A key link to the city’s bicycle network cleared a hurdle Feb. 9 when the City Council unanimously agreed to eliminate some street parking on Ohio Street to add bike lanes.
Work will begin in June to remove eight parking spaces on the south side of Ohio Street and add bicycle lanes on both sides of the street. The project will extend from Cornwall Avenue to Grant Street — one leg of a larger link in the network that would encourage bicycling from the intersection of Lincoln Street and Lakeway Drive, under Interstate 5 via Meador Avenue, to downtown Bellingham by way of Bellingham High School.
Some business owners along that stretch of Ohio were concerned about the loss of parking.
“If we all start to lose parking spots for customers, then I need to ask myself why should I keep my business in Bellingham,” Jack Johnson wrote in a comment to the city dated Dec. 9. Johnson is the owner of Overhead Door on Ohio Street. “We need to have convenient parking for the customers to draw them downtown and not go elsewhere.”
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Council said it was satisfied to leave 27 of 35 parking spots in place on that part of Ohio. Parking studies in August and September at that location showed parking use was 35 percent of capacity.
“This is next to a high school,” council member Jack Weiss said at Monday’s meeting. “I think that providing the infrastructure for an alternative means of transportation for high school students is a very important thing for our community.”
“I think we have an incredibly strong case for putting in bicycle infrastructure here,” council member Michael Lilliquist said. “This is a great little connection. It’s a part of town people ride through already.”
The work on Ohio Street will include crosswalk and sidewalk work at intersections to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Officials hope to complete the work in August, before school starts. Money for the $300,000 project comes from the 0.2 percent sales tax hike city voters approved in 2010.