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.

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.

Raleigh Union Station is Now Open

Raleigh Union Station sign

After a few delays (which we’ll all forget about in no time) Raleigh Union Station is now officially open and taking/dropping off passengers. There are a total of 10 daily trains coming and going and the size of the station leaves plenty of room for growth. It is a true future-proof station.

The station is inviting and, locally, it’s a destination so make some time to get down and visit if you haven’t been.

While not a hub of activity at this time, the station felt exactly the same to me the day I walked down Fayetteville Street in 2006 the weekend it first opened. The street was dramatically changed from a pedestrian mall to the street we have today. The day after a huge parade and party to celebrate the opening of the street, there weren’t that many people there. It was still quiet.

It was still a ghost town.

That’s change, of course, and I think the same will happen here, we’ll grow into this new station. The downtown culture will embrace it. I see the station enabling new things that we couldn’t have before.

The opening has been fun but watching it being absorbed over the next few years is really just the start!

Raleigh Union Station plaza

How do you see yourself using the station? Join the discussion on the DTRaleigh Community.

Dockless Scooters Launch in Downtown Raleigh

Two electric scooters in City Plaza

This week, Raleigh’s first electric, dockless, scooter share system launched with over 100 scooters deployed throughout downtown Raleigh, Cameron Village, and other parts. Bird is the first one out of the gate for Raleigh as other cities have multiple vendors.

FYI. Yours truly saw Lime scooters zipping around Raleigh so who knows if they too will add scooters next alongside their bikes here in town.

The concept is similar to how dockless bike share works. You use a smartphone to create an account, check out a scooter, and you are on your way. The cost is a $1 per ride plus 15 cents per minute. If you want to try them out for free, use the same discount code I did which is BIRDRALEIGH.

With Limebike being more an NC State thing and the Citrix Cycle bikeshare system heavily delayed, for now, the scooters are welcome for short trips across downtown. I loved the quick boost on my walk home one evening this week. (especially on a hot day)

For me, I’ll always prefer bicycles as they are easier to use and frankly, downtown streets are not the smoothest. My short scooter ride was a bit bumpy but perhaps it’s just my first time out.

For anyone concerned about using these on sidewalks, I’ve realized that the street is MUCH more preferable. Going up and down curb cuts are not very smooth and the bike lanes look more tempting honestly.

They are fun, they are easy. Welcome to Raleigh, Bird!

Join the discussion about dockless scooters on the DTRaleigh Community.

Map of the Week

Frequent bus network plan for 2025-2027

Click for larger

There’s a survey out for anyone interested in expanded bus service and bus rapid transit in Wake that readers should probably take a look at. Jump to the survey here.

If you aren’t familiar, plans for expanded transit service will be rolling out between now and 2027. Downtown Raleigh is a central hub of the frequent network with the BRT lines coming in and out of downtown Raleigh. The survey focuses on the bus component only and I’m expecting the commuter rail portion, dropping passengers off at Raleigh Union Station, to come later.

Raleigh Union Station’s Dedication

Email readers: This blog post has a virtual reality image. Read the post on the blog to see it.Dedication ceremony for Raleigh Union Station on April 30, 2018.

Dedication ceremony for Raleigh Union Station on April 30, 2018.

On Monday, April 30, 2018, a dedication ceremony was held for Raleigh Union Station. Current and former politicos, city workers, media, Raleigh city aficionados, and representatives from the railroad fandom gathered in the new station to celebrate the completion of the project.

Now that the station has been dedicated, it’ll be put to use in June when Amtrak starts operating out of the new station with 10 daily trains. (up from 8 currently) Stay tuned for a city-planned event to continue to show it off to the greater community.

Dedication ceremony for Raleigh Union Station on April 30, 2018.

Dedication ceremony for Raleigh Union Station on April 30, 2018.
360 Photo of the interior of Raleigh Union Station

The new station is wide open with an abundance of natural light. The staircases are a joy to go up with each level showing a new view into and out of the station. The second-floor mezzanine facing north shows a unique perspective of the warehouse district and the Boylan Wye, perfect for train watching.

Mezzanine level at Raleigh Union Station.

Mezzanine level at Raleigh Union Station.

View of the platform from Raleigh Union Station.

View of the platform from Raleigh Union Station.

No doubt, Raleigh Union Station should impress and is such a wonderful gateway to our downtown and city. Expect more content in the near future as the station is up and running.

Zooming In Underneath the Capital Boulevard Bridge

On the left, the new Capital Boulevard bridge under construction. Center-right is the old bridge. April 2018.

On the left, the new Capital Boulevard bridge under construction. Center-right is the old bridge. April 2018.

Here are some observations from a walk along Peace Street, specifically underneath the new Capital Boulevard bridge. The photo above shows the old bridge, on the right, and the new bridge, on the left. You can see with the upgraded design that a lot of space is reclaimed when you compare the old “rock mound foundation” versus the “concrete wall foundation” of the new. (like my technical terms?)

It’s almost a vehicle lane, about 12-14 feet, on each side!

This made me pull out the map and below is the one shared from the NCDOT project page. When looking at it, up is West (peace going up/down) with Capital going left-to-right and the dark red being the new bridge.

Map of Peace Street project.

Click for a larger, zoomed out view of Peace Street.

What is great to see is that while Peace is wider, it will still be a two-lane road just like today. The additional space is being given to turns lanes but also wider sidewalks and bike lanes. The bike lanes aren’t very clear on this map but if you look hard, they are there.

I will say that some of the added road space is going toward center turn lanes also. Either way, the road has to slim down because the CSX bridge to the east isn’t getting any wider.

Anyway, it’s cool to see this come together one small piece at a time.