On September 21, the Raleigh bicycle & pedestrian advisory commission convened. They sat behind their folded construction paper plaques that spelled out their names. The city liaison, Eric Lamb, sat closer to the podium. There were two empty chairs on either side of the semi-circle. The cap on the projector was screwed on tightly. A shadow covered the screen.
Kelly Chambers, an employee in the North Carolina Attorney General’s office, spoke at the public comment period. She said 400 employees in the North Carolina State Treasurer’s department wanted to commute to work by biking or walking. But Atlantic Avenue seems unsafe. She supports the city’s plan to make Atlantic Avenue more friendly for pedestrians and cyclists. Eric Lamb added in an email to the Raleigh Public Record that the big issue with Atlantic Avenue was crossing I-440 on the beltline.
“This area would not only create a safe route for a lot of people who work in that area but all kinds of cyclists and pedestrians,” Chambers said.
Commissioner Dan Howe raised the subject of the controversy surrounding Milburnie Road. The discussion centered on streets in which cars parked in bike lanes. City liaison Eric Lamb said that the three streets most affected were Lassiter Mill Road, Anderson Drive and Milburnie Road. Eric Lamb explained the city’s position. Commissioner Alan Wiggs said they needed to think about commuters too.
“We have to think about commuters too,” Alan Wiggs said. “So as we have a more of a commuter population, then I think we need to review this as bike commuters, not just for the safety of the children that choose to ride the bike lanes.”
Alan Wiggs raised the issue of pedestrians walking on the I-440 ramp at the New Bern Avenue exit.
“People want to walk [in that area],” he said.
Cyclists, he stated, wanted to use Wake Forest Road. He suggested narrowing down the road and adding bike lanes on both sides of it. Cyclists want to use that road as a segment road to connect to different parts of Raleigh. Sidewalks aren’t the answer. He lamented the loss of failing to add bike lanes during a resurfacing project.
“It’s too late,” Wiggs said. “I guess I’ll wait another eight, nine years when we repave it again and put a new bridge in.”
Eric Lamb explained what happened. The city reviewed the adopted bicycle plan and made recommendations to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). A problem arose when they tried to reduce a lane to add bike paths. They discovered a need for a complete traffic analysis. They simply ran out of time.
Commissioner Evan Brigham asked about a road diet on Hillsborough Street. Eric Lamb reassured him.
“We’re funded,” Lamb said. “We’re on track.”
Outgoing chair commissioner Michael Dayton said that SPARKcon was a tremendous success. He spent two hours and talked to 50 people.
“That’s our audience,” he said.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Advocacy
Lisa Riegel, director of BikeWalkNC, made a presentation. She highlighted the challenges facing advocacy groups representing cyclists and pedestrians. She cited two House bills in the current legislative session that threatened the status quo. House Bill 232 restricted cyclists to single-file riding. An early draft of House Bill 44 sought to prohibit cycling. It was removed after a grassroots movement sent thousands of letters to their representatives.
“I think the more people you have biking makes it more acceptable within the culture,” she said.
She offered commissioners the opportunity to attend the organization’s Bike Summit event. There would be an educational panel to cover traffic bicycling for transportation professionals. There would be an advocacy panel and a representative from the House. There would be an NCDOT session on BikeWalkNC’s complete streets policy.
“Bicycle pedestrian issues are health issues,” she said.
Staff Reports on Transportation Projects
Eric Lamb, the city liaison, handled the staff reports.
“There’s a ton of stuff to go over this month,” he said.
He opened with the Hillsborough Street Phase II project that was discussed at city council last week. He said there were continued concerns about the use of round-a-bouts in the project. Staff, he said, would go out to each round-a-bout location and pave footprints. They were possibly revising the project. The project was 95 percent design. They were currently working on right-of-way acquisition. Eric Lamb added in an email to Raleigh Public Record that removing the round-a-bouts would change the location of the curbs and underground piping. It would delay the project for over a year.
The city just completed the Brookside Drive traffic calming project. It included an uphill bike lane. It turned out very, very well. They decommissioned a traffic signal that was no longer warranted. They put in a four-way stop. Next, he turned to the Lassiter Mill Road resurfacing project. It went from a five lanes to three lanes. They added bike lines back across the bridge.
Alan Wiggs explained his contribution to the project. An email directory was used. He made sure everyone was informed. He advocated for them to call their representatives. He told them to make sure the striping was the same as a year ago.
“It’s a win but it takes a little patience,” he said.
Eric Lamb resumed. He spoke about the bicycle corridor down Spring Forest Road, from Six Forks Road to Capital Boulevard. He assured them resurfacing would be done by next week. The city had a very good relationship with a striping contractor. There were major bike lane projects still hanging out there. Hillsborough Street is one of three pilot projects selected for green paint. A raised intersection at Kaplan Drive had been completed by the start of the school year. It was difficult to construct. They needed to shut down the intersection for some time.
Commissioner Paul Neville asked if they were repaving Milburnie Road. Eric Lamb said there was a traffic calming project in design. Neville asked for an update on the feasibility of the bike share program. Lamb explained that it was officially on hold pending funding.
Commissioner Evan Brigham asked, “When are projects required to be presented to BPAC?”
Eric Lamb said the city tried to bring projects to BPAC before they were brought to city council.
Alan Wiggs asked about bike lanes on Hillsborough Street. Lamb said that next year they would be exploring different options for data collection. Data history went back to 2006 for pedestrians and 2013 for bikes. He added that at SPARKcon, the city had brought out custom bike racks.
Commissioner Harry Johnson gave the report on the bicycle planning committee. He said the committee had cycled the Art to Heart trail, which started in the North Carolina Museum of Art to downtown Raleigh. He added they had a good tour guide in Eric Lamb. The commissioners and Eric Lamb had a discussion about signage along the trail. The commissioners debated the different colors of the stickers. Paul Neville recommended painting. Michael Dayton recommended temporary paint. Harry Johnson said there was lot of enthusiasm for next level infrastructure projects.
“I think that going forward as we adopt this plan and adopt this update, it is incumbent on members of this group to really do our bit and get this implemented,” Harry Johnson said. “And that means reaching out to the larger community, council members, present and future committee, and see what happens in the next couple of years.”
Commissioner Amy Simes gave the update on the pedestrian planning committee.
“We did meet earlier this month,” she said. “Eric, what else should we say about that meeting?”
The floor was opened for Walktober planning. Eric Lamb said that they did not have a specific program. Paul Neville said he thought National Walk to School Day was October 7. Eric Lamb confirmed this. Evan Brigham took initiative and proposed organizing a walk from NC State to downtown. Michael Dayton recommended using the historic app.
The meeting ended. The microphones were shut off. The commissioners stood one by one and started to leave. Eric Lamb moved to the inside of the semi-circle. He picked up the folded construction paper plaques. He put them in the box and closed the lid.