Bike Lanes Here to Stay - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Bike Lanes Here to Stay

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ALEXANDRIA, La. -- The Bolton Avenue and Lee Street bike lanes are staying.

At Tuesday's council meeting, both supporters of the lanes and those against them got the chance to voice their concerns.

The city says Bolton Avenue falls under a mandated state program called "Complete Streets" that requires redone roads to come with bike lanes.

Lee Street does not, but the mayor says the lanes need to stay because they serve as a connection to Bolton.

Here's what people at the meeting had to say.

"Any road that is being built has the right to have the consideration for bikes and pedestrians," said Theresa Coplen with Fit Families for Cenla. "And, because we're looking at an overall plan, the route was funded by a state grant. It's just almost no way that you can go back and change a state grant. And if we had changed it, we would have lost everything in the city of Alexandria."

"I'm happy that they're at least trying to think about some of the other people and some of the other business," said Trent Marler with Marler Furniture. "Maybe a compromise where its applicable. Being that its a state highway and a state law, we're just going to have to go a little bit higher up and see what our next option is."

To help with the parking problem, the city will look at improved side street parking for local businesses.

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ALEXANDRIA, La. -- The battle over the Bolton Avenue and Lee Street bike lanes continues. And Tuesday it's being brought to city hall.

This fight is between local businesses who say the bike lanes have taken away their store front parking. and, with local bike enthusiasts who say bicyclists deserve a safe spot on the road.

News Channel Five's Brooke Buford has the story.

Trent Marler, the owner of Marler Furniture, says the biggest problem right now on Bolton Avenue is one that's on two wheels.

"We are fighting the bike lane problems and we're losing all of our front street parking," said Marler.

Earlier this year the city installed bike lanes as part of a project to beautify Bolton Avenue and Lee Street. The problem, Marler says, is when they did that his store front parking was taken away. And, now his business is taking a hit.

"Whenever we have a good flow of traffic, we have nowhere for our customers to park," he said. "Lets face it. This is furniture. We're not the only furniture store in town. They have other options."

Marler wants his spots back. But, there's a pro-bike group called Fit Families for Cenla that want to make sure the lanes stay.

"Two or three years ago, we began working with the City of Alexandria to develop a bike master plan," said Theresa Coplen with Fit Families for Cenla. "Everybody can't see the big picture, because Bolton is only the starting point for the big picture. Bolton is going to look totally different than it does today and its going to connect all the way throughout the city."

The group has created a petition of supporters for the lanes. They say, bicyclists deserve safe streets even if it means fewer parking spaces.

"I get that. But, I'm a business owner too and I have a business here in Alexandria. Personally, I had to provide my own parking. I did not have the city to provide parking for me," said Coplen. "I'm sorry they're going to lose their parking but when you're looking at safety, when you're looking at kids riding on the road. You're looking at people commuting on the road, they have a right to be safe."

Marler says he wants to find a solution that will work for everyone.

"The big thing is that we're not anti-bike," said Marler. "We want the cycling community to have bike lanes. We just want an agreement, possibly a shared lane where during business hours and they're at work and after we're closed open it up - no parking and let the bicyclists use the lanes."

He's hoping that soon businesses and bicyclists can share the road.

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