A Duke-UNC Bike Route: A Simple Idea With a Big Price

This story initially appeared on-line at The ninth Street Journal.

Phil Remmers had a easy query for Durham City Council on Thursday: Why is it so tough to cycle between Durham and Chapel Hill?

Remmers, an avid bicycle owner who lives within the Southpoint space, spoke on the metropolis council’s enterprise session to name for a safer devoted bike lane between Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill .

“You have two big hospital systems and two big universities with a big young population, and I think if a bike path similar to the American Tobacco Trail was built between Duke and UNC, it would be extremely popular,” Remmers, 55. , pastor and chairman of the nonprofit Robert Morrison Project, advised City Council.

But transportation officers say constructing the type of devoted bike lane Remmers desires isn’t any straightforward job.

Representatives from the state Department of Transportation and the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization say the undertaking could be pricey. Dale McKeel, the bicycle and pedestrian co-ordinator on the planning group, stated there are lots of competing wants for funding for bicycle and pedestrian routes.

“We have a lot of streets that have a high percentage of residents who don’t own a car, and yet some of those streets don’t have sidewalks, don’t have bus stops, and don’t have bus shelters. “, McKeel said in a phone. interview. “The sidewalks and these different amenities are funded from the identical pot of cash that might be used for a path just like the one Mr. Remmers is proposing.”

The planning group has encountered bureaucratic obstacles previously. The group utilized for funding so as to add cycle lanes alongside Erwin Road, a direct route between Durham and Chapel Hill, on a number of events between 2006 and 2013. But, like many foremost thoroughfares in Durham and different cities , Erwin Road is maintained by the State Department of Transportation. The functions didn’t meet the state’s standards and the undertaking was blocked.

Despite the challenges, McKeel says protected cycle routes between Durham and Chapel Hill have lengthy been a precedence for transport officers. In 2018 Durham and Chapel Hill accomplished a multi-million greenback undertaking on Old Chapel Hill Road which added sidewalks and cycle lanes from Garrett Road in Durham to Pope Road in Chapel Hill. Although this isn’t a direct route between Duke and UNC, the undertaking presents some help to cyclists alongside a part of this route.

A comparable undertaking, the Bike + Walk Implementation Plan 2017, goals to construct a cycle path between Garrett Road and Hope Valley Road in Durham. Sean Egan, Durham’s director of transport, says implementing the 2017 plan is among the many metropolis’s prime priorities.

Remmers is conscious of the plans underway, however fears they’re doing little to guard the protection of native cyclists. “The majority of proposed bike projects are simply painted lines on the road with cars speeding by at 40 to 50 miles per hour…and with drivers talking on their cellphones,” Remmers stated in an e mail afterward. the assembly. During Thursday’s enterprise session, he urged town council to focus its time, power and cash on a devoted path that would supply extra safety for cyclists.

Remmers stays optimistic that Durham and Chapel Hill will at some point be linked by cycle paths. “Eventually, something will have to change.”

This story was printed by a partnership between INDY and the ninth Street Journal, which is produced by journalism college students at Duke University’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy.

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