn’t have to be super elaborate. Sustain Charlotte created the protected lane you see in the top picture out of hay bales and color dust for Open Streets 704 this month. Obviously a permanent option would be a bigger investment.

Photo by Ben Premeaux

Photo by Ben Premeaux

A lot of other cities are thinking about this.

Chattanooga, for example, has put up several miles of protected bike lanes in its central business district.

San Diego is also about to vote on a plan to spend $64 million on a big bike strategy.

Image via the Downtown San Diego Mobility Plan

Image via the Downtown San Diego Mobility Plan

There’s a petition to support this in Charlotte.

Here’s the link. It has more than 1,000 signatures so far.

Cover photo by Ben Premeaux

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