Land Use Transportation

Downtown Study

ICYMI there are some game changers coming on the scene for transportation in Raleigh and we’re here for this y’all and ready to be all hands on deck to help our city implement a vision for a people centered and mulit-modal mecca. To start out, mark your calendars for March 13th from 4pm – 7pm at the Raleigh Convention Center (and after join our monthly meetup!), which will be the date for the consultants to present on the final results of the Downtown Study, which looks at how to connect folks in our downtown core for all modes: cars, buses, bikes and feet. Let’s do a quick dive into the proposal so you feel educated and up to date before you stop by the meeting next week to provide feedback.

First points of emphasis, this will be an iterative process and one you should definitely engage with. The role of the downtown study was to devise a tiered approach and plan for having (4) Bus Rapid Transit Corridors terminate in the downtown core. Along with the need to accommodate bike facilities and space for cars and pedestrians – this plan has a lot to accomplish! Luckily the actual implementation of this plan will be phased into a corridor by corridor approach – with the first being the New Bern corridor.

Here are some of the renderings for the tier 1 and tier 2 bike facilities that are proposed in this plan (done by Kimley-Horn with the bike facilities subcontracted to Kittleson).

Tier one is considered anything that is protected and / or above the curb. Under the proposal from the consultants this includes:

An Urban Trail

Parking protected / buffered (1-way) bike lane

2-way buffered cycle tracks

We included some examples of where these facilities have been done in other markets and it’s incredibly exciting to see Raleigh moving toward the ranks of a cities that have these infrastructure investments.

The plan also includes some tier 2 facilities, which would be included on quieter streets and include shared lanes and buffered lanes. For context, right now we currently only have (1) buffered lane downtown Raleigh (Morgan) and *no* tier 2 facilities at all – so this will be an incredible improvement.

Overall, the plan seeks to incorporate treatments for an entire high frequency BRT network with plans to be fully implemented by 2027.

It’s extremely exciting to see our community having important conversations about where we invest in our future, and how we reallocate our space to create more places for people centered movement.

This is a rendering of how the BRT could look heading through downtown, where 1-lane is dedicated along key corridors for transit to efficiently serve our downtown core. One notable advantage of BRT is it’s frequency, so these lanes will be utilized to bring buses into the downtown core quickly and efficiently. Having a dedicated lane is also essential since it allows the bus to move freely and not be in a situation where it may get stuck in traffic.

Our biggest takeaway is the critical nature of leveraging this transportation network as one package, vs. approaching it as a piecemeal process. For instance, when the New Bern alignment comes through downtown, it will impact the bike facilities on Morgan Street, Blount and Wilmington. When the corridor for New Bern is discussed with council, it must include the replacement of these bike corridors with the suggested routes for implementation proposed with the downtown plan, otherwise we put all transit users that arrive by bike at significant risk with no downtown network to use. The GoRaleigh staff that are working on this project must always discuss it as a multi-modal strategy for Raleigh’s future and not a bus plan. After all, all transit riders arrive by bike or foot in our downtown market – let’s ensure they have a method to use our BRT network to make this transit investment successful.

If we want our transit system to thrive (and we DO!) it needs to be frequent, safe, reliable and robust. The downtown plan prescribes a good path forward for doing that, but let’s view our networks holistically to avoid putting BRT down without effectively implementing the surrounding multi-modal network needed for utilization and realizing mode-shift.

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