Mark your calendars and set your alarms: construction on the Broadway bike lane is set to begin on Oct. 7.
The bike lane along South Broadway will provide a missing link for cyclists looking for a safe north-south route through their neighborhood and downtown. It’ll be a continuous lane protected by parked cars and curbs, running between 7th and Center avenues. The project also aims to improve safety for pedestrians, with curb and sidewalk repairs, better access to bus stops and areas identified for future public art.
It’s been a long time coming.
In 2015, the city built a pilot lane on South Broadway, stretching five blocks but disconnected from other bike infrastructure. After delays, construction to build out the rest was scheduled to start in 2018, but a reorganization of public works, fundraising, time to obtain private property and the need for a competitive bidding process for contractors slowed down the $12 million project.
Plus, the bike lane faced pushback from some local business owners, who worry about the lane taking away parking spaces and leading to less business.
The end is in sight — or more like 12 to 18 months away.
Casey Roberts lives in the neighborhood and works downtown, and said the new lane will significantly improve her commute. Currently, she takes a detour down Sherman Street and has to cross difficult intersections. Plus, she cycles around the neighborhood with her seven-year-old son.
“It’s basically been impossible to bike around Broadway, despite it being such a great place to go hang out,” she said. “Especially with my son, I don’t feel safe riding up Sherman (Street) with him, and so we just don’t do things that we would do otherwise… I’m super excited they’re finally getting going.”
James Warren doesn’t own a car so he uses his bike when he wants to shop along Broadway.
“I’m a very very competent cyclist, I am very okay riding on most roads, I am not comfortable riding on Broadway,” he said. “You miss the option to stop into a restaurant or maybe a shop that appeals to you that you hadn’t seen before.”
Adam Estroff has lived in the area for 10 years and is also excited about easier access to local businesses, particularly Cosmo’s Pizza and Underground Music Showcase.
Still, he’s not happy that the project has taken so long to complete. He cited the delay as one of the drives behind his campaign for City Council in District 7, which includes the to-be bike lane.
“Stuff like this is kind of one of the things that motivated me to run, there are actually a lot of projects that just take ridiculously too long,” Estroff said. “I think it creates this perception that the city can’t do anything, and I think that really hurts us.”
Estroff pointed to the I-70 construction as a reason why some feel the city prioritizes car infrastructure over pedestrian and cyclist planning. The I-70 project involved demolishing local houses, taking down the viaduct, lowering and widening the highway and building a public park. Construction on I-70 started in 2018 and is set to finish later this fall.
With the bike lane construction finally starting, people should expect construction from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, with various lane and shoulder closures along South Broadway throughout the year. Construction on the east side of the street, from 7th to Center avenues, will take place from the fall through the winter, followed by work on the west side of that same stretch from the spring through the summer. Final landscaping will happen in fall of 2023.