Pic of the Week

Have you seen them yet? The Citrix Cycle bikeshare system is finally up and running albeit in a limited capacity. The system has “soft launched” with more stations coming online throughout this month and next.

The electric-assist bicycles have been very enjoyable to ride. I know I have been eager to see this system up and running and the timing is great as the warmer months approach.

Buses, Bikes, and Sidewalks in the Downtown Transportation Plan

Last week, the most recent version of the Downtown Transportation Plan was released to the public and those behind it are looking for your feedback.

Dive right into it at goraleigh.org/downtownplan

What is BRT? Click for larger.

This downtown plan attempts to lay out the groundwork for how our future transit system will work within the downtown area. The future bus network of Raleigh will consist of bus-rapid transit lanes and higher frequency bus routes that are running longer hours. Combined with an expanded bicycle network, the downtown portion presents some pretty unique challenges.

The streets aren’t getting any wider so reallocating space is a community-driven conversation that is currently starting. When we talk about dedicated bus lanes for faster service that means less space for other things on our downtown streets.

Online survey feedback shows a desire for non-car mobility. Click for larger.

Full build out is planned for 2027 and with portions relying on state and federal funding, applications are being prepared right now!

When you look at the plan, you’ll see near, mid, and long-term plans for the downtown portion of the bus rapid network. The routes aren’t set in stone as different variables and decisions that haven’t been made may impact those routes.

Below are the maps for the three plans, meshed together for easier viewing. Click for a larger view.

Planned to be up and running in 2023, the east Raleigh BRT line is the first of the rapid transit lines to come online. Moving east/west down New Bern Avenue and Edenton Streets, this route has the least amount of impacts from a historical and infrastructure perspective.

I also think it’s sort of the most obvious when you look at serving the eastern portion of the city. Plus, the current bus route along this corridor has the second-highest ridership in the system. (only behind the Capital Boulevard route)

Mid-term, the BRT routes serving the west and south will come online connecting at GoRaleigh Station. The route down Western Boulevard is also most direct while a choice still exists for the routes to the south. Saunders, McDowell/Dawson, and Wilmington Street could all be possible entry/exit points to downtown. There are still two many outside variables that need to be determined so this has been left open.

Last, parts to the north have many variables in play here, leaving several options on the table. Integrating Raleigh Union Station’s bus facility and the west street extension could play a role in how this route helps tie the network together.

Along side all of this is a greatly expanded bicycle network. A mix of protected lanes and non-protected lanes will be added as a way to compliment the bus traffic moving throughout downtown. This is shown through another map below.

Full build out bicycle facilities. Click for larger.

There is a lot to consider here when looking at the plan so far. As unpopular as it may sound, I worry about the fact that downtown is on a path to having two bus stations with GoRaleigh’s recent renovations and RUSbus being planned to integrate into train travel (Amtrak and future commuter rail) at Union Station. Won’t this bifurcate the system as it approaches downtown? I fear this may slow things down canceling out the improvements we’ve provided through dedicated lanes.

This BRT plan is still only one layer, one lens of the entire thing though. I’ll be really interested to see the full build out and future plan with all modes coexisting. That means with local bus, rapid bus, commuter rail, and bicycles lanes, the system just might function more robustly and speedier than I think.

What do you think? We have a huge discussion going on the Community. Come share.

See the Downtown Transit Plan Maps Side-by-Side

Combined graphic with all 4 downtown transit plan scenarios.

Click for larger

GoRaleigh is working on the downtown portion of the Wake Transit Plan and there are lots of factors to consider here as additional bus service is in place. The bus-rapid-transit lines have, more or less, been planned but how they connect and transfer in and around the downtown area is still a work in progress.

The large graphic above comes from the latest draft of the plan which you can see here. For my own review, and maybe yours, I’ve chopped up the maps and compiled them into the large graphic above so you can see the plans side-by-side.

BRT is a hot topic over on the Community so I invite others to come discuss this as it will have a pretty sizeable impact on downtown mobility in the future.

Pic of the Week

Recently installed bikeshare station at GoRaleigh Station. November 2018.

The first Raleigh bikeshare system, Citrix Cycle, is rolling out with stations being installed in multiple locations. Above, the station for GoRaleigh Station across from Moore Square is in place, minus the bicycles of course. The last update I heard is that the system should be available for use before the end of the year.

See more about the system including the full map of stations over at Citrix Cycle.

Pic of the Week

RUSbus cross section

More of a rendering or cross-section this week. As I was looking through the RUSbus grant application, I noticed this diagram of how the mixed-use project could look like. Now this isn’t set in stone by any means but I take it as what the planners have in mind including market-rate and affordable housing, hotel, office, and retail space. Being a transit hub as well, this may be the most mixed-use project in downtown Raleigh.

See more at rusbusnc.com.

Lime Scooters Deploy in Raleigh

Lime scooters in front of the Raleigh Convention Center

A second dockless scooter company is now operating in Raleigh. Lime has brought their electric scooters to the area and just like Bird have them concentrated in the downtown area.

Lime technically gets the award for the first dockless provider in Raleigh with the launch of their bikes around the NC State area. You might occasionally see them downtown but not reliably from my experience. That’s kind of by design since they were launched in a partnership with the university and not the city.

This makes two scooter companies operating in the area which expands the overall number of vehicles, providing more choice to the end user. As of this writing, the city is drafting dockless scooter regulations so the drama over this new form of transportation may not be over.

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.

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.