Chance to make Estes better for bicycles!

I was investigating what was happening about the connecting of the existing bike paths on Estes with Carrboro by using the new Action Line and I got my question answered in one day! My first answer was from David Poythress, Street Superintendent, who explained some of the barriers to the project; Carrboro town limits end at the railroad, only 35' roadway as it connects with N. Greensboro, leaving only 5' for each side which isn't enough room, and it is a DOT road. He suggested I contact Dale Mckeel, Transportation Planner.

Dale got right back with me and told me he had a plan he was taking to the DOT for connecting the bike paths from Seawell School Road to Hillcrest and Williams using the city owned sewer easement that is already in place, basically cutting through to Williams close to Wilson Park.

This is definately long overdue. I first inquired about this possibility in the late 90s and was told it was planned for around 2001. Then it got shifted back, then again. Dale McKeel suggested I contact Douglas Galyon, with NC Board of Transportation who he will be meeting with on this matter to voice my support. I am posting this here hoping that others will also contact Mr. Galyon with their support for this improvement to our ease and safety in cycling on Estes.

Douglas Galyon
NC Board of Transportation
PO Box 14996
Greensboro, NC 27415-4996




Mr.McKeel has reccommended that if you contact Mr. Galyon to support this just to keep it simple, the connection to Williams Street has yet to be engineered and including that can confuse, so basically if you are for this and want to voice your support to the DOT just indicate you are for connecting the bike paths on Estes to N. Greensboro.

Thanks, Pat. The Estes Drive Ext. area is very problematic for cyclists and this project (coupled with others) will imporve the situation a lot.

Email sent. Thank you, Patrick!

its impossible for me to navigate down to see a friend that moved down to estes park apts unless theres a safe way to get down there i will not be going to visit her

Thanks for posting this!

Just fired off a letter myself. I nearly got hit on Estes 20 years ago--haven't biked on it since.


To avoid cycling on Estes I go to the end of Pleasant from N. Greensboro to where it dead ends and follow a dirt path to the Estes Apartments' parking lot, go left through the parking lot, then cross the railroad tracks on a dirt road but veer left onto a path that comes out at Village, right at the little cemetary there on Village, from there you can go to Umstead which you can use to connect to MLK Blvd ( where Fosters is) or go up Hillborough Street to Franklin Street.

Pat, here's an alternative I use MAP.

Along the same lines, I've been seeking clarity on the vague idea that the towns could put a greenway along the rail line that runs from Eubanks Road to Carolina North to downtown Carrboro. Much of the train line runs along the border between Chapel Hill and Carrboro, so it would require some cooperation. This would be a really great way to connect a lot of neighborhoods with downtown.

Meanwhile I will keep using the paths that Pat mentions above, which I wish Carrboro would improve so that it would be safer, better lit, and more accessible to all.

I ride on Estes extension all the time, and have for 20 years. So I dispute that it is problematic for bicyclists. What is the problem is whiny bicyclists who don't know how to well ride a bike and by their own road position make it better for themselves. They don't see themselves as legitimate road users and so teeter on the edge like lepers. They feel they are inconveniencing motorists and feel guilty because of it.

There is 10' of lane space and bicycles are 2' wide. That's a lot of nice smooth pavement to ride. Now, with the narrow shoulders, bicyclists are compelled to ride there by motorists who are conditioned to believe bicyclists should be on the shoulder. They defend what they now believe to be their turf, the "motor vehicle" lane to the left of the stripe.

Bike Reservations and paved shoulders are primarily for the benefit of motorists.


i ride in a wheelchair

Wayne, I ride on Estes extension all the time too, and I dispute your claim, which strikes me as a touch of bicycling machismo, that the problem lies with "whiny" bicyclists who refuse to assert themselves as a co-equal presence with cars on the road, and who refuse to occupy the driving lane rather than the shoulder.

You may be willing to risk your safety and go mano-a-mano with speed-limit-exceeding two-ton vehicles for a prime slice of pavement. I am not, and I'm even less willing to sacrifice my soon-to-be teenage daughters to the cause of bicycle equality.

Estes Extension -- especially the hill between Estes Park and North Greensboro, where the shoulder completely disappears -- needs width to accommodate bicycles (and pedestrians), even if it's just for us wimps and whiners.

Mr Pein,
Think you are a better bicycle rider than me? Think I'm whiny and don't know how to ride in traffic? You got any money to back those assumptions up in a wager?

Mr. Pein--

I am not a whiny bicycle rider and I know quite well how to ride. I also know my rights. UNFORTUNATELY---most motorists do not. Nor did they 20 years ago. I wasn't exagerating when I said I nearly got killed. I think a bike lane would help. You do not. We will have to agree to disagree.

ellen--unfortunately, it is illegal for you to ride in a bike lane...or in the road. The town needs SIDEWALKS as well...

Wayne - Pat is a former category 1 racer, State of NC "Best All Around", and daily bike commuter from Brooklyn to Manhattan. He's been knocked down, tossed up, and run over by various motor vehicles in his 40some odd years. A teller of bad jokes. An out of tune singer of songs. A mocker of other people's fancy pants ways. But a whiner? No, not that I'm aware of.

And I'm not just saying that because I'm married to him.

no its not im sorry the police say its fine


You are correct--I was mistaken. I was remembering a case where a friend in an electric wheelchair was told NOT to use said chair on the side of the road...even though there were no sidewalks available. (Speed limit ont he road was 35 mph.) I should know better than to work from memory! Next time--I'll look it up before I comment.

From the NC Statutes:
The ordinance in question:

(c) Use of Device. - An electric personal assistive mobility device may be operated on public highways with posted speeds of 25 miles per hour or less, sidewalks, and bicycle paths. A person operating an electric personal assistive mobility device on a sidewalk, roadway, or bicycle path shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and other human-powered devices. A person operating an electric personal assistive mobility device shall have all rights and duties of a pedestrian, including the rights and duties set forth in Part 11 of this Article.


Yea. Let's get together to see who is a better bike rider and bet money on it. Then we can grow up. But if you want to be competitive, come out to the Performance ride.

I'm sure Pat is a great guy and you are fabulous for coming to his rescue.

You apparently don't understand that using more of the lane is not risking safety, it is a "best of practice" by experienced bicyclists. Estes accommodates bicyclists just fine. It's motorists who are not accommodated when bicyclists are there.

You are incorrect that most motorists do not know bicyclists' rights. To claim so is the hallmark of a whiny bicyclist. They know it and they know to be nice to bicyclists, and the vast majority are. A few aren't. Big deal. Some white people don't like blacks.

I'm sorry that you took offense at my comment about whiny bicyclists. I wasn't refering to anyone. Almost every bicyclist I see teeters on the edge, doing exactly the opposite of what they should do. They don't ride as if they are legitimate road users. Then they blame it on the road and whine for their own space, cause they're special.

Bicyclists need to quit groveling for substandard road space known as debris filled bike lanes and ride like they own the road, which they do. If they feel the need to enable motorists to pass easier, make the lane wide, but don't reduce bicyclists' space and rights by painting a stripe. And for gosh sakes, quit blaming the road. It's ALL motorist and bicyclist behavior.


Wayne, while I'm waiting for your utopia to arrive, I think I'll keep pressing for more space on the shoulder.

And tomorrow, when I'm out on my bike and some teenagers from the high school come up from behind me in their car and scream out the passenger's window as they go by because it's "funny" to try to startle a cyclist (which happens to me once every other week, on average), or when a bunch of lawn maintenance guys in a pickup get impatient with the cars slowing down to give me berth and properly pass me, and gun the engine to screech past me at a distance of a foot or two (which also happens to me frequently), I'll be sure to refer them all to your website.

Mr. Pein--

Thank you for pointing out my error. I now see the error of my ways...and will endeavor to correct them.

Wayne - I find your perspective idiotic. When more bikers start acting like they "own the road" then there will be more accidents, if not on the crowded roads on Estes then on quiet country roads where wacko drivers will get their revengs on hard-headed cyclists. Pat - thanks for posting this - :)


I'll be on Estes Ext at the railroads tracks heading toward Carrboro at about 10:10 Sat morning on my way to the Performance ride. You can watch me get killed by a vengefull motorist for the 2872nd time from the apt complex driveway as I climb the hill.

Wayne, The Undead


It's not utopia. It's about preserving bicyclist's right to use as much of the lane, including the full lane, as we want when we want. That's the law.

If you want motorists to pass you easier, why don't you press for 15' lanes like on Estes from the library to Estes Elementary? Bike lanes reduce bicyclists' space and rights. And I fail to see how bike lanes prevent teenagers from being teenagers and bubbas from being bubbas.


Here is an article that gives some research about why bike lanes are safer and better than unmarked roadways.


That study by the Texas Transportation Institute is total crap: sloppy, methodologically flawed, unsupported conclusions, laced with ignorance, etc. I'm in the process of writing a critique of it. But you can read my critique of another study, the Bicycle Compatibility Index, that TTI in part used in coming to their conclusion at:

The TTI study to which you refer is here:


I don't imagine that there's anything anyone can say that will change Wayne's mind about bike lanes.

No, there isn't Ruby. Funny how I used to be a bike lane proponent for a brief spell. I've said before though that they are reasonable on freeway or near freeway design roads, like the bypass, but everywhere else they are the equivalent of seats in the back of the bus for blacks.


I agree with Wayne in that Estes, as it is, is rideable by bike. I ride it almost daily on my way to work from Carrboro to the Tymberlyne area. Negotiating that road does take confidence and riding know-how; as with any road anywhere, no matter what kind of vehicle you use, you are taking risks, largely associated with people driving illegally. But the perception of the general riding public is that Estes is not rideable; therefore, widening it would probably be helpful to get more people to use it.

But if there is an either/or choice between widening the road and putting in sidewalks, I believe the need for sidewalks takes precedence. Is the state also in charge of putting sidewalks along there, or is it the town of Carrboro?

OK, Wayne, I let the first racial analogy go, but now I'll bite.

I want a bike lane on Estes Extension.

Blacks did not want seats at the back of the bus.

So how, in the context of this conversation, are bike lanes like seats at the back of the bus?

I'm not black, but if I were, I think I might see your comparing a bicyclist's right to the middle of the road to the basic human rights of blacks as a little ... I don't know, trivializing.

Eric, you're undoubtedly being generous when you say it's "trivializing".

Eric, you should know better. Please don't feed the trolls.

In Copenhagen, while my parents were living there, we used to use these bike lanes, which run up and down nearly every major thoroughfare, and most of the minor ones:

The brilliant thing about it was that the cars themselves protected the bicyclists. And where there wasn't streetside parking, there were curbs that separated the car traffic from the bike traffic, and the bike traffic from the pedestrian traffic. This isn't terribly realistic on our typical two-lane (and, even, four lane) roads, but it worked out pretty well on the wide boulevards of Copenhagen.

These bike lanes were well-used, so much so that the ones on the major arteries were themselves divided to accomodate bicycle traffic going in opposite directions. After work, the bike lanes were usually busier than the traffic lanes. Walking in the bike lane was strictly prohibited and quickly corrected. As a result, everyone I knew had bicycles, even my parents! All the buses were fitted with bike racks, and bike rental places were common and cheap.

Most importantly, riding a bike anywhere in the city felt as safe as riding it on a bike path. As a result, we were more likely to use our bikes than try to pull our car out of the parking lot where it mostly sat, gathering dust, for trips into the country.

I guess, therefore, that I'm at odds with Wayne on how to accomodate bicycles. If a less autocentric city like Copehagen sees it necessary to hand over street real estate to the exclusive use of bicyclists in the interest of safety, I have a hard time believing that we can get by simply asserting the bicyclist' right to the road. The Danish solution acknowledges that bicycles have equal and exclusive right to a part of the public thoroughfare, but it's also practical enough to recognize that bicycles are not cars and are more vulnerable.

I'll also say that I'm impressed with the amount of research that Wayne Pein has done on this issue, which is all over the web. Worth reading.

I'm wondering whether it wouldn't have been possible (and still might be possible) to switch up the order of lanes on Cameron Ave. as an experiment, and instead of placing the bike lanes on the inside of the parking lane, reversing the order and placing the bike lanes against the curb and the parking lane next to the traffic lane. Just a thought.

To anticipate some of Wayne's objections, based on my reading of his papers on the subject, I'll add one more thing to my description of Copenhagen's bike lanes and the roads in general: throughout the city, traffic control measures -- stop lights and stop signs, pedestrian crossing signals, etc -- were far more frequently used than you see around here. Bicyclists and motorists both stopped for the same stop signs and stop lights, and penalties for ignoring them were severe regardless of whether you were in a car or on a bike. (And also, they were likely to be levied because there were lots of neighborhood police around to watch and enforce). If there was a parking lane in between bicyclists and motorists, it ended early before an intersection so that motorists and bicyclists had unobstructed views of each other at intersections. Even though they had their own lane, bicyclists yielded and obeyed the traffic laws like autos.

Just throwing out ideas.


Some bicyclists say they like bike lanes yet often grumble about many aspects of them (such as inevitable debris, too narrow, ending inappropriately, busses/motor vehicles stop in them, mandatory use in places, etc.). Further, they often fail to understand or acknowledge a fair comparison to a road with the same total width but without the stripe. (Does the stripe really make bicycling better, and is it merely psychologically better or functionally better?) For these people, the analogy of seats in the back of the bus isn't fully appropriate.

For myself and those who are like minded (and there are many), the analogy is very apropo.



Bike lanes are not a good idea to the right of parked vehicles. How do you make a left turn into a driveway from there?

Bicycling in many European cities is practical because the compact distances make riding very slow speeds not so prohibitive time wise, which is why they often have what would be dangerous bicycle facilities at higher bicycling speeds. Our larger distances mean in order to use the bicycle you've got to move faster.

Some people tout the vulnerableness of bicycles as justification for bike lanes or other type facilities. But motorcyclists are just as vulnerable, and they don't need special facilities. So, the alleged vulnerability of bicyclists must be in getting hit from behind. Yet, this is not a collision mechanism that lawfully operating bicyclists typically are involved in. It's all in the head.

Cameron is a travesty. It's a low speed street that doesn't need bike lanes. The two travel lanes were 22.5 feet wide prior to the goofy bike lane striping. Now, campus bound bicyclists are constrained to a narrow, debris filled width up against the curb. Motorists in both directions are given gun barrel lanes at the prime road location that has been cleared of bicyclists. Carrboro bound bicyclists get a goofy noodle of a lane that brings them close to the edge at vulnerable points such as Mallete street where emerging motorists nose into the bike lane because of restricted sight lines.

My question to bike lane supporters is, "Why aren't wide lanes not great places to ride a bike?"



I agree that wide "roads" (distinguished from "lanes", but related) are the first requirement to creating a healthy biking environment, whether one wants bike lanes or not. (I've now read much of your research.) I agree that Cameron was once a good place to bike, and now not so much. (That intersection at Mallette is truly frightening, for car and bicyclist alike.)

But, do you think people around here would accept the necessity of building wider roads? You can get around this somewhat by repainting shoulder lines, but at some point you've got to accept a different standard for street building. And I'm not sure that more asphalt is the kind of thing people around here would support.

There's a road down here in Pittsboro (Hwy 64 Biz) that I bike sometimes to get to the post office. Most of the way, you're taking your life in your hands: narrow lane, no shoulder. But about 75 yards from the Masonic Temple, the lanes suddenly doubles in width, and every time I hit that stretch I breath a hell of a lot easier, even though there's no paint or other traffic device separating me from the cars passing by. (It's also a 25 mph zone approaching a traffic circle, so cars aren't going that fast at that point, anyway).

So, my answer to your question is that wide lanes _are_ great places to ride, so long as motorists don't decide to treat them as unpainted dual lanes. Unfortunately, I've also seen cars use the right side of that wide lane as a passing lane, which isn't cool when you're trying to ride in it.


Oh, and to answer your question about turning left from a parking-lane protected bike lane ... in Copenhagen, there were also lots of light protected crosswalks. What I would do, and most of the other cyclists would do, would be to get off the bike and join the pedestrian traffic crossing to the left. Sometimes you'd have to walk a block or so on the sidewalk (sidewalks were very wide also) to get to your turn, but it was a minor inconvenience.

Car driver's perspective. For about eight years in my youth a bicycle was my primary transportation, on fairly heavily used town and country roads, nary a bike path (or bike helmet) to be seen). Since then I've sat on a bike maybe twice. So I watch this discussion more as voyeur than participant, and offer my two cents for what it's worth.
Seems to me that there are some clarifications to be made around definitions and populations. First of all, there seem to be two kinds of bike users - recreational and transportational (with much crossover) with very different needs and perspectives. Recreational users have the luxury of being able to seek out pleasant rides, while transportational users getting from A to B are choosing optimal routes from the options available to them. Bike lanes, because they cannot be implemented everywhere, would seem better suited to recreational rather than transportational use, unless there is a coherent program for making all roads safely available to bicycle users. This there patently is not. I would agree with Wayne that much bike lane implementation as it is practised hereabouts actually seems to make things more dangerous, particularly at intersections and terminations. Seawell School road is a case in point.

The second comment I'd like to make is that there seems to be a common misperception among both cyclists and non-cyclists that the white stripes along the edge of many roads, both city and rural, demarcate bike lanes. These stripes are intended as a visual aid to all road users to gauge available travel lane width, especially in conditions of bad visibility, no more. The fact that they do not indicate bike lanes is often obscured by the margin of blacktop on the right side of these lines is sometimes a couple of feet or more in width as well as by the fact that they look just like bike lane striping. As a driver I'm very concerned when I see cyclists trying to use these margins as a lane even when they shrink to only a few inches in width. The potential for a cyclist to end up losing the road and being thrown from their bike by the rut at the blacktop edge is considerable, as are the potential secondary consequences - high-speed motorized traffic swerving and crossing the center stripe, for example. That's a situation in which I really don't want to be an innocent participant, whatever vehicle I'm in or on. As a car driver, I'd rather a cyclist was out in the road where I could see 'em and where their movements are predictable, even if that means I have to slow down once in a while on an uphill grade.

While I'm not as fast as either Wayne or Pat, I have been
riding a bicycle almost every day since I was a little kid and
use my bike to get around Chapel Hill every day. A
good friend of mine, who is a superb biker, teaches his kids
"Pretend that every motorist is out to
get you, and pick the safest place to ride, whether it is a
bike lane, the right edge of the road without bike lanes,
or the sidewalk."

My favorite example is the uphill direction of South Columbia
from Mason Farm to Manning. I can't keep up with the
cars, and if I ride on the edge of the pavement, I'm six inches
from death at the hands of a dump truck, so I ride on the
sidewalk. I'm sure that some bicycle purists would say I'm
doing the wrong thing, but the way I see it, when I'm lying
in a hospital bed with 20 broken bones, it doesn't do me any
good to say that I was right.

Joe, I thought my families biking habits were a secret between us ;-)! Sorry Wayne, we ride Joe-style.

I must admit that I prefer Joe style also. I am currently an avid mountain biker who gave up long distance road biking a while back.


When lanes are wide, it is good for motorists to ride at the right side of it because that keeps the area free of debris. They don't operate there when bicyclists are present. In contrast, when a bike lane is striped, the bike lane harbors debris.

Sometimes it is ok for a bicyclist to dismount and act like a pedestrian to make a left. I wouldn't want to design it into the system though.



You are correct about shoulder stripes. Most motorists and many bicyclists believe that if a shoulder exists, no matter how narrow, bicyclists should be to the right of the line. I see many bicyclists teetering on the edge of Homestead Road, while motorists assume they can whip on by without changing trajectory or speed.

Shoulders are intended to prevent run off road accidents and provide buffer from roadside elements. They are not for vehicular travel. They are for higher order roads intended to facilitate faster and more motor traffic. At some point in the past, some knucklehead got the bad idea to put a bike lane sign on a shoulder and compel bicyclists to be there.

It's not hard to ride a bike on any road and it's not hard for motorists to be cautious and considerate. I can do both and so can anyone else.



Your friend may allegedly be a superbe bicyclist (however, I doubt it), but he is a foolish teacher.

Motorists are not out to get bicyclists and it is ignorant and counterproductive to suggest it. Following that up with saying "pick the safest place to ride" can only mean cower as far away as possiblefrom the boogey man behind the wheel . It leads to fear, loathing, and poor bicycling.

The two of you should quit sensationalizing and fear mongering.



One other thing about the "motorists out to get you" notion. Is it only motorists from behind who are out to get bicyclists or is it also those pulling out from side streets and driveways or oncoming and making a left turn? What is your friend's suggested countermeasure for those predators?

See the folly of the generic advice to "pick the safest place to ride?"


Wayne, might I suggest..

As for riding on sidewalks, my only desire is that bicyclists pick one or the other. You are supposed to be a vehicle, so act like one, stop at every red light, don't make right hand turns if the sign says you are not allowed, etc. But, if you decide to get up on a sidewalk, act like a pedestrian, wait for crosswalk signals, only cross at designated areas and the like.

I don't think teaching young kids, of which I have two, to be defensive drivers is a bad idea at all. In fact, suggesting teaching caution to a child it is an awful idea smacks of the opinion of one who has none.

Biking on the sidewalk is never a good idea, except maybe for young children with training wheels. Sidewalks are designed for pedestrian traffic moving at walking speed, not for any kind of vehicular traffic.

You might be right, but it happens, so I would like those folks to act like pedestrians and move at a slow speed and not fly through pedestrian crossings. I once saw an undergrad at UF get clipped by a car doing just such a thing in Gainesville.


My problem with saying things like "be defensive" is that it doesn't say anything meaningful. It's like "be safe." Nice, but what are the specific techniques to be defensive or safe? That is what is useful, not some generic admonition to be careful.

You chastise me saying that I think its bad to teach children caution, putting words in my mouth. Is this a purposeful manipulation or are your reading skills poor?

Apparently you haven't read anything I've written about bicyclist education. I've given much effort to educate the public, with no reward to myself, but if the public decides to be ignorant, there is little I can do about it.

Online efforts:

I've written a booklet Road Vogue that is/was available in local bike shops. Among other things, it describes how to ride so called difficult roads in Chapel Hill. I also wrote tri-fold brochures that are distributed at CH street fairs.

I also have no idea why you are lecturing me/venting about sidewalk riding or obeying traffic law.




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