'Protected' bike lanes added to downtown - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

'Protected' bike lanes added to downtown

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In hopes of cutting tension, the city is adding bike lanes on Broad Street from Aquarium Way to MLK. The road through downtown will drop from three lanes to two.  What used to serve as a third lane will become space for parallel parking, making room for cyclists like Kwame Miller to travel broad safely. 

“You don't have to ride on the sidewalk bumping into nobody, you have your own space just like the cars do,” said Blythe Bailey, Administrator, City of Chattanooga. 

The project began in 2013 when River City launched the City Center Plan. The purpose is to improve access downtown. City leaders believe better access means more cash for area businesses.

“One of the ways to do that in a downtown area where frankly space is scarce, parking is always an in issue is to provide access for all of the modes,” said Bailey.

But those who work in this area say better access may come with a price.

Daily deliveries create congestion downtown. These photos, sent to the Channel 3 newsroom, show how large delivery trucks block lanes, leaving business owners to worry what might happen with fewer lanes for cars. 

“I’m trying to be prepared for whatever happens. We didn't know they were going to be doing this until less than a week ago,” said Ben Connelly.

Ben Connelly owns vapor tonics on broad. He worries what the change could mean for his business. 

“It’s good they are making extra lanes, there is going to be construction, but it might hinder business,” said Connelly.

Growing pains he hopes will keep traffic flowing and invite the cyclist community to his doorstep. 

“It’s awesome that they are going to be adding a lane for bikes, there are plenty of bikes around here,’ said Connelly.

The bike lanes on broad should be finished by the middle of next month. The project costs $225,000. The city won a grant to put more bike lanes throughout other parts of the city.

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