Chapel Hill Awarded Bicycle Friendly Community

Efforts continue to make it safer in Chapel Hill for cyclists and pedestrians.

The League of American Bicyclists has announced its designation of Chapel Hill as a Bicycle Friendly Community at the bronze level. The designation is valid for four years.

According to the announcement letter: “The decision involved careful review of your application, supplemental material and consultation with local cyclists. As you know, this award is presented only to communities with remarkable commitments to bicycling. You should be very proud of this accomplishment. “ View the Chapel Hill Report Card.

“While we are pleased to receive this unique designation, we also recognize that there is much work to be done to create a safer cycling environment and to make cycling a more convenient everyday choice,” said David Bonk, Town of Chapel Hill Long Range and Transportation Planning Manager. “We are working on many fronts toward this goal.”

The Bicycle Friendly CommunitySM, Bicycle Friendly StateSM, Bicycle Friendly Business and Bicycle Friendly UniversitySM programs are generously supported by program partner Trek Bicycle. To learn more about building a Bicycle Friendly America, visit http://www.bikeleague.org/BFA

Town Manager Roger Stancil has established an interdepartmental staff group that combines law enforcement, planning, traffic engineering, parks and recreation, and public outreach representatives. The team is championed by Police Chief Chris Blue with project leaders Police Sgt. Celisa Lehew and Len Cone, Go Chapel Hill community outreach coordinator. The group has identified a number of immediate actions to pinpoint problem traffic spots and improve safety. The staff team is working closely with the Town’s Transportation and Connectivity Board and the Bicycle Alliance of Chapel Hill (BACH).

Continued Efforts to Make It Safer for Cyclists and Pedestrians

Green Bicycle Sharrow Boxes and Crosswalks Improvements

Town of Chapel Hill public works teams are busy painting green sharrow boxes on roads in areas marked as high-risk for bicycle traffic. They are also changing busy mid-block crosswalks to flash only when activated by pedestrians.

Shared lane pavement markings or “sharrows” are bicycle symbols carefully placed to guide bicyclists to the best place to ride on the road, avoid car doors and remind drivers to share the road with cyclists. Unlike bicycle lanes, sharrows do not designate a particular part of the street for the exclusive use of bicyclists. They are simply a marking to guide bicyclists to the best place to ride and help motorists expect to see and share the lane with bicyclists. Sections along Ransom, Church and Rosemary streets have been selected to receive the upgrades first.

The goal of the upgrades is to increase awareness by using thermoplastic green paint, which can withstand natural elements and traffic for the lifetime of the pavement. The paint will not become slippery when wet.

What do sharrows mean for motorists and bicyclists?

Motorists
• Expect to see bicyclists on the street
• Remember to give bicyclists three feet of space when passing
• Follow the rules of the road as if there were no sharrows

Bicyclists
• Use the sharrow to guide where you ride within the lane
• Remember not to ride too close to parked cars
• Follow the rules of the road as if there were no sharrows

On Thursday, Nov. 13, public works crews will begin installing push-button activated flashing lights at four un-signalized mid-block pedestrian crosswalks on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and on East Franklin Street. The current system that uses a continual flashing light will be changed to better alert motorists. They will flash only when pedestrians are using the crosswalks.The first crosswalk lights to be changed with new lights system were completed along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Piney Mountain Road on Thursday, Nov. 13. The other three crosswalks will be changed as soon as possible, weather permitting.

To raise awareness about road safety laws and pedestrian safety the Town of Chapel Hill has organized awareness and enforcement activities that are taking place each month. People may receive helpful information, warnings about infractions, and in some cases, tickets for traffic violations. Officers may cite motorists for failure to yield to pedestrians within the crosswalk and cite pedestrians for crossing against the signals or crossing outside the crosswalk. Fines and court costs for these violations begin at $213. Police officers will be stationed from 2 to 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13, on West Franklin Street to conduct the public outreach, education and enforcement.

Chapel Hill is working to make the community safer for pedestrians and cyclists. For more information, visit: http://www.townofchapelhill.org/index.aspx?page=1128