Progress never comes fast enough.
That was evident at this morning’s Fourth Annual Triangle Bike and Pedestrian Workshop, where local transportation planners got together to talk about progress made in 2013 and share what’s on the drawing board for this year and beyond. Nothing like getting a look under the tree a year or more in advance.
Still, presents are presents. One of the less tangible gifts was the presence of NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata, who seems keen on the idea of an inclusive NCDOT.
“One of the reasons people move here at such a high rate is the standard of living issue,” he said, noting that greenways, sidewalks and safe roads for bikes — non-motorized transportation, that is — is a big part of that package.
In the progress department, there were the usual front-runners.
- 70-plus miles of greenway, more than 50 miles of which is paved
- 400-plus miles of sidewalk
- 25 miles of striped bike lanes or lanes with sharrows
- 89 miles of signed bike routes
- Most roads, and all new roads, have extra-wide outside lanes
All reasons Cary is an easy place to get around on foot or by bike. For the most part. And there was good news on that front as well. One of the town’s more ambitious projects for 2014: a $7 million program to make the Walnut Creek bridge over U.S. 64 pedestrian friendly. If you’re familiar with this bridge, you know that it is currently one of the least-friendly bridges for non-four wheel types on the planet: I live in the hood, and every time I see someone walking it — which is often — I say a little prayer for them. Good for Cary.
Delk said the city also has 43 greenway projects totaling 22.8 miles underway, three of which are especially intriguing:
Connecting the White Oak Creek Greenway from Bond Park to the American Tobacco Trail. Currently, the trail stops a couple miles shy, at Green Level Church Road. But the connection will soon be made. (Apex gets a nod on this project as well, since Cary must build part of the trail on land in Apex’s jurisdiction.)
Actually, there’s another missing link in the White Oak Trail, just east of Davis Drive. The town has been dealing with CSX, the railroad people, for years, and according to Delk, now has a solution. Delk noted the additional significance of the White Oak connections: together with Cary’s Black Creek Greenway, Umstead State Park’s bike ‘n’ bridle trail, and the nearing completion of Raleigh’s Crabtree Creek and Neuse River trails, the East Coast Greenway will be complete through the Triangle.
Erik Landfried, chairman of the Durham Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Council, had these Bull City highlights:
- Currently 22 miles of bike lanes in the city
- 202 bikes were ridden to last year’s inaugural Durham Bulls Bike to the Ballpark event.
- 1.5 percent of Durhamites commute to work by bike
- According to a DBPAC survey, people are more inclined to ride their bike in Durham for fun and recreation than for utilitarian purposes (ride to work, to the store, to school, etc.)
Jennifer Baldwin, the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, borrowed a page from Cary and also took a shock-and-awe approach:
60 miles of onroad bike lanes by 2015 (up from four in 2009)
107 miles of greenway (95 of which are paved)
A soon-to-be completed 27.5-mile Neuse River Trail
A soon-to-be-extended-by-4.1-miles Crabtree Creek Trail (14.3 miles total)
A just-completed 15.6-mile Walnut Creek Trail
Cool thing that just happened: Raleigh has installed two HAWK signals on the recently expanded Falls of Neuse Road. The signals are exclusively for pedestrian crosswalks.
Cool thing that will happen: Raleigh’s first “cycle track” — a segregated, two-way bike lanes that will be installed on Gorman Street between Sullivan Street and Hillsborough.
Wake Forest made its first appearance at the annual workshop. Among other things, Senior Planner Candace Davis:
- Unveiled Wake Forest’s new “Bike Walk Run” map. (Nice to see running getting some love; the map shows both paved and more foot-friendly natural surface trails.)
- Caught up for not attending in 2012 by noting the WF pedestrian bridge over the Neuse River linking Raleigh’s Neuse River Trail with WF’s Smith Creek Greenway
- Observed that while the 0.3-mile extension of the Dunn Creek Greenway may sound small, it includes a tunnel under treacherous NC 98 and links the greenway with downtown.