Durham's First Protected Bike Lane


The Background

Broad Street is being resurfaced by NCDOT this summer.  The Transportation Department, in collaboration with Alta Planning + Design, is taking this opportunity to re-stripe the street to improve safety for all users.  Broad Street is a key link in the bicycle network in Durham, connecting important destinations like Duke’s East Campus, the North Carolina School of Science and Math and commercial districts along the street. It would also connect to bike lanes further north on Broad Street, and to ones on Main Street and Club Boulevard.  The project is moving very quickly and you should know about a critical issue with designs proposed by staff.

Bike Durham has followed this design process closely from the beginning.  Two of the three initial designs included some variation of current best practice— protected bike lanes.  Protected bike lanes have been shown to increase cycling rates and reduce crash rates. Bike Durham and the larger bicycle community supported those two designs, one of which included parking-protected bike lanes— a common design for streets with retail businesses like those along Broad Street.

The Problem: No Physical Protection

At the latest public meeting, Bike Durham and others in the bicycle community were surprised to see that neither of the preferred designs were chosen.  Instead, the City advanced the only design that offered no physical protection for cyclists. While the new design does include bike lanes, they are not protected from the regular travel lanes.


Additionally, the bike lanes are not carried all the way through the corridor, ending before they reach Main Street (and its bike lanes) to the south, and not continuing through the Guess Road intersection to the north.  With the current design, every time someone parallel parks or double parks on Broad, a cyclist will be pushed into 35 mph traffic or faster.  This design does little to help the “interested but concerned” category of cyclists feel safe on our streets.  Without this group, bicycling will not become the mode of choice for Durham’s citizens.

Protected lane in SF

Protected lane in SF

The Solution: Parking Protection

The great news is, we can increase bicycling levels and safety on Broad Street by striping the road slightly differently to create protected bike lanes throughout the entire corridor.  As mentioned earlier, this design was already one of the options for Broad Street. The Transportation Department has kindly produced a memo describing their design process, including the rationale against the parking-protected lane the City initially proposed to the public.  This rationale, which we contest in detail here, hinges mostly on the initial learning curve of a parking-protected lane because this design has yet to be implemented in Durham.  Although parking protection is novel in Durham, the minor concerns raised by the Transportation Department have been non-issues in US and international implementations.  



What you can do

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