Proposals to block a Northside bike lane from being installed and to rename a major arterial road in the city are on their way to Richmond City Council.
The city’s Land Use, Housing and Transportation Standing Committee convened Tuesday and sent two ordinances to council without recommendation: one that would block a planned bike lane along a stretch of Brook Road, and another that would rename the Boulevard after tennis legend and Richmond native Arthur Ashe.
The planned 3.5-mile bike lane would run along Brook Road from its intersections with Azalea Avenue and West Charity Street. The project also would involve converting one of the road’s travel lanes to a floating parking lane to divide cyclists from vehicular traffic. Council members Chris Hilbert and Kim Gray co-wrote the paper opposing the project last June.
About 60 people were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting, with four speaking in favor of the bike lane ban and six against.
A member of the Edgehill-Chamberlayne Court Civic Association spoke in favor of the ban, saying that it is “traumatizing to think of floating parking lanes” and the lanes are “not something we’ll get accustomed to.”
Louise Lockett of Bike Walk RVA, an advocacy arm of local nonprofit Sports Backers, spoke against the ban. Lockett said stopping the project would jeopardize future bike lanes in the city, arguing that VDOT is less likely to provide grant funding to localities that have rejected similar projects after receiving funding for them.
The committee voted to send the ordinance to council without recommendation, as it did in November with an ordinance to allow dockless scooters to operate legally in Richmond.
The committee, which is made up of Gray and fellow council members Michael Jones and Ellen Robertson, also punted on an ordinance that would rename the Boulevard as Arthur Ashe Boulevard, sending the paper to council without a recommendation.
Gray first introduced the renaming proposal last fall on behalf of a nephew of Ashe.
Council is scheduled to vote on both ordinances next week at its Jan. 28 meeting.
The committee also was shown presentations on state-designated Opportunity Zones and the city’s bike share program.
Jakob Helmboldt, the city’s pedestrian, bicycle and trails coordinator, said the bike share program’s next phase, which doubles the city’s fleet with 20 additional stations and 220 more bikes, is scheduled to be completed in late summer 2019. Helmboldt said bikes and stations are being outfitted to convert the fleet to electric-assist models by May.