Planning & Transportation

Pedestrian-(un)Friendly Carrboro

For those of us who grew up in any other part of North Carolina, moving to Carrboro often seems like moving to a different (and better) world. Carrborians have always prided ourselves in trying to keep the good parts of Southern life intact (the relaxed pace and community) while striving to be the most culturally diverse, progressive town in the state. Instead of comparing ourselves to other similar-sized cities in the state, like Brevard or Concord or Goldsboro, most folks I know now compare Carrboro to other interesting, progressive cities throughout the country. We still stack up quite nicely in terms of our schools, public transit, and leadership, but we fall quite short on a very important indicator or quality of life: pedestrian friendliness.

Just look at other towns that are often mentioned in the same breath as our own: Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz, Ann Arbor, Madison, Towson Park, MD. We are much smaller than most of these towns and have other factors which separate us, but these municipalities are ones in which you can walk around much more freely and where bike paths and sidewalks can carry you to most parts of town.

Smart Schools

People around here love the word "smart." We're "smart." We have "smart" kids. We drink "smart" juice. We believe in "smart" growth. And now we want a smart-growth high school in Carrboro.

The smart-growth high school may represent the unified theory of folks who have escaped the city, embraced the space and beauty of our landscape and the pace of our lifestyles, but are still nostalgic for the days when they attended schools that began with "P.S." Establishing an urban neighborhood school in a non-urban environment would represent the overcoming of the last great obstacle to this marriage of fire and water we've been noodling with for the better part of a decade. That is, how to live a life as charged and overflowing and creative and convenient as life in Brooklyn (or Wicker Park, or Cambridge), while dispensing with the smell, and the crowds, and the dirt, and the attenuation of the natural world. Maybe in Carrboro, we think, we can just wish it into being.

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