Look both ways

It's been a bad week for non-motorized transportation. On Monday, one pedestrian was killed on 15-501 south of town and another was injured* on West Franklin Street. And then yesterday a bus carrying the Boston College men's basketball team hit and killed a pedestrian on highway 54 near Meadowmont.

* Police say the pedestrian was at fault in this case.



If only this bad attention leads to friendly roads in North Carolina. If only it led to bike lanes! Imagine that, bike lanes, like a real city in a real First World country! Bike lanes...well, it's okay to dream I guess.

I offer my condolences to the family of this man and I hope they sue the pants of the state for never building bike lanes.

I'm surprised about the other accident happening at15-501/Bennett Lane. The Mt. Carmel Church Road/Bennett Lane area is a bit of death-trap. Cars coming down the hill go too fast (I used to live up there), cars coming up past the fire station have to edge out and floor it to get onto the road (I travel this way quite a bit), and cars coming up the hill go around a blind curve so they can't see what's happening at all. But, the 15-501/Bennett Road area has stop lights and shouldn't be that hard to cross.

These are unfortunate accidents, but not all the blame can be put on drivers, lack of sidewalks, or lack of bike lanes. If I had a penny for every bicyclist I see not following traffic laws, or idiot I see walking down the middle of the street impeding the flow of traffic, crossing in the middle of busy streets, and crossing streets against the light patterns and cross walk signals, I'd be retired and living in New Zealand within a year. Pedestrians should be held just as accountable for their actions that lead to accidents and near misses as drivers are. Honestly, if I'm following all the traffic laws and I have to slam on my brakes to avoid a pedestrian who is breaking the law, why shouldn't I be allowed to legally turn them into road kill. UNC campus police are finally ticketing jay walkers, maybe its time the CHPD start doing the same...that would mean the police walking up and down Franklin St would need to carry a citation pad with them...OH WAIT...I'VE NEVER SEEN A CHAPEL HILL POLICE OFFICE WITH A CITATION PAD...DO THEY EVEN HAVE THEM?!

"Honestly, if I'm following all the traffic laws and I have to slam on my brakes to avoid a pedestrian who is breaking the law, why shouldn't I be allowed to legally turn them into road kill."

Theresa, could you explain what you mean here? Bicyclists and pedestrians should obey the laws and when they don't, it is not good. But a driver breaking the law is far more problematic. Cars are bigger and more dangerous than people on foot or on bicycles.

Pedestrians should always have the right of way before cars.

Their technology was here first (and will be around longer).

“Honestly, if I'm following all the traffic laws and I have to slam on my brakes to avoid a pedestrian who is breaking the law, why shouldn't I be allowed to legally turn them into road kill.”

So wrong, at so many levels. Sad, sad, sad.

Cars are lethal weapons - in many instances every bit as lethal as a handgun. And yet, the requirements for getting a license to operate such lethal weapons are minimal and the requirements for maintaining that license are almost non-existent. It is disappointing that so few people stop to think that every time they get behind the wheel of a car they have the power of life and death over hundreds of people they will encounter on that trip.

"Pedestrians should always have the right of way before cars." I disagree...there are laws in place that pedestrians are supposed to follow...these laws being in place for their very protection....just as sidewalks exist for their protection (although you wouldn't know my neighborhood actually had sidewalks since most refuse to use them).

Jen, you assume that drivers are breaking the law, but as I specifically stated "if I'm following all the traffic laws and I have to slam on my brakes to avoid a pedestrian who is breaking the law"...pedestrians should be held to following laws just as drivers are, and for the most part they are not.

I am both a pedestrian (walking to/from work everyday) and a driver (although I do try to avoid it in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area since I do consider drivers here the worst of any I've ever experienced...including LA, NYC, Detroit & Germany). I have almost been hit by drivers that don't stop at stop lights (a constant occurrance at the light in front of Panera Bread on Franklin St), and I've almost hit people who cross the street in front of my car against the light or in the middle of the street (usually doing so without sufficent room to do so...a big problem on MLK).

The short of all this...pedestrians should be held responsible for their actions just as drivers are held responsible. Example: Can you honestly say that the driver that hit the woman on the corner of Hwy 55/Jenks Rd in Apex is responsible for the woman death even though they were following the law and eyewitness accounts say she dashed out in front of the person's car without warning? Is she not accountable for her actions? Had she actually lived should she not have been brought up on charges of reckless endangerment or any other number of laws she broke by causing the accident?


You have to keep things in context. Yes, pedestrians should be accountable for their actions and they have responsibilities. But if a six-year old child darts out in front of a car and gets killed, did they deserve it because they were at fault. Should a child (or an adult for that matter) have to pay the ultimate penalty for an error of judgment involving a second or less (remember, a car travelling at 30 mph is traveling at 44 feet per second). Some accidents are truly unavoidable but I believe, even though pedestrians (and cyclists) have to bear responsibility along with motorists, someone who chooses to operate a 4,000 pound piece of metal traveling at 44-88 feet per second has to bear a majority of the responsibility for the safe operation of that vehicle.


Your argument is legalistic. Does it bother you at all that you refered to people as road kill? I understand your argument from law. It's an argument that makes sense until you use it to justify the act of "legally" turning people "into road kill". Your choice of words--and indeed, the sentiment behind the words--are gaspingly cold and inhumane. The death of a human being, regardless of the circumstances, should be treated with profound dignity.

I vote to forgive Theresa.

Off subject--- Whatever happened to that guy Dan who used to post here on OP?


I can vote to forgive Theresa (not excuse, but forgive) if she was just being glib. But if she truly thinks that a pedestrian who errs is justifiable roadkill then I'll have to withhold my vote.

Regarding that guy Dan, I suspect that maintaining a low profile can sometimes be the best strategy while you're a candidate for office, especially on topics that aren't significant issues of local government.

I was almost hit last night, crossing at Hillsborough St. (near Flying Burrito) about 8:45 p.m. I crossed with the light, and was in the middle of the crosswalk when a car speeded down MLK Blvd and made a left turn without stopping. I literally had to jump out of her way or else she probably would have killed or seriously injured me. This is a serious problem in this town.

"the sentiment behind the words–are gaspingly cold and inhumane"...they may be cold and inhumane, but utterly effective in getting people out of their sentimentalist mindset that the people that where injured/killed were at no fault. the apex accident for example...the driver of the car did not put cocaine into the womans system, the driver of the car did not make the woman run out into traffic, but (according to arguements here) the driver of the car is responsible. No one here knows the specifics of either the HWY 54 bicyclist accident or the 15/501 pedestrian accident...I've checked the news and nothing I've seen leads me to believe that there in any one circumstance that lead to either death. Was the bicyclist/pedestrian in the middle of the road instead of along the side?...Was the car/bus speeding? We just don't know, but everyone here seems to want to go ahead and put the blame on the drivers, and my point is that pedestrians/bicylist are just as responsible for maintaining their own safety.

Yes, my empathy towards the human race has pretty much gone the way of the existence of commonsense in the human race (pretty damn close to nonexistent), at least where people's choices are at fault for the outcomes. Case in point...last year during the celebration of UNC men winning the NCAA championship. I knew one of the guys that was semi-badly burned when he fell into one of the bonfires that he was jumping. It is tragic that this had to occur, but to some extent he is accountable for the outcome. Commonsense dictates you don't jump over fires...his choice was in part responsible for a negative outcome.

I've pulled cyclists and pedestrians over when I've been driving in the evening or night and let them that I could not see them. I've tapped women on the shoulder walking down the street with earbuds/headphones on and asked them if they knew I was there and what would they have done if I was someone out to hurt them. If I were really inhumane, I wouldn't do that....but again that goes to the lack of commonsense that exists in general.

"someone who chooses to operate a 4,000 pound piece of metal traveling at 44-88 feet per second has to bear a majority of the responsibility for the safe operation of that vehicle" If the person who choses to drive is following the laws then they are bearing the majority of the responsibility for the safe operation of that vehicle. Put into perspective however...a person who can look both ways, cross at corners/crosswalks, and obviously not walk out into the middle of traffic is much easier to do than stop "a 4,000 pound piece of metal traveling at 44-88 feet per second" even if they are only going the legal 20mph on Franklin St. Pedestrians are just as at fault for the outcome of an accident if their actions go against commonsense and the laws established to protect them.

I don't really believe I need to be forgiven since my words were chosen to bluntly make a point...sorry to all who prefer things be sugar coated I just can't do that...call it the yankee in me if you choose.

"I was almost hit last night, crossing at Hillsborough St. (near Flying Burrito) about 8:45 p.m. I crossed with the light, and was in the middle of the crosswalk when a car speeded down MLK Blvd and made a left turn without stopping. I literally had to jump out of her way or else she probably would have killed or seriously injured me. This is a serious problem in this town."

Now in this can, yes the driver was at fault. I've had the same experience on Franklin St, and not to beat a dead horse but I really believe it is because the CHPD just doesn't write tickets.

I realize the stuff people say on this site can be infuriating sometimes but would ya'll just please STOP FEEDING THE TROLLS! This means if someone says something so outrageously stupid you can't believe it, IGNORE THEM. This tends to cut them off fast. It's obvious that people who say mean things are looking for a response. Fight these bully tactics with silence. :)


Out of curiosity, do you have a bumper sticker on your car that reads "I DON'T brake for animals (or people)"?

Brian are you considering me a troll...I think my points were well made and well supported...but blunt...maybe too blunt for a southern audience...I'd prefer to call it playing the devil's advocate. I always have to remember that progressive and liberal in the south is still conservative to me...say what you mean and mean what you say because sugar coating does no good.

Sorry no bumber stickers for me...I only want people to know my views when and if I choose to express them. And I do brake for animals and people (or at least I brake for people if given the chance...I have had to hit a parked car because someone walked out in front of me within 5 feet of my car...I was nice enough to choose hitting the parked car over the pedestrian. However I did slam them against the side of my car when they tried to keep going and made witnesses stick around...I wasn't about the take the hit on my car insurance because of some pedestrians stupidity.) Fact: You can't stop a car going 35mph in 5 feet.

I haven't heard of a rash of death by vehicular assault in town over the past couple of years so I think we can safely assume that Theresa was using exaggeration to help make a point.

Bback in the 1970s & 80s, bicyclists were expected to ride in traffic with the cars when bike lanes weren't available. Many drivers didn't like being slowed down at all, but there weren't as many cars back then and so there was an uneasy acceptance of bicyclists right to the road. And the police held us to the same traffic laws as cars--expected to give turn signals, stop at lights, yield to pedestrians, etc.. It wasn't perfect but it was much better than it is today.

Like Theresa, I'm really tired of bicyclists who think they are unfettered by legal constraints or basic courtesy. As for pedestrians, we need more crosswalks and crossing signals. We've passed the era where pedestrians reigned supreme.

"I think we can safely assume that Theresa was using exaggeration to help make a point."

Thank you Terri, that is exactly the case. However, due to my lack of political correctness in posting I seem to have gotten a mess load of panties in a bunch...funny how that pun works out.

In my arguement I have expressed an opinion different that that of the majority, but let me put this out there. Without examining both sides of an arguement you are missing half the point. I may not like the messages of the religious right, but I still must know what they are saying through reading/hearing their messages for myself. If all you know is what a liberal is saying in response to the religious right arguement, then you don't see both sides...you only see the liberal response. Being willing to learn both sides first hand is the true indication of a Progressive person.

I am a bicycle commuter and sport bicycle rider. I have been an active cyclists since 1973. Here are some things I try to remember and teach.
Intersections are common places to have an accident. Be patient, be vigilant, be courteous, be careful. Look both ways, make your intentions known. I point the direction I am heading, I don't use the the correct up raised arm signal for right turns, seems to confuse some.
When riding alone on country roads be aware of vehicles approaching by looking behind you frequently, try to let vehicles know you see them, then choose a line as close to the side of the road as you can and try to keep it, this will indicate to a driver you see them and you are trying to hold this line for them to pass you. If you are lucky approaching a blind turn or hill, a polite driver will stay behind you until the view of oncoming traffic is clear, If you can see it before them, signal them it is ok to pass you, promotes good relations.
When in a group of 4 or less line up in single file when cars approach and let them pass, in the same way as when alone. In larger groups it is unsafe for a vehicle to try and pass a single file line of riders. Make sure someone in the back is letting the group know vehicles are approaching. The front riders should indicate to the back of the group when it is safe for the vehicles to pass the group of riders and the back can signal then to the vehicles to pass in the passing lane.
I often see riders of 4 or less taking up a lane, adamant not to let cars pass. By law they can do that, but I feel it is not in the best interest of the cyclists long term and in some cases, short term.
Riding at night is dangerous. If you do use, lights and reflectors. I use a reflective vest as well as lights.
Drivers shouldn't pass cyclists unless they feel like they won't hit them. Even if they are signaling you to pass, if you don't feel like it will be safe wait until you do.
Try to minimize the number of vehicles passing you whenever possible. I map out routes when going on long trips to avoid major roads. Try to find routes that you can take that avoid heavy traffic when possible.
It unerves and pisses off some riders, but not me, I understand a short blast of a horn means you are passing me, but be aware, some take it as an assault.
I read about cyclists dying on our roads every week. In many cases it says the cyclists lost control and swerved into traffic. It may happen some, but most avid cyclits are good on their bikes and don't swerve into traffic. Most are hit because someone is in too big a hurry. Patience when it comes to driving and cycling is not just a virtue, it can be a life saver. Please, be patient, what is the hurry? Can it wait or is it worth yours or someone elses life?
I've been hearing about this accident all day, some just checking to make sure the Carrboro cyclists killed wasn't me. Please excuse the length of the post, maybe I'll enlighten someone and someone else won't have to die.

If North Carolina would pave the shoulders of the roads it would be very helpful in sharing the road with pedestrians and bikers. It's not exactly the same as a bike lane, but then again probably doesn't cost as much.........

I'm with Brian. Arguing with irrational people just serves to validate their points.

But I've said that many times here to no avail. I think many of the commenters come to OP looking for a fight. How else do you explain the conservatives?

"If North Carolina would pave the shoulders of the roads it would be very helpful in sharing the road with pedestrians and bikers."

Anita, while I agree with you it is still only identifying one side of the issue. Yes, we need wider lanes, bicycle lanes, more sidewalks, better enforcement of both traffic and pedestrian laws, along with a bunch of other things. It is only through address all the issues that things can really be accomplished. Yet all of these things require funding, funding will only happen though taxes, and we all know that the thought of raising taxes causes a huge hissy fit. And Orange County and Carrboro can't really make an arguement for raising the car use tax (or whatever its called)...I couldn't believe how high it already was compaired to Wake County...my 2004Corolla taxes were higher in Carrboro than my best friends 2004 4 Runner tax in Wake County.

Most of the roads that need improvement are state roads that are under control of NCDOT. Unfortunately, NCDOT has decided that it should spend a greater proportion of its funds in the less populated areas of eastern and western NC so money will be even more scarce than before. My recollection is that Orange County per capita expenditures by NCDOT are about 1/2 of those in districts such as Greensboro. At least we fared better than Wake County under the new redistribution of funds policy - I think we ended up with about a 3% increase while Wake County had a substantial decrease. In any case, bicycle facilities are very low on NCDOT's priority list.

The bicyclists killed was 39 year old Harry Alston of Carrboro. My sincere condolences to his friends and family.

There are a lot of misconceptions about bike laws. For instance, you wrote: "I often see riders of 4 or less taking up a lane, adamant not to let cars pass. By law they can do that, but I feel it is not in the best interest of the cyclists long term and in some cases, short term." In fact, there is no law that allows this. Here is a clip from the DOT website: http://www.ncdot.org/transit/bicycle/laws/laws_bikelaws.html

"There is no law that requires bicyclists to ride single file, nor is there a law that gives cyclists the right to ride two or more abreast. It is important to ride responsibly and courteously, so that cars may pass safely."

I think your larger point is correct. It is best for cyclists and motorists to keep in mind they must share the road. More specifically, cyclists should remember that they are often travelling much slower than the speed limit, and motorists should remember that there is a very vulnerable human being on that bike. Cyclists should allow cars to pass as best they can. Motorists should realize that a bicycle is a vehicle just like their car in the eyes of NC law, and that arriving at their destination two minutes later will not ruin their lives.

While we're talking about the responsibilites associated with wielding a 3,000 pound deadly weapon... did anybody see this from last week?
It's called "Sometimes it's necessary" and it's about drunk driving from the NCSU student paper.


Thanks Ed for clarifying that for me. Like you stated, a lot of misconceptions. Great link for clearing up some of them in NC.
I haven't always practiced what I preach about cycling etiquette in 30 plus years of cycling. Practicing keeping my cool when faced with angry drivers has helped a lot though and has probably saved me some trouble. I try to fool myself into thinking that courtesy is contagious, although I know nothing will really help when faced with an unreasonable person weilding a hurtling mass of steel at me. At least I don't ruin my ride being angry at the trolls driving around.
Like a NYC cop told me once, the two things you never want said about you are lucky to be alive or worse,in the wrong place at the wrong time. Most bicyclists out there know the dangers, they just like riding so much it is a chance they take. Cut them some slack, even if they act like arrogant fools. It is one less car on the road, could even be considered patriotic to consume less oil.

As a daily bicyclist, I can guarantee that
our DOT-owned roads are in miserable condition.
I invite anyone to ride a bike from the dental school
to Woolen Gym.

Recently, the downhill lanes of the Raleigh Road hill
were repaved, raising the elevation of the road surface
by about two inches. Would you believe that, for the
first time ever in Chapel Hill that I can remember,
DOT actually raised the storm sewer grates to be
flush with the road surface. I wrote a thank-you
letter to the CH town council. Jim Ward wrote back
with copies of all the letters that went back and
forth between him, town staff, and DOT reps that
it took to get this task done. DOT seems to believe
that the road edges are solely for draining water and collecting debris, not for bicyle transportion.

Back in the mid 90s, CH spent 3,400 (I think) to paint
white lines that highlighted recessed storm sewer
grates along the DOT roads, which are our biggest
bike-commuter roads.

Here's another one that I couldn't believe. DOT doesn't
clean its roads. There is nothing like a 2x4 that
has fallen off a truck and lies in the gutter to cause a
bad hair day for a bicyclist.
When we once asked our DOT rep
what the cleaning schedule was for the portion of
S. Columbia St. that went over the bypass and
Morgan Creek, he replied that DOT doesn't clean roads.
I was really close to yelling at him "What would
happen if I didn't clean my bathroom for two years?"

Sounds like another tragedy is unfolding tonight.

Mark, to what are you referring?

You are absolutely right about the shoulders being paved, it wouldn't be a bike lane but you could ride on it. When I first got to Duke I was run off the shoulder of Cornwallis Road twice in the first week - that's when I started driving to campus.

I agree with whoever it was that said four riders shouldn't take up a whole lane, but I saw it happen this weekend with TWO riders. They were just camped in the middle of the lane cruising along. After my previous experience I am very forgiving, but this just pissed me off.

From WRAL: Another pedestrian was struck on a Chapel Hill street Wednesday evening.

The collision occurred at Manning Drive and Highway 501 around 8:30 p.m. Neither the name nor the condition of the pedestrian has been released. Officials said that the scene has been cleared and should not affect post game traffic after the North Carolina/Boston College matchup.

Eric, I believe Mark is talking about another tragic pedestrian accident this evening on Manning/501.

This is so sad. Are police posted at this intersection on game nights?

Pat, thanks for your useful and insightful comments, esp. about bikers waving cars to pass when the bike can see ahead. I'm curious how bike accidents in the US compare with other countries. I have no idea if we're really any worse or not. Maybe we just have more cars? Anyone know?


I saw the 15/501 accident a few minutes after it happened. The body was in the left lane of the Northbound direction, pretty much in the middle of the road. I do not know what happened and could not find any information. Does anyone have a link?

BTW, OT, semi-finalist list for the Koufax Awards for Best State and Local Blog are up and there are many NC blogs there, including OP. Go check them out.

My best friend works with Harry Austin (man that was hit by the bus) sisters. My daughter went to middle school with his son.

The Austin family has not had a good start of a new year. Approx 1-2 weeks ago, Harry Austin sisters' apartment building burnt down. She lost everything.

I can't imagine losing all your possessions then not even two weeks later losing your brother.

My point is.....when you think your problems are so great, you need to think of this family.
I would like to give this family time to grieve. I want to ask my friend if their is anything that we can do for his sister. I would like to post those things she may need on OP if its ok with Ruby & others.

mlbarbee991@yahoo.com is my email address if anyone is interested in helping out.

The information about the Harry Alston accident was front page News and Observer. It is still under investigation, but it said he was hit by the bus's mirror.

It was our neighbor David Galinsky who was killed at the Manning intersection last night. He was on his way to the basketball game. It is very, very sad. Please keep his wife Maeda in your thoughts, and if you know her, she would love to hear from you.

Per NC. §20-4.01 (49) bicycles are vehicles and bicycle users are drivers of vehicles. Bicycle drivers are assigned all of the rights and most of the operating responsibilities of drivers of motor vehicles. All roads are designed for bicycles, which are 2 ft wide and easily fit on any road. Bicycle drivers are entitled to use of the full lane, though we often generously allow motorists to use OUR lane to pass. We can share our lane if we want with whomever we want (even 4 bicycles wide), but are not obligated to do so.

Bicycles are typically slow, but not always. It is easy to hit 35 mph down large hills, and 20-25 on small ones, like West Franklin. My wife and I are sometimes delayed on our bikes by even slower front loaders, leaf tractors, stopped busses or delivery trucks, and stopped vehicles at traffic lights.

Narrow, heavy traffic roads make it more difficult for motorists to overtake bicyclists. I make no apologies for this. Widening such roads with another standard lane, widening the existing lane, or having a bike lane enables easier motorist overtaking. This reduces potential motorist frustration, social friction, and makes some bicyclists feel more comfortable, but does not provide operational benefits to bicycle drivers and, in fact ,creates several dis-benefits to bicyclists that did not previously exist.

Striping the former 22 ft wide lanes of Cameron with 5 ft bikes lanes (substandard width by “normal” lane standards; minimum width by bike lane standards) was a great way to REDUCE bicyclist's space to the worst part of the road. The reason our cars have the steering wheel on the left is to place the driver further from the edge of the road to improve sight lines at junctions to improve safety. Contrast this with the governmental practice of confining bicycle drivers to the side of the road with bike lane stripes. This is excellent at guaranteeing debris in the lane, and treating bicycle drivers like something different in an artificially created paradigm (segregation by vehicle type), while giving motorists two unimpeded generously wide gun barrels to travel at the best part of the road. Gee, thanks for the special seats in the back of the bus.

Paved shoulders are typically put on higher order roads to enable or encourage higher motorist speed, to prevent run-off-road type collisions, and to increase the longevity of the edge of the travel lane. They are not for travel. Bike lanes are simply glorified shoulders with a sympathetic name (to some people). Bike Bantustans is a better one. Bike Bantustans could be used on freeway design roads where high speed is encouraged and the lack of driveways and intersections negates merging/turning hazards to bicyclists, but not elsewhere. Bike lane stripes should be removed; End Bicycle Driver Apartheid Now! The terrible Share the Road placard should be removed from the bicycle icon signs. On steeps descents a bicycle-on-steep grade icon sign should be used with Use Full Lane placards.


A neighbor up here has worked long and hard to get pedestrian amenities along Homestead Rd. I remember her pleading to local governments, "Do we have to wait for someone to get killed?"

Hopefully, our promised sidewalks and crosswalks will come through this year. In the meantime, CHHS students regularly cross Homestead Road with cars whizzing by at 50 mph. I fear for these children and the children crossing Seawell School Road-- which also needs pedestrian crossing amenities at the H.S. Road intersection.

These recent deaths are a wake up call. Last week as I drove into Town in the late afternoon, I distinctly remember fearing for the safety of all the pedestrians haphazardly crossing MLK Blvd.

I would like to see the Transportation Departments in both Towns step up efforts to improve pedestrian crossings.

But Wayne, aren't there also minimum safe speeds for roadways? If it is posted at 35 mph for all vehicles, what is the safe minimum?

Hi John,

No, there is no minimum safe speed. Don't vehicles safely often come to a complete stop on such roads?

Roads are designed with a stopping sight distance such that drivers can come to a complete stop prior to striking a stationary object. A bicyclist traveling at x mph provides a margin for error, and the motorist need only to slow to the bicyclist's speed, at worst, to avoid collision. This is why it is exceedingly rare for lawfully riding bicyclists to be struck from behind.

Typical bicyclists and prospective bicyclists overly worry about being struck from behind (and don't worry enough about the actual hazards) and actually operate in a manner that increases hazards. Riding on the edge like a leper of the road encourages motorists to squeeze by. This also can make one less visible to emerging drivers at junctions, and to turning oncoming drivers. By riding further into the lane, overtaking motorists are forced to be more cautious. But this is not intuitive.


I agree with Wayne. I often encounter cyclists on Old Erwin Road or Whitfield. I would much rather have them riding several feet into the lane than right on the right-hand edge. If they are partially in the lane I have to slow down to their speed until I can safely pass. If they are on the edge it encourages me to pass them under situations where I'm afraid they might inadvertently veer left into the lane. I still insist on giving them a wide berth but I see no reason why motorists can't slow down for a few seconds or even a minute until the traffic and sight lines are clear enough to make a safe pass.
I think this is an educational issue. DMV should give more emphasis to educating motorists on how to safely share the road with cyclists. There should be more stringent requirements for license renewals - perhaps a mandatory 4-hr class every other renewal. We all tend to lose some of our skills with age - either from slowing of our reflexes or the complacency that comes with familiarity. A class can't do anything about slowing of reflexes but it might make us aware of bad habits we've acquired.

The Herald writes: Town baffled as 3rd person is struck, killed by vehicle. I don't actually think it's that hard to figure out the connection between the three tragic incidents. In all three places where people where killed, there are litte or no facilities for pedestrians and cyclists even though they are all near supposedly pedestrian-oriented developments: Southern Village, Meadowmont, and the UNC campus.

We need to start getting serious about transportation planning. If we really don't want everyone to drive, we need to design our town for people and not cars!


I agree with you in principle but the "We" you refer to needs to include NCDOT. I believe that Chapel Hill has strived to improve its roads for increased pedestrian and cyclist safety where it had the opportunities. Unfortunately, some of the worse situations are on roads controlled by NCDOT. It took a pedestrian fatality on West Franklin to get them to approve a crosswalk/signal that the Town had requested much earlier. I expect to see a fatality soon on MLK Blvd. given the number of people that have to run across 5 lanes of traffic which is almost always exceeding the speed limit. The T-Board suggested a media on that portion of MLK that currently doesn't have one in order to provide a pedestrian refuge. The likelihood of NCDOT approving our requested improvements seems to usually be low and the likelihood of their funding of such improvements is even lower.
Given that this is the time for preparing Town budgets perhaps the citizens need to consider whether they are willing to fund such improvements on NCDOT-controlled roads out of the Town's budget. This would, most likely, require a tax increase (although some funds might be available from bond monies). Are citizens willing to pay higher property taxes to have safer pedestrian/cycling facilities? Now is the time for the citizens to let the Council know how much safety is worth to them. I'd hate to think that for a few dollars more per household per year we might have been able to have three of our citizens still here with us today.

John K, I'm not sure I understand the point of your last comment and link.

On the other hand, driving below the posted speed limit can also be dangerous. If you must drive slower, you should still observe the minimum speed limit.

I don't think there is any disagreement that bicyclists are in danger on our roads. And one of the reasons is because they often travel under the speed limit. Are you implying they shouldn't be on the roads at all for this reason?

Also, few roads have posted minimum speed limits. Interstates are have them. Bikes cannot be used on interstates, for this reason. But where there is no posted minimum speed limit, there is no implied minimum speed limit. You seem to suggest there is.



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