The Three-Speed City

Bird scooter parked at a bike rack on Fayetteville Street.

Ever since the electric scooter company, Bird, deployed in Raleigh everyone seems to have an opinion on this new form of personal mobility. Raleighites seem to be all over the spectrum but a recent survey run by the Raleigh DLA shows strong evidence that a majority of downtown residents and workers support e-scooters in downtown Raleigh but with some type of new regulation.

You can dive into those results here.

Mobility within Raleigh’s downtown has seen so much change since this whole revitalization thing started. I wonder if we’re getting closer to getting it right or still struggling with it.

Downtown Raleigh is too small to drive from one place to another yet big enough that walking from district to district feels far. (at least for most people I think) This presents a great opportunity for short-trip mobility services such as bikeshare, electric scooters, rickshaws, rideshare, and the R-Line circulator.

Personally, I love the plethora of options to move around. If I need to get from Seaboard Station to the southern end of Fayetteville Street, I could easily walk if it’s a nice day and I have the time, ride the R-Line for free and get there a little faster, ride a scooter for cheap and get there even faster, or request a ride in a car and be there quickly.

My impression of Raleigh right now is that no one is against having options. What the DLA survey suggests is that problems are arising when these options are conflicting with each other. It seems we have a city built for two speeds with a third speed emerging as a popular option and this new speed is struggling to find it’s space.

Generally speaking, pedestrians are annoyed by scooters on the sidewalk. Sure, it’s illegal and Bird informs users to use the street, a bike lane if available, but personal comfort levels vary widely. Not everyone is comfortable on the street so the sidewalk is a natural “safe” place. You become the dominant user on the sidewalk versus the pushover on the street.

A combination of education and safer streets are probably the cure for this rising middle speed. Also, a part of me thinks that over time users will become used to using scooters that they’ll be more confident on the streets. (I’ve seen some very nervous looking scooter riders out there!)

The quick adoption of scooters in downtown Raleigh is what bicycle advocates have been waiting for. It’s brought the conversation for safer streets for middle speed users front and center. How our city responds will be telling as trends point to more and more of this coming.

The day of the bike lane is over. It needs a new name.

There’s lot of chatter about dockless scooter in Raleigh on the DTRaleigh Community.

Pic of the Week

107 West Hargett demolition. September 2018.

The building at 107 West Hargett Street is being partially demolished. Covered in detail here, we can see that the rear, one-story section has been removed and will now have a five-story building that incorporates the brick, street-facing building that sits on the same property.

I’m a big fan of this project and would love to see more reuses of older Raleigh while still adding density to our downtown.

Waiting on the Blount and Person Street Phase I Makeover

Blount Street. September 2018.

Blount Street. September 2018. A bike lane is planned to be installed this Fall.

With planning going back to 2013, the first phase of the makeover for the Blount and Person Street duo should be starting soon. Design work for Phase 1 of the corridor has been completed and last I heard, the construction bids are out now.

The project can be summed up according to this excerpt from a City Manager’s Weekly Report:

The design of the Phase I Implementation of the Blount Street – Person Street Corridor Study is complete. The project will reconfigure pavement markings and install a continuous bike lane on both streets from Hoke Street to Old Louisburg Road. North of Edenton Street, the streets will be resurfaced and curb ramps will be upgraded. The design of the project will reconfigure Blount Street and Person Street to both have two consistent lanes of standard width. It will also reconfigure Wake Forest Road as a three-lane avenue, with one travel lane in each direction, a center turn lane, and bike lanes.

That’s a pretty nice and lengthy bike lane as Hoke to Old Louisburg is almost three miles. Bonus that both streets are getting a lane which offers long rides in each direction.

The project should wrap up by the end of the year and then start moving on towards more aspects of the Blount Street – Person Street Corridor Plan.

We’re tracking this and other bike lanes on the DTRaleigh community. Join the conversation.

Pic of the Week

FNB Tower construction. August 2018.

The last time we checked in on FNB Tower, the crane had just showed up and things were getting started. Now, almost three months later it looks like the tower is making some real upward momentum with a floor being produced almost once per two weeks.

Next, we’ll have to take a look at how City Plaza looks and feels with all the properties around it being filled in. It’s exciting to see what will be Raleigh’s fourth tallest tower take shape.

For more frequent updates, the community is all over FNB Tower sharing photos from all different angles. Join us!

Pic of the Week

Morgan Street Food Hall. August 2018.

The Morgan Street Food Hall is now open! There are plenty of dining options for lunch and dinner throughout with a little retail on the side as well.

Make sure to check out the vendors on their website ahead of time to avoid getting stuck in the crowds when it’s busy. Lunch and dinner have been packed from what I hear and with the cool weather about to show up, the food hall is sure to be pretty lively.

The place looks great and is a far cry from the club/bars that used to pack this warehouse years ago. Kudos to the team behind it and I look forward to many visits!

We’re chatting about Morgan Street Food Hall on the DTRaleigh Community. Join us.

The PNC Spire Lights Up Downtown Raleigh for 10 Years


See tweet by @metroscenes of fireworks with the Raleigh skyline on Twitter.

Ten years ago today, there was a dedication ceremony held on the roof of our city’s tallest building. The spire of the PNC Plaza, then called RBC Plaza, was lit up for the first time. As I noted in this August 2008 post, then RBC Bank CEO Scott Custer said:

The lighting of the RBC Plaza is a symbol of the progress of the revitalization of downtown Raleigh.

Ten years have gone by and the 33-story PNC Plaza is still the tallest building around. That could mean a number of things. Some of us may measure progress with height and flash while others with amenities and vibrancy.

A lot has happened over the last ten years in downtown Raleigh including a great recession that scrapped plenty of projects that may have joined PNC Plaza’s height. A wave of apartments has crashed in downtown Raleigh since then and PNC Plaza remains the only building with residential units at that height.

You could say PNC Plaza was the end of an era.

RBC Plaza under construction seen from the Boylan Bridge. May 2008.

RBC Plaza under construction seen from the Boylan Bridge. May 2008.

While height above 30 floors doesn’t seem to be something popping up in and around downtown Raleigh since the completion of PNC Plaza, downtown continues to deliver new buildings that are filling in around her. People keep moving here and new businesses continue to open up here.

I’d like to think that the PNC Plaza spire lighting up ten years ago wasn’t exactly a symbol of our revitalization but rather the homing beacon for future newcomers. It’s also a welcome home sign to long-term residents journeying back.

It may be hard to spot but you can see it with the right window seat when landing at RDU at night.

It’s become a part of our home.

Here’s hoping we never miss a night with that light off.

Come discuss this and other downtown Raleigh-related topics on the DTRaleigh community.

The Cabarrus Street Train Station Has Now Been Demolished

Demolition of the train station on Cabarrus Street. August 2018.

All the attention, rightfully so, is going towards our new Union Station. That has left the former station on Cabarrus empty for only a short while. It has now been demolished and cleared away.

Some pieces, including the benches and some of the wood canopy, were saved. Now the lot sits empty waiting the next development to make way. You can revisit the former station here in this photo gallery I posted in January of 2018.

Pic of the Week

Construction of the new addition for Davie Street Presbyterian. August 2018.

Construction is moving along over at Davie Street Presbyterian Church. The new addition will add a lot more space to the historic church at the corner of Davie and Person. See more about the plans here.

Come discuss this project and others on the downtown Raleigh Community.

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