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.

Let's face it, Carrboro is not a pedestrian's paradise. In fact, for anyone who has tried to bike or walk down Estes Drive to Bolin Creek for a bit of peace, or tried to bike up Smith Level Road to a friend's apartment, it is more like purgatory. Less than 50% of our roads currently have any kind of sidewalk. And our greenway network along Bolin Creek and Morgan Creek only exists because of the kindness of OWASA and private landowners who look the other way as we trespass.

It's time we started to beef up our network of sidewalks, bikeways, and bike paths so that we can continue to live up to our reputation as a liveable community. If we don't, we will continue to find ourselves with more car traffic and the pollution it brings, and less opportunities to cross the road without fearing for our lives.

But there is a solution. The sidewalk and greenways bond referendum up for a vote on Nov. 4 will help us put sidewalks on many of the highest-priority corridors. In addition, it will provide the money to pay for the development of a more formal Bolin Creek and Morgan Creek greenway along those two corridors, providing recreation for a large portion of Carrboro. That's why I'm voting for the sidewalks and greenways bond on November 4th.



Does anyone have any facts about this referendum pertaining to the actual locations of proposed improvements/ developments.

I keep hearing talk of it NOT going to help create sidewalks in crucial areas like south greensboro st in Carrboro, Smith Level road, Estes extension.

but that the bond would help widen many existing sidewalks in wealthy neighborhoods -

Any truth to these rumors???




I'm not sure where you got your information from, but most of what you were told is inaccurate. The bond referendum is specifically targeted for two purposes: 1) to build sidewalks on roads that have NO sidewalks, and 2) to build greenways. The roads that would have highest priority will be picked based on a number of criteria including proximity to schools and other high pedestrian locations along with some other criteria I can't remember at the moment. Most of the neighborhoods and streets that would get sidwalks would be in the older neighborhoods built before sidwalks were required in developments - some of those would be neighborhoods in traditionally working class neighborhoods like the Lloyd Street neighborhood while others will be in old Carrboro.

It does seem like Estes Dr. would come out as a very high priority as would Smith Level Road. It is true, however, that South Greensboro Street will probably not be on the list due to the extremely large amount of money that would be required to fit a sidewalk onto that road (I think fixing that road would take most of hte bond money). Instead, I think the town's strategy will be to work with NC DOT to try to find a way to get them to improve the road without bond funds.

There is a public hearing tonight if you have other questions There is also a ton of information about the bonds on the Carrboro website (see below).

Hope this helps clear things up.



Notice of Public Forum: Sidewalks And Greenways Bond Education

Monday, October 27th, 7:30 P.M., Carrboro Town Hall

With the campaign season reaching its peak, the Carrboro Sidewalks and

Greenways Bond Education Committee announces Carrboro Active, the

Committee's campaign to explain the bonds to Carrboro Citizens and to

answer the questions citizens may have.

The forum will be televised on Channel 18. Members of the Committee will

address different aspects of the bond and will take questions from those in


Please vote on November 4!!

Please follow this link for further details:

The Town of Carrboro, NC posts notices here:

The Town of Carrboro, NC Web Site is available at the following location:

Please email with any

changes/corrections/additions etc., as soon as possible.

There are undoubtedly some roads along which sidewalks already exist, but not for the full-length of the road. So you can be walking along the sidewalk and then suddenly the sidewalk ends and you have to walk on the shoulder or on the street for a few hundred yards and then the sidewalk reappears! This phenomenon occurs in areas where there are relatively new developments and where the developer(s) were required to offer(only) some minimal sidewalk.

If my first paragraph is correct, then it might be reasonable to assume that one good use of sidewalk bonds would be to connect these piecemeal sidewalks even if they are in newly-developed (or, in Ben's word, wealthy) neighborhoods. So if Ben heard that existing sidewalks were going to be "widened" perhaps his source meant to say "extended" or "connected"?

disclaimer: my comments above are based only on logic and guesswork; I have no actual knowledge of how the bonds are to be used


If by "widening" we actually mean "connecting", then, yes, it is possible that some of the areas that are going to be connected will be in upper middle-class neighborhoods. But again, many of them will be in areas such as the Lloyd Street area, out Smith Level, out Jones Ferry, and out Estes Dr. extension. Again, we don't have a final list of the highest priorities, but in earlier priority lists I think those fell out on as high priorities.

The bonds won't pave 100% of the roads without sidewalks, but they will pave a sizeable chunk. And since less than 50% of the roads in Carrboro have sidewalks, it seems essential to me to get them paved to improve walkability in a town that is growing so fast.


The Town has actually come up with a list of 75 or so sidewalk projects. The projects have been scored based on a number of factors including how bad the current pedestrian facilities at that site are and whether the path leads to a school. The list defintitely does include crucial sidewalks like S Greensboro St, Estes drive, Main Street and Jones Ferry Road.

-Mark Chilton


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