@Nickster You’re not being a jerk about cycling infrastructure. It’s extremely frustrating to see us spend money on “infrastructure” that does not induce cycling, only contributes to the belief that cycling for transportation is extremely dangerous, and reinforces the notion that spending on cycling infrastructure is a waste of money because no one uses it. I have a similar situation near me on Tryon Rd between Lake Wheeler and the RR bridge. There we have unprotected lanes on a four lane highway designed to accommodate vehicle speeds of 55mph. I’ve never seen anyone using these bike lanes - no surprise.
BPAC has been asked by city staff to help articulate the values that will drive our updated bike plan. Your post and my experience with Tryon Rd have helped me realize that one of those values needs to be correcting our mistakes from the past.
I think the lanes on there are ridiculous, however my one issue with the side path is crossing the Wade Avenue on/off ramps. I’ve ridden on this section a few times and never have had traffic stop for me. Luckily this was mainly during non traffic peak times, but I can only imagine during the peak times. People crossing the solid lines doesn’t bother me. They may as well be dashed further up. Other than that, I don’t see an issue with the bike lane being there. How does it add confusion?
Realistically, I think it was a cheap area/shot to say they are adding lanes in Raleigh numbers wise but that’s about it. I don’t think the plan was actually there for them to be useful. If I could take those miles and add them someplace else, I would. Now I have used the ones on Edwards Mill by the Harris Teeter up to the mall. I like that they are buffered.
They are making progress in adding bike infrastructure, but I agree it is far from being designed for all ages/abilities.
I’ve been the most excited and happy about the Oberlin Rd bike lanes. I tend to use the newly ones that are put in, but again they were not designed for all ages at all. I tend to see a lot of kids walk to Oberlin Magnet Middle School. I don’t know if I’ve seen a kid bike to it, but I’ve wondered if there would be a kid that would. Oberlin Rd does not have a bike lane when it hits the intersection of Oberlin Rd / Fairview. Due to this, I avoid it on my way home during peak times because it gets very tight in that area. Oberlin traffic does move very fast too. Now they do have a good sidepath on the north side of Fairview Rd to the school. I can see kids in the new development using it. So you can say there is “progress”, but it is very slow.
Overall I am somewhat disappointed in the Oberlin bike lanes because they were just done and don’t achieve the whole “all ages/abilities” type of infrastructure. I know I’ll enjoy it, but again it does not do enough. Having both bike lanes on one side of the road would have been better.
I am still looking forward to the spring when the section south of Smallwood Dr to Clark is completed.
Ride Rd also could have the lanes on one side. I think those are fairly new (within a couple years) and I have used them, however they are also not all ages/abilities.
Hillsborough St. by NC State:
These definitely need to be redone. I do like that they tried, but again they are not for the faint of heart. The bike lanes are narrow, you need to be cautious about the doors, and navigating the roundabout can be intimidating for some.
For me, I’m typically comfortable. I normally use my ebike on these lanes and will rid in the main lane when I see cars sticking into or very close to the bike lane (including the bus). I think people on scooters tend to use them a decent amount.
Hillsborough St. East of NC State:
Again not an all ages/abilities type, however I do tend to see quite a few people use the bike lanes east of Pullen on into downtown.
I’ve seen younger kids on bikes cross Dawson/McDowell, but they do use the wide sidewalks. I use the bike lane of course.
They are looking to make a 2 way cycle track on Faircloth Rd. I’ve used the bike lanes on Faircloth. My issues are: 1. That it was supposed to start construction in Summer 2022, but hasn’t; 2. It is being put in an area where there really isn’t dense housing. I’m sure I’ll use it, so I won’t complain too much.
The 2 way cycle tracks (or sidepaths) are the best in keeping people safe on busy/dangerous roads. Steeper inclines is a bit of a harder issue in our city, however with ebikes it makes it easier. Even without an ebike, having the 2 way cycle track doesn’t make you feel as rushed. Trying to go uphill at 6-10 mph instead of 12-16 on the flat gets people uncomfortable; especially when sharing the lane with cars.
Also connecting people to the greenway is another good thing as well as the greenway does connect a log of areas including NC State although the problem is that of course some of these areas do not have the biking infrastructure for all ages/abilities. It’s nice that the greenway gets to NC State, but that’s in the middle of the campus only and doesn’t go by the actual shops/restaurants on Hillsborough. It does get you to close to Whole Foods, but you need to bike the final 300 feet from the greenway to Whole Foods on the bike lane. It works for me, but I’m sure not for half of the population.
I’m not sure if anyone has gone to the Crank Arm Wednesday Night Ride, but I finally went a couple of weeks ago and it was a lot of fun. If you ever want to see what it’s like biking around downtown (now in the dark), while feeling comfortable at the same time, this would be a good place to go try out. They had a lot of people handing the front and bake of the group. There was a lot of people.
Excellent writeup, completely agree. Especially the Hillsborough St. section. It is particularly egregious considering all the college students, employees, etc. who commute by bike. It is extremely dangerous. There is plenty of room for protected bike lanes – even with the curb bump outs – if you remove the on-street parking and narrow the lanes slightly. Just not the will to do it. (And, my feeling is there’s plenty of ROW within the Pullen roundabout to make it fully protected, too). Imagine if there was a high-quality, consistent bike corridor from Downtown to NCSU main and Centennial via Hillsborough St. and Pullen Rd. Seems like a no-brainer. Excited to hear that this may be an emphasis on the bike plan update; looks like NCSU is ready to make Pullen Rd. bike lanes a thing, at least when the bridge over Western gets replaced. But let’s not stop there.
I want to speak at the city council public comment session at one point about this. The amount of close calls I’ve had on that road is ridiculous.
I ride for fitness, not for commuting, but my route will include Hillsborough between Pullen and Faircloth. Definitely need to be careful going past parked cars and often delivery trucks will take up both on-street parking and the bike lane. Even entering traffic circles can be tricky as cars don’t seem to register a person on a bike. I made the mistake of riding through on a nice Friday, around 1130 am, while kids were back at NCSU using the big Wolf Line buses and it was crazy busy with the lunch crowd. I still use that route but it depends on day/time; sometimes I shorten the time on Hillsborough or stay on Clark instead.
I don’t know if you recall the story from a couple months ago about a girl who claimed to be abducted off Hillsborough right across from NCSU in the middle of the day, but I knew she was lying as soon as I read it because there are thousands of people out at that time… And turns out she was lying.
BPAC had proposed a revised design for the Hillsborough St. lanes in front of NCSU that includes sharrows in the center of the street and a dashed line demarcating the bike lane where the lane was adjacent to on-street parking. The idea is to help indicate to cyclists that they can use the full lane to avoid being in the door zone and also try to indicate to drivers that cyclists may be moving in and out of the bike lane. It’s not perfect, but it’s an improvement over restricting the bike lane to only the door zone. I know some work has been done to remark the lanes, but I’ll ask for an update at our meeting on 11/20.
One might ask how we ended up with a door zone lane configuration to begin with. When I asked this I was told by a former city staff member that bike lanes were an afterthought to the overall Hillsborough redesign. Also, these projects take so long to get done that we can end up with suboptimal designs getting baked in early in the process while years go by during the right-of-way acquisition period, scoping, bidding, and finally construction. I think the Hillsborough St. project started in the mid 2000’s. BPAC wasn’t created until 2012. BPAC would never endorse a door zone bike lane in 2023. But keep in mind that we are only an advisory commission. We have no real authority. All city authority lies with council.
And you’re right - there is not the will to remove on-street parking on Hillsborough St. As you know, it would result in global economic collapse.
@wanderer I haven’t done the Crank Arm Wednesday night right but definitely have it on my list. Riding in a group through downtown is a lot of fun.
Could we stop making bike lanes an afterthought/temporary? Hell, on Sundays it’s legal to park in bike lanes for Church Parking.
A bike lane should be a lane for bikes with at little outside interference as possible. Nobody is parking in car lanes. Nobody is expecting cars to hop up on sidewalks to avoid obstacles. We shouldn’t be expecting any less out of our bike lanes.
Out of curiosity, who decides whether or not to keep/remove the parking in a particular area? Like, if the city council ultimately decided they’d rather remove parking there to make biking safer, would that be “enough” to make it happen?
Yes, city council could technically decide to remove parking there, but any change like that would go through tons of public engagement before becoming a reality. In this scenario there would be a lot of influential stakeholders likely against the idea: NC State, Hillsborough St. business owners, the Hillsborough St. community service cooperation, etc.
You may know this, but Hillsborough st. in this area is a municipal service district where property owners pay a higher level of taxes in return for a range of services not afforded to non MSD areas. So if a parking removal were on the table you can see how property owners might feel like they’re being screwed due to having to pay more for less.
A lot of folks mentioned the importance of Hillsborough Street cycling lane improvements.
I would love to see a focused effort on creating a safe biking/scooting freeway of sorts that runs from Downtown to PNC Arena with the standard many have set on here of “safe enough for a child to go on it.”
@wanderer@Brian@grant - fwiw I am one of the volunteers that helps with the Crank Arm rides if you have any questions - it’s about 10 miles at about 10 miles per hour - usually pretty relaxed speeds. People bring all kinds of bikes and abilities and there’s a sweeper to make sure everyone gets back. The goal is a social ride that helps people get comfortable with riding in the city, and shows new people some of the greenways and neighborhood bike-able streets near downtown. Separately, from a bike infrastructure perspective the greenways are great but there are quite a few missing links in the system from a transportation perspective - there isn’t a good/safe North-South route from the generally downtown to generally midtown areas for example.
not trying to be a pooper, when i lived was in reno, nv there was a shop near downtown that would buy up cheap bikes, get all the leftovers from burning man refurb them and sell them for a very reasonable amount throughout the year, possibly rented them. https://renobikeproject.org/ could something like this be cheaper and perhaps more fun than a dedicated bike share operation and give equal functionality?
Durham Bike CoOp is the closest equivalent near here. (and the Charlotte Re-Cyclery for that matter) Oaks and Spokes does a large bike giveaway for kids each fall, but that’s a different focus. The problem as I see it is getting a warehouse/utility space near where people live for a reasonable price currently.