Our Carrboro and Chapel Hill communities have made a number of efforts lately to improve connectivity in their downtowns and improve the walking and cycling experience for residents. Carrboro is already recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a Bicycle Friendly Community, the only silver-level awardee in North Carolina. Chapel Hill is a bronze-level awardee. But there's always more to be done, to enhance the safety and convenience of getting around by bike and on foot. Several new improvements have recently been completed or are in the works. Our university is getting into the act too.
Bike Fixit Stations. At Wilson Park in Carrboro, the Town installed the first of three bike repair stations, followed in short order by the other two at the Libba Cotten Bikeway and at Town Hall. The tools and pumps at the stations are protected by simple shelters so that riders can make minor repairs or just fill their tires without exposure to rain or hot sun.
Photo credit: Alfonso E. Blanco
On Saturday, March 25th at 1 pm there will be a cruiser bike ride to tour these three fixit stations. It will start at Carrboro Town Commons. Find more information here.
There is also a new bike fixit station at Open Eye Café, paid for by the coffee shop. The first bike fixit station has been placed on UNC’s campus at Greenlaw Hall near The Pit. Another, at the Student Union, in 2018. Chapel Hill is also planning for a bike fixit station along with equipment to practice putting your bike on the bus. This equipment is likely to be located on East Franklin Street.
Bike racks. Almost as important as keeping your bike roadworthy is having a place to lock it when you arrive. Carrboro is also doing its part to keep up with the demand for well-designed, user-friendly bike parking—a new rack has been installed most recently at O2 Fitness joining others installed at El Centro Hispano, Looking Glass Café, and IFC’s Community Kitchen. We already have four bike corrals in our downtowns including on West Franklin Street, in front of the ArtsCenter, across from Weaver Street Market, and at Carrboro Town Hall.
In Chapel Hill, Rosemary Street has received improvements to it’s pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. New, brick sidewalks have been installed. New bike racks have been added. New buffered bike lanes have been striped that vastly improve the cycling experience – now we just need Carrboro to continue this infrastructure into Carrboro.
Photo credit: Damon Seils
Crosswalks. Colorful, artistic crosswalks have sprung up in many communities as part of the movement to assert the rights of everyone—not just motorists—to safely use the roadways. You may have seen (or used) those now brightening several crossings in Chapel Hill. Discussions are under way in Carrboro about implementing some of their own, perhaps at the intersection of W. Main, Weaver St., and Laurel in front of Town Hall. At least one is likely to be a variation of the rainbow—Carrboro being, of course, LGTBQ friendly as well as bike and ped friendly!
Photo credit: Meg McGurk
Bike share. Other upcoming, longer-term projects include the inter-jurisdictional development of a bike share program by Chapel Hill, UNC, and Carrboro; and the replacement, by NCDOT, of the 3-way signalized intersection at Estes Drive and N. Greensboro by a roundabout, designed to improve traffic flow AND to reduce car-car, car-bike, and car-pedestrian conflict.
The UNC School of Public Health has already implemented a bike share program.
Photo credit: Molly De Marco
Greenways. Greenways are also being extending to allow for greater connectivity within and between Chapel Hill and Carrboro. In Carrboro, Bolin Creek Trail Phase 1b (the Homestead-High School Multi-Use Path) should be completed this spring, allowing better connectivity between residential development along Homestead to the schools along Seawall School Road without the need to walk or bike adjacent to cars.
In Chapel Hill, the extensions of the Bolin Creek Trail (Phase 3) will go all the way to Umstead Park, where it will connect with the Tanyard Branch Trail. The Tanyard Branch Trail is currently dirt, but the paved trail has been planned once funding is secured. This extension comes out by Northside Elementary School. Pritchard Avenue Extension is closed for 3 months to make a tunnel under that road to complete this portion. Once everything's done, you'll be able to go from the community center on Estes Drive to downtown without an at-grade crossing of a major road.
The extension of the Morgan Creek Trail is also progressing. Morgan Creek design plans include Morgan Creek Trail East – Merritt’s Pasture to Oteys Road, Morgan Creek Trail West – Parking lot to Carrboro line and a new bridge over Morgan Creek at Ashe Place. These important links to cycling and pedestrian connectivity will make it easier and safer for folks south of Morgan Creek to get to places they want to get to.
Eric Allman, Colleen Barclay and Molly De Marco are on the board of the Carrboro Bicycle Coalition