At the last Portsmouth City Council meeting two Councilors brought a motion (at 11pm) to remove the Middle Street bike lane without any public input. Fortunately, Councilors Lazenby and McEachern pointed out the process should include public comment, and at least some information from the planning department.
Ahead of the August 31st Council Meeting City Manager Karen Conard and her staff have produced a detailed report on the lanes, including safety and usage statistics, options for improving the location where a bicyclist was recently “doored,” and the process that a redesign would require. Please read the report here including the final paragraph:
“At the August 18th meeting, some Councilors suggested that the bike lane could be temporarily modified by moving the parking to the curb as an interim step while an alternative design plan is being developed. Staff does not agree that such a modification would be feasible or advisable as a temporary measure and is of the opinion that this would be unsafe for both motorists and bicyclists.”
Please write to the full city council by noon this Monday, August 31st, in support of our bike lanes!
Or, sign up for public comment via Zoom for the 7pm meeting.
Please feel free to use any of the additional talking points:
- This partially protected bicycle lane project comes out of years of work and public processes, including Portsmouth Listens groups and the Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan.
- We need to improve on the bike lane and build out the network for bicyclists, not take a costly step backwards which seems motivated only by political reasons.
- Public safety experts (Police Captain Newport and Fire Chief Germain) have stated that the design makes the street significantly and measurably safer.
- Moving the lane to the driver side of parked cars puts bike riders at greater risk of being “doored” or hit by distracted drivers.
- NHDOT has stated that changes to the lane would require the repayment of major federal grant money that has already been spent. This would require taxpayers pay more than $250,000 to go against all the professionals invoked to remove the lane.
- To undo the current design, engineering costs would be in the range of $5,000-$10,000. The cost of res-striping the road would likely exceed an additional $50,000.
- More riders are out this year than ever before, of all ages and abilities. We need to encourage that further.
Contact the City Council here.
Thank you to all those who have spoken up in the past, let’s continue this action together for better bike infrastructure in the Seacoast! You don’t have to be a Portsmouth resident to comment.
Please share this post with your bicycling friends, especially new riders.