Bike lane construction causing parking headaches in Richmond

Bike lane construction causing parking headaches in Richmond
Source: NBC12

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Bike lane construction along Franklin Street downtown is causing some parking headaches for businesses and customers in the area.

Since April 11, people have not been able to park on the north side of Franklin Street, from Monroe Park to the Capitol. A two-way, protected bike lane is being installed.

Then there will be parking for cars, but on the outside of the bike lane. This will also reduce the street down to one lane of traffic.

During rush hour in the morning from 7 to 9 a.m., there will be no parking allowed, as usual.

The effort is part of an ongoing movement to make Richmond more cyclist-friendly. Twenty-five miles of bike lanes have already been created across the city. Another 25 miles of protected bike lanes (where cars can park in between the bike lane and traffic) are set for construction this year.

Right now, parking is not allowed as crews are constructing the bike lane, which will also have posts separating it from cars. Business owners say this is making parking tougher for employees and customers along the stretch.

"It's just been crazy. There's nowhere for any of our clients to park. It's a pain, if you have to leave during the middle of the day, to go do anything," said Jessica Bakken, who works along the stretch.

The bike lane on Franklin Street should be finished by the end of May, according to city officials.

The end to construction can't come soon enough for Helen Borgess, who works at a law firm on Franklin Street.

"It is frustrating," said Borgess.

Cars have to move 500 feet every two hours in the area. Helen says cars are getting slapped with parking tickets right and left.

"[Parking enforcement officers] know that that parking has been taken away, so now every two hours, they're coming out here and giving us tickets. I mean, we've gotten 40 citations in the last week-and-a-half," said Borgess.

A spokesperson for the Public Works Department says a crop of parking enforcement officers have just been hired, so it may appear as if the city is aggressively ticketing, when they're actually conducting training. The city says the department is already making some adjustments.

Once construction is finished, traffic along Franklin Street should, for most part, get back to normal - except with more cyclists expected on the road.

"I think you're going to see a big uptick in bicycle traffic as this network is built across the city," said Max Hepp-Buchanan of Sports Backers, which has advocated for a more cyclist-friendly city.

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