Happening Now

Public engagement and discussion with business and property owners is continuing prior to the City moving forward in issuing a BID for construction. There will be two additional opportunities for public comment on the proposed project.

Upcoming Public Meetings

  • December 9, 2022 9:30 AM – Downtown Commission
  • January 9, 2023 4:00 PM – City Council Planning and Economic Development Committee

Most Recent Project Design

The most recent Draft Design of the Proposed Project attempts to respond to the input received between February 2022 and September 2022. The primary concern heard throughout the engagement events related to loading and delivery access. The Draft  Design now includes over 115 feet of additional loading zone area. 

On November 16, 2022 staff provided a presentation to the Public Space Management Task Force to present the background and purpose of the project, as well as the most recent Draft Design.


Background

This project proposes to add buffered bike lanes on College Street between Spruce Street and Pritchard Park and on Patton Avenue between Pritchard Park and Biltmore Avenue. The addition of these bicycle facilities is consistent with adopted City plans and policies to improve multimodal transportation, particularly in Downtown Asheville. 

Plans for adding bicycle facilities to College Street and Patton Avenue began several years ago, when College Street between Spruce and Charlotte Street was reconfigured to reduce the number of vehicle lanes and add bicycle facilities. Then, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the City began to explore new, creative ways to create “shared streets” throughout Downtown, City staff began to develop concepts for the bicycle facilities on College and Patton. 

The City then approached Asheville on Bikes and Connect Buncombe, both local nonprofits dedicated to improving multimodal transportation infrastructure and safety,  to see if they would like to work together to hire a transportation consultant to prepare design plans.


Project Details

Because College and Patton are one-way streets in the core of Downtown, the City and its project team analyzed whether a bike lane should be installed on the left side of the street or the right side of the street. This analysis revealed that a bike lane on the left side of the street would result in a lower number of potential conflicts between a bicycle user and other vehicles using the roadway including cars, transit, and delivery trucks. Left-side bike lanes also tend to present fewer conflicts with right-turning vehicles than traditional right-side bike lanes.

This video provides a detailed project overview and explanation of the project team’s analysis.

Project Goals and Objectives

map of college/patton bike lanes

The primary objective of this project is to increase multimodal connectivity, which includes expanding dedicated bicycle infrastructure throughout the city’s urban core. Below are the project goals and objectives:

  • City plans and policies directly call for additional bike facilities 
  • Increasing bike use supports City climate, resilience, community health, and affordability goals
  • There has been an increase in bike and ped activity during/since COVID
  • COVID helped us reimagine use of public space (shared streets, parklets)
  • Electric bike use is growing (as well as other e-mobility devices)
  • Asheville consistently ranks at the top in NC for bike and pedestrian fatalities
  • Facilitate potential future City bike share program
  • College and Patton are the main east-west streets through downtown and connect to east and west Asheville 
  • These bike lanes would connect to existing bike lanes and future bike lanes in downtown and beyond
  • Increases options for downtown workers and visitors
  • Providing other options to get downtown will help reduce parking demand

Increasing bicycle infrastructure and providing a connected network also indirectly supports a number of City goals related to affordability, community health, economic development, and sustainability. In particular, transportation costs are typically the 2nd largest household expense behind housing costs (rent/mortgage, utilities, etc.). Improving affordability in Asheville is therefore more than just providing more affordable housing but also working to decrease transportation costs by providing alternatives to vehicle ownership.

Timeline of Public Outreach Completed Thus Far

  • February 16, 2022 – Letters sent to property owners in the corridor with engagement opportunities info and link to project website
  • February 24 & 25, 2022 – Flyers delivered to businesses on both corridors 
  • March 2, 2022
    • Morning virtual public meeting and presentation and concept design review
    • Evening virtual public meeting and presentation and concept design review
  • March 11, 2022 – Press Release by City of Asheville
  • March 11, 2022 – Email sent to stakeholders notifying them of public engagement opportunities
  • March 11, 2022 – Downtown Commission meeting, presentation and concept design
  • March 17, 2022 – Afternoon in-person walking tour with stakeholders
  • March 19, 2022 – Saturday in-person walking tour with stakeholders
  • March 23, 2022 – Multimodal Transportation Commission meeting, presentation and concept design review
  • March 24, 2022
    • Morning virtual public meeting and presentation and concept design review
    • Evening virtual public meeting and presentation and concept design review
  • June 10, 2022 – Downtown Commission meeting, discuss public input
  • June 22, 2022 – Multimodal Transportation Commission meeting, discuss public input
  • September 13, 2022 – Managers’ Report to City Council
      • November 8, 2022 – Staff meeting with group of approximately 12 business owners on College and Patton
      • November 16, 2022 – Public Space Management Task Force meeting, presentation and task force input – presentation

  • Upcoming – December 9, 2022 – Downtown Commission meeting, staff presentation and receive public input
  • Upcoming – January 9, 2023 – City Council Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting, staff presentation and receive public input

Stakeholder engagement tracking – link

Project Opportunities and Concerns

Opportunities Concerns

Residents, downtown employees, and visitors will have another safe, affordable transportation option to access downtown businesses and services.

The project requires that one lane for vehicle travel be removed on each roadway.

The project will serve existing and future bicyclists, including e-bike users, and a possible future City bike-share program.

Existing loading zones are insufficient in number and are not sized/configured for large trucks.

Adding bicycle facilities has been shown to reduce parking demand and increase economic development.

The existing parklet on Patton Ave. will be removed in order to accommodate a protected bike lane.

The project will provide dedicated space for bicyclists, which increases safety for all road users.

Approximately 14 existing on-street parking spaces will be converted to loading, which will decrease the number of metered spaces, but improve loading opportunities and reduce the need for delivery drivers to double-park in the street.

The project will not require changes to traffic signals. Existing traffic volumes on each roadway average between 4,000 and 6,000 vehicles per day. The proposed lane configuration is not expected to have a significant impact on traffic flow or create additional congestion.

 

No impact to business access or driveways will occur.

 

The bike lanes will not cause changes to the footprint of the roadway or to sidewalks. The “curb to curb” distance will remain as is. ,

 

Several existing loading zones will be enlarged to better accommodate deliveries.

 

 

Loading Zone Concerns

Through the City’s project outreach, the City heard feedback that more loading zones are needed on both College and Patton. 

  • The updated design includes approximately 115’ additional loading zone space. 
  • This will create more space for delivery vehicles and is expected to reduce the need for delivery trucks to double-park in the street. 

loading zone map

map of loading zones

Emergency Access Concerns

Concerns regarding access for fire and police have been raised. 

  • Emergency access will be maintained. 
  • The “curb to curb” distance is not being changed, and therefore, the same amount of space will be available for emergency access. 
  • The Asheville Police Department and Asheville Fire Department have been consulted on the project design, including lane widths and configurations, to ensure that emergency vehicle access is not negatively impacted. 
  • The delineators being used to separate the bicycle lane from vehicle lanes are designed to be driven over by emergency vehicles if necessary.

Traffic Congestion Concerns

volume traffic map

Additional concerns have been raised about the potential for added traffic congestion if a vehicle lane is removed from each street. 

  • Current traffic volumes on College and Patton are between 4,000 and 6,000 vehicles per day. 
  • These daily volumes are well within thresholds for single-lane streets.
  • Comparisons to volumes on other single-lane roadways:
    • Haywood Rd. volumes are approx. 2 x greater
    • Biltmore Ave. volumes are approx. 2 x greater
    • Charlotte St. volumes are approx. 2-3 x greater
    • Merrimon volumes are approx. 3-4 x greater

While additional congestion may be experienced briefly during peak periods, the project balances the safety and mobility needs of all users by enhancing access to multimodal transportation options and providing dedicated and separated space for bicyclists and vehicles.  

Business Financial Impacts

Business owners have also raised concerns about the bicycle facilities potentially impacting their business operations and revenue potential. Numerous studies have shown that adding bicycle facilities has no negative, and in many cases, a positive impact, on businesses. A sample of these are linked below.

 

Cost and Budget

Non-profit partners, Asheville on Bikes and Connect Buncombe, funded the initial designs through local donations. The initial designs were completed by a local consulting firm, Traffic Planning and Design, in cooperation with the City of Asheville and were refined based on public feedback the City received.

$100,000 in the City budget is already programmed in the City of Asheville’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for implementation, including costs for:

  • Pavement markings
  • Vertical delineators
  • Signage
  • Traffic control during installation

Project Timeline

graphic of timeline

  • February – June 2022 – Initial public engagement
  • July – September 2022 – Plan revisions 
  • Early winter 2022 – Develop and issue bid documents
  • Spring 2023 – Anticipated implementation/installation

Supporting Documents

Examples of Left-Side Bike Lanes in Other Cities

Living Asheville: A Comprehensive Plan For Our Future (2018) 

Asheville in Motion Mobility Plan (2017) 

City of Asheville Complete Streets Policy (2012) 

City of Asheville Comprehensive Bicycle Plan (2008 – superseded by Asheville in Motion Plan)

Bicycle facility impact on businesses – Studies


Contact Information

Jessica Morriss, Assistant Director of Transportation

Related Services

Bicycle services

Learn how to safely and securely bicycle in Asheville

Related Departments

Transportation

The City of Asheville’s Transportation Department is dedicated to providing for the safety, health, mobility, and quality of life for Asheville citizens and guests through the administration of engineering, infrastructure and transportation related projects.

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