Durham getting 8 more miles of bike lanes and 1st ‘buffered’ bike lane downtown

If you ride a bike in Durham and have been frustrated by the lack of bike lanes, more are on the way.

And if you drive a car, prepare to share the road some more.

The city’s first buffered bike lane is also coming downtown, with flexible plastic posts to remind motorists the bike lane is there.

“I think it’s a great place to start,” said Jessalee Landfried, a bicycle and pedestrian advocate. “I say the more the better.”

Landfried lives in Old North Durham and rides her bike downtown, to Northgate Park and to the Durham Co-op, among other places.

Many cities already use vertical delineators, she noted.

“They’re a visual reminder, and for a sober driver in the daytime, that’s probably going to be enough to keep them out of a bike lane — but as we all know that’s not every driver,” Landfried said.

“We also have a problem in Durham of people parking in a bike lane, and vertical delineators can help because it makes it much more clear you’re not supposed to park there,” she said.

Interim Transportation Director Bill Judge said they chose East Main to test the delineators because the city-owned street already has painted buffer lines.

The posts will be placed every 35 feet, with 50 to 60 posts in each direction on the roughly half a mile of East Main Street between Roxboro and Elizabeth/Fayetteville streets.

“We have had many requests for separated bike lanes in Durham,” said Dale McKeel, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. “Separated bike lanes with flexible posts provide an increased sense of comfort for bicyclists and can encourage more people to ride.”

Called a “bike box,” the rectangles of green paint at East Main Street intersections are there to create space for bicycles to cross ahead of vehicle traffic. Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan dvaughan@newsobserver.com

That section of East Main Street also has several large, green rectangles on the road at intersections called “bike boxes,” where cyclists can safely move ahead of cars. Smaller green rectangles show where the bike lane continues across the intersection.

8 miles of new bike lane

The eight miles of new bike lanes will cost $829,170, mostly from federal money. The lanes grew out of the 2017 Durham Bike + Walk Implementation Plan, which called for more bicycle lanes and better connections between lanes and trails.

“The more bike routes that we have and the more connections that we have between those routes, the easier it will be for people to use bikes for transportation,” McKeel said.

One of the complaints from bicyclists is inconsistent bike lanes on their routes to work, trails and shopping, he said. “We’re just trying to build out our network,” he said.

Here is where the bike lanes are going:

American Drive between Constitution Drive and Morreene Road

Stadium Drive/Olympic Avenue between Horton Road and North Roxboro Street

Meriwether Drive between East Carver Street and Old Oxford Road

North Miami Boulevard between East Geer and Raynor streets

Raynor Street between North Miami Boulevard and Liberty Street

Liberty Street between Oakwood Avenue and South Miami Boulevard

Fayetteville Street between Umstead Street and East Main Street

East Lakewood Avenue between Duke Street and Fayetteville Street

East Cornwallis Road between Roxboro Street and Fayetteville Street

What’s next

“I think Durham is making good progress. We’re getting better,” said Landfried, who serves on the city-county Environmental Affairs Board. “[But] even compared to our peer mid-size cities, we’re pretty far behind.”

The posts for the buffered bike lane downtown will be installed this spring.

For the new bike lanes, Judge said the design work is nearly finished, and the project will be put out to bid this summer. The lanes will be under construction by Sept. 30.

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