Jackson Ward business owner concerned over planned bike lanes

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RICHMOND, Va.  (WRIC) — City leaders in Richmond are mulling over the idea of adding bike lanes on 1st and 2nd streets in Jackson Ward. Area business owners, however, aren’t sure that adding bike lanes to an already congested area is a good idea.

“For the people who live and work in Jackson Ward, this is bigger than just bike lanes,” explained Lester Johnson, owner of Mama J’s restaurant on N. 1st Street. “We already have parking issues in Jackson Ward, we have traffic issues on 1st and 2nd streets, especially when there are things going on at the convention center on Broad Street.”

Johnson, who has owned Mama Js for the past eight years, says business is good, and he’d like to keep it that way.

“I feel like (bike lanes) may negatively impact my business because you’re going to have increased traffic issues right there between Clay and Marshall on First Street,” Johnson added. “Because there’s no parking, people want to go in and grab to go sometimes they just stop right there, run in and get it to go. If they can’t do that and they can’t find parking, do I lose business?”

Proponents of the bike lanes believe adding them would improve the quality of life for city residents.

“About a quarter of our households don’t have a car at home because they either can’t afford to or they can’t physically or mentally  are not able to drive,” explained Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Bike Walk RVA. “When you start to invest in transit bike infrastructure, we’re providing for folks who don’t have access to a car with transportation options to get about their daily lives go to work, go to school, go to church go to the grocery store.”

On March 20th, city leaders will meet and discuss the bike lanes with residents and business owners at the Hippodrome Theater in Jackson Ward. A week later, city council may vote on whether to move forward with seeking state and federal funding for the lanes.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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