Delray Beach could become more appealing for bicyclists.
A proposal is in the works to widen a 1.5 mile stretch of Swinton Avenue from SE/SW 10th Street to N. 4th Street/Lake Ida Road, and add five-foot bike lanes on each side.
The changes would run right through busy Atlantic Avenue, and would include improved drainage and connecting gaps in sidewalks.
But neighbors on Swinton Avenue are upset, saying the construction would take away 50 percent of the trees on the historic street.
"It's the history, it's the trees, and it's also the safety," said Annette Annechild, who has lived on Swinton Avenue for 15 years. "I’m for bike lanes, I’m a bicyclist myself. But it didn’t make sense they would do it on the most historic street we have left that’s the main thoroughfare."
Annechild is raising concerns now that the wheels are in motion to make Swinton Avenue more bike friendly. She calls Swinton Avenue a dangerous stretch for bicyclists.
"Now we're in a tourist town with people that rent bikes and are gonna think they're bicycling in a safe place, but I don't think this street could ever be safe," Annechild said.
Then there's Jim Chard. He's the treasurer with Human Powered Delray, an advocacy group working to make it safer and easier to walk and bike in the city. But even he is raising concerns.
"In general, we are very much in favor of bike paths and pedestrian paths, but not at the expense of trees," Chard said.
Chard says he likes the location for the bike paths, but believes widening a street makes cars and trucks go faster.
"I think if people do not feel safe, if they do not feel comfortable, they're not going to ride," Chard said.
The Florida Department of Transportation is hosting a public workshop on the project Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Delray Beach Public Library at 100 W. Atlantic Avenue. Officials will show design plans, provide project information, and answer questions.
If approved, the $2.1 million project has an estimated start date of Spring 2020, and would take about a year to finish, according to FDOT.
"I certainly hope that they move on to an East-West bike lane, because that's what we need. And we can protect the beautiful trees and the nature that we have on this street," Annechild said.
West Palm Beach is also proposing changes that would make the city more friendly for bicyclists.