Poll: Bike Lanes In Downtown

Our last poll results are in for the two month long poll and the obvious is even more obvious. When asked about the activities that visitors generally do downtown, food and drink tops the list. With few major attractions in downtown, eating and drinking is the main draw. This all revolves around downtown’s growing nightlife crowd. If the residential population was larger then the poll may have had a different outcome. I was actually very surprised that no one voted for the Imax Theater. You do know we have one in downtown, right?

The newest poll comes after a recent (and cold) bike ride in downtown. There have been discussions about incorporating bike lanes with Hillsborough Street’s renovation in the section in front of NC State. This does not involve downtown but how would you feel about an increase of dedicated bike lanes on the streets?

The easiest implementation of them would be to mark the lanes separate from the car lanes next to them. We are a long way away from median separated bike lanes so this change would be a little drastic at first. I can see the argument for bike lanes but have always believed in traffic calming techniques so that cars and bicycles can share the lanes together. Cars are not always to blame when there is a bicycle/car accident and negligent cyclists put themselves at risk when they do not follow the rules of the road.

If you currently ride, what changes would enhance the experience? If don’t ride, what is keeping you from ditching the car and riding the couple miles to downtown?

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    None right now. Must be a new project.


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  1. What’s the purpose of the “cars are not always to blame” ish?

    What does everyone feel the need, when discussing bicycle advocacy type issues to point the finger at cyclists. Of course motorists are not always to blame when they hit a cyclist. Drunk drivers aren’t ALWAYS to blame when they run over a pedestrian either. But you never see someone taking that opportunity to point out all the negligent jaywalkers around town.


    Anyway, saying “bicycle lanes” is an extremely vague term. In an extremely vague way, I am in favor of them even though I do not usually want to ride in one. It is highly dependent on where they are located, and how they are designed.

    Take the so-called bike lane on Ridge Rd for example. They striped the lane, signed it as a bike lane, put up signs prohibiting bicycles on the sidewalks 24/7, and then placed signs allowing cars to park in the bike lane 85-90% of the time. Now, you have created a situation where motorists expect you to be in a lane that is now blocked by parked cars and are more upset with your presence than they would have otherwise been.

    No, I do not want THAT kind of bike lane.

  2. I think Raleigh is on the verge of gaining the sort of population density where bicycling will become a more popular mode of transportation than it has been in the past. Numerous reports over the last few years has pointed to the ideas that greater access to separated bike lanes leads to increased bike ridership, and that greater numbers of bike riders actually increases the overall safety of all those riding bikes in a given area due to greater visibility/awareness on the part of car drivers.

    I would absolutely LOVE for Raleigh to become more like Portland, Oregon or even New York (which has been adding bike lanes in droves over the last year or two) in promoting bike transportation as a solution to traffic congestion and local obesity. I have been considering purchasing a bike and using it as at least a partial mode of transit so that I can reduce my reliance on my car. Adding bike lanes along significant routes in Raleigh (not just Downtown) would absolutely seal the deal for me, and probably many others in town.

  3. I’d also like to add that, along with bike lanes, the city needs to add bike racks in high visibility areas so that people have sturdy and safe places to lock their bikes.

  4. There are places in Raleigh that desperately need bicycle lanes way more than downtown. They’d be nice, but I’ve gotten along fine without them.

    Most streets downtown have relatively slow traffic and multiple wide lanes for a bicycle to travel…plus sidewalks. And with the square-grid layout of the streets, if you find one street too busy or dangerous, there’s another one parallel to it going to the same place. :-)

    Maybe on the Dawson/McDowell corridors they’d be useful some…but I always either used the sidewalks or just went to a parallel street that was less busy. And I could sorta see the need on Glenwood…but again, Boylan & West Streets run parallel so they make a good way to avoid it.

  5. This discussion reminds me of my trip to new York where they added bike lanes recently. Seems great except that one bike lane runs right through Times Square where they closed off Broadway to traffic. Tourists are looking up in the sky at billboards and video screens and not looking at the bike lanes. I saw about 25 near misses of pedestrian vs bicyclist. Why they routed a bike lane through there is beyond me. I can understand the bicyclists frustration, but if I were riding my bike I wouldn’t go through Times Square knowing that somebody is guaranteed to walk out in front of me. Hopefully Raleigh has better planning.

    On a different topic how ironic is it that they are tearing up the old trolley lines on Hillsborough Street for the new traffic roundabouts. I bet within in 10 years they approve new mass transit and tear up the roundabouts for new trolley lines!

  6. Raleigh can’t move that fast. If they were going to tear it up in 10 years they would have had to have already approved it.

    You’re right though, but unfortunately everything around here has to be auto-centric.

    One thing I do know is that roundabouts on a bicycle suck. Just expect the cars not to yield.

  7. I actually found the new roundabout much better than the way Hillsborough was working, except for the terrible road conditions, of course.

    Bike lanes would make sense on a lot of roads. For downtown, I do not see a need for bike lanes on streets that runs east and west. The traffic is slow and you have to stop for lights every couple of blocks anyway. Bicycles should not be part of Dawson/McDowell. That is way too much of a thoroughfare. Bike lanes on Wilmington and Salisbury would make sense, but not with parking the way it is. Lanes should not run close to parallel parking because of many dangers, most importantly the risk of being “doored”.

    The biggest need of bike lanes is just outside the downtown core. It is really hard for unseasoned cyclist or people without a great knowledge of back streets to navigate and get to places just a few miles outside of downtown. There is no easy way to travel north out of downtown on a bike. The only real safe way to go is to take St. Mary’s/Lassiter for the average rider, but they must tackle one of the biggest hills in the city.

    All in all if more bike lanes lead to more people biking, less people biking on sidewalks and less people biking on the wrong side of the road, then I am in full support.

    In case people have not come across it the city really does have a lot of data and planning in process:

  8. While that’s true, it’s sort of like drivers saying downtown needs more parking spaces. There are MORE than enough parking spaces in the decks. What people are saying is they want more parking spaces right in front of the place they want to go.

    I have never seen the racks in the decks full.

    An advocate would point out that more racks would increase cycling, but Raleigh seems to have zero interest in encouraging cycling. Here’s the advocacy plan though. You get the tourists to ride bikes. How? I don’t know, but if you get the tourists on bikes govt. will fall over themselves to accommodate them. Sure, it would just be a bike lane from the hotel to the convention center to the RBC center, but it’s a start right?

  9. The bike racks in the deck never made sense to me. It seemed to be a way for the city to just be able to say that there are racks, but not really wanting them to be used. One of the great advantages of biking is that you can go straight to your destination. This makes using a bike downtown faster that using a car point-to-point.

    Racks could be a great artist project for downtown. I would love to see unique racks located around downtown and not just ugly metal frames.

  10. Well, if you were planning a city and had no interest in encouraging one form of transportation over the other, why wouldn’t you put all parking in the same location?

    If you want things to change, someone with some power and a budget has to buy in.

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