ARLINGTON -- A week after city officials backpedaled on how many miles of lanes would be available for on-street bike routes, the latest version of the hike-and-bike master plan reinstates some of those lanes but still focuses on off-street paths for cyclists.
On Tuesday, a City Council subcommittee supported the newest version, which recommends designating 61 lane miles of city streets for bicycles -- 20 more than what was suggested last week but about 100 miles less than originally proposed.
The on-street routes are a mix of bike lanes, which are specially striped lanes on the outer edges for cyclists only, and bike routes, which are normal traffic lanes that will feature markings and signs warning motorists that they are sharing the road.
"We are making it safer for bikers on the street," said Councilwoman Kathryn Wilemon, a member of the subcommittee. "Every day I see more and more. It's definitely here. We've got to incorporate it into our street system and connectivity to our parks."
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The new proposal, which is expected to go before the council Tuesday, calls for $250,000 to designate on-street bicycle lanes and recommended routes, $38 million to build off-street hike-and-bike trails and $15 million to fill in gaps in the city's sidewalk network.
If approved, the projects are expected to be built over 30 to 40 years as roadways are expanded or rebuilt and funding becomes available, officials said. The initial hike-and-bike plan was projected to cost $87.6 million; the new version is $52.8 million.
The proposed on-street bicycle lanes are concentrated downtown, around the University of Texas at Arlington and near Lake Arlington.
Councilman Robert Shepard, who headed the subcommittee, said that, as a bike rider, he would have liked more on-street lanes and routes across the city. But he called for a scaled-down version after opposition from the council and the public to the original plan.
"I know it falls short of what the cycling community would have preferred and it goes further than what the opponents preferred," Shepard said.
Shepard said he was surprised at the push-back from those who believed the project would cause traffic congestion and take away parking spots in front of homes and businesses.
On Tuesday, city staffers said residents on streets targeted for bike lanes would be asked to help identify concerns, such as whether on-street parking would suffer. On-street parking would likely be prohibited or restricted on streets with designated bike lanes to prevent cyclists from being forced into regular traffic to get around parked cars, staffers said.
Committee members also weighed in on Davis Drive, saying they do not believe that the entire stretch from UTA Boulevard south to Arkansas Lane should have designated bike lanes. Instead, they proposed designating the portion between UTA Boulevard and Park Row Drive as a bike route, which would allow the city to more quickly put up signs and painted symbols to create a safer cycling environment.
Otherwise it could be several years before any bike amenities are added to Davis Drive, council members said. The city plans to wait until roads are rebuilt to install bike lanes, and Davis Drive is not on any immediate work schedule.
A public hearing on the master plan could be held June 14.
One of the largest projects calls for a 17-mile off-street trail along the length of Green Oaks Boulevard, which would connect people with several parks, including River Legacy Parks in far north Arlington, the Rush Creek trail system in west Arlington and Fish Creek Park in southeast Arlington.
The city, which already has 3.4 miles of trails along Northwest Green Oaks Boulevard, has adequate right of way to extend the concrete trail along the rest of the loop, city officials said. The city is also considering building a nine-mile stretch of on-street and off-street bicycle paths along Center Street that would extend from Northwest Green Oaks Boulevard to Arlington Municipal Airport. Center Street currently ends near the Arlington Highlands shopping center north of Interstate 20.
Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639