Uptown Charlotte is getting its first permanent, protected bicycle lane soon

Charlotte is about to trade a car lane for a bicycle lane uptown.

It will be the city’s first permanent, protected bicycle lane, with cars and riders separated by physical barriers instead of just paint stripes. It will also be wider than the narrow bike lanes painted alongside some city streets — the same width as a travel lane for cars — which will allow two-way bicycle traffic.

Construction is set to start Monday on the mile-long lane, which will connect the Little Sugar Creek Greenway to the Blue Line and the adjacent Rail Trail. Building the lane should take about a month, the Charlotte Department of Transportation said, and the lane should be open by April 26. That’s the start of BIKE! Charlotte, a two-week series of events to promote biking.

Most of the permanent bicycle lane will run along Sixth Street, though the bridge at Seventh Street and North McDowell Street will also be resurfaced and modified for bicycle traffic.

The bicycle lane will occupy the northern lane on Sixth Street, which is mostly occupied by parking. When the bicycle lane is done, there will be two lanes for cars on Sixth Street between McDowell Street and the Rail Trail, instead of the current three.

“It will be a giant leap forward for active transportation in the Queen City, and this April is the first big step,” said Scott Curry, Charlotte’s active transportation coordinator, in an email to project supporters.

The project is being funded with money from the city’s voter-approved transportation bonds.

Phase two of the project, which will connect the Rail Trail west to the Irwin Creek Greenway via Fifth and Sixth streets, is expected to open in 2021.