Last Chance to give your two cents on I-440 Widening

So there’s a $440 Million dollar road widening project that will affect drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians in the entire Raleigh metropolitan area (i.e. 1.2 Million people).  It’s on the books to break ground in 2018.

You already had your opportunity to go to the public hearing last week but fortunately there’s still time to comment until AUGUST 27.  We really encourage you to visit the project website to take a deeper dive but there are some pretty significant impacts to bicycling and walking that we see coming down the pipeline.  Take the interactive survey to give your input here: 

 https://ncdot.publicinput.com/1851

We don’t expect a lot of great things to happen for bicycling and walking when lanes are added to an interstate, but there are opportunities out there.  The public information given in 2014 showed that there would be an opportunity for bike/ped improvements at Western Blvd when the Diverging Diamond Interchange option was selected to move forward.  I’m not really seeing these come to life in 2017 where we see one sad, poorly articulated, sidepath along the west side of Western Blvd near the K-Mart where a poorly maintained sidepath already exists.

This DDI alternative still only gives you options for crossing Western on one side of the roadway

DDI’s are actually known for their ability to do more with less so I’m disappointed to see that with all of this planning and laneage savings, we can’t see that people can walk or bike down Western Blvd on BOTH SIDES of the road.  Basic, right?  Perhaps there could be a low stress connection to Garland Dr.  With the plan as is, if everyone is supposed to cross over at Blue Ridge Rd, what kind of improvements are being made so that people walking and biking across five lanes of traffic and then two double right turn lanes are safe?  What about adding a crosswalk on the other side of the intersection? Also, The project doesn’t extend through the Blue Ridge Rd Intersection.  That means the existing sidepath on the south (continuing to the intersection as a sidewalk) won’t be improved for people to get to the intersection to cross.  It also means the curb ramps on the south side of the intersection likely won’t get upgraded to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Hillsborough Rd intersection shows us the sidepath to nowhere, although considering what is there now, I suppose this is an improvement.  There’s not much to say about this except that if it continued to Blue Ridge Rd, we’d actually be able to get somewhere.

Hillsborough and Wade Interchanges – one of the alternatives showing the sidepath along the east side of Hillsborough St and the realigned Reedy Creek Greenway segment through Meredith

 

At Wade Ave, the Reedy Creek Greenway gets bumped deeper into Meredith Campus.  The flyovers/rams and various alternate configuration gobble up the real estate.  Since all of the alternatives in 2014 gave us this insight, there isn’t much to say about this.  We are concerned about noise and pollution, however.  The current feel of the greenway doesn’t lend itself to realizing you are paralleling this roadway.  Options to abate noise pollution should be considered.  Also with the popularity of this section to the Art Museum, it is surprising that NCDOT is going with a 10′ trail width instead of Raleigh’s new 12′ standard or even a 15′ wide trail.  With the amount of pavement going into the overall project, this isn’t a lot to ask.

Reedy Creek Greenway under the Flyover – one of the Alternatives being considered at the Wade Interchange

There’s also the question of how much pavement is too much pavement, really.  The project videos give us  good insight into what this will actually look like from the I-440 Multi-use Overpass.  We’ve taken the liberty of cutting these screenshots for your viewing showing you the proposed increase in the amount of pavement here.

View from I-440 Multi-Use Overpass
View from I-440 Multi-Use Overpass after Widening (Two Flyover Alternative)

At Ligon Rd, the tunnel is generally used as a bicycling throughway is eliminated in alternatives that add a bridge structure for motor vehicles.  This alternative does not show any bicycling facilities and grades would make this a steep climb.  It does not appear that alternatives to create a through-road in this configuration would not be an improvement to non-motorized accessibility on Ligon Rd.

One of the Ligon Rd Bridge Alternatives which eliminate the existing tunnel

The project does improve some conditions for bicycling and walking.  There are two bridge replacements that add 5′ bicycle lanes and sidewalk on one side at Athens Dr and Melbourne Rd.  This is a considerable improvement over the existing conditions which lack pedestrian and bicycling facilities at present.

Athens Dr Proposed Cross Section (Similar to Melbourne Rd)

 

We’d love to see more detailed signal plans, pedestrian phasing, crosswalk locations, refuge islands at the crossings, and get a better sense of the Reedy Creek Trail realignment and how that will feel.  We’d also like to know more about any ADA accessibility improvements.  If anyone at NCDOT wants to send additional details on what is being proposed, we’ll take them at info@oaksandspokes.com

And there’s no doubt that this is a lot for a citizen to take in, but we do encourage you to not be discouraged and to send your Comments or fill out the Survey by August 22nd.  And get ready for the ground to break in 2018, hopefully with good details in the bicycle and pedestrian design that are not shown in these public documents.

Busy weekend for biking!

It’s finally the first official weekend of Summer, and it’s full of opportunities to get out and ride! Here are a few events worth checking out this weekend:

Start your Saturday off with the Bike MS Training Ride sponsored by Carolina Brewing Company! Route lengths vary from 2.5 to 60 miles, and there is no registration or fee required. After the ride, you will have the opportunity to register for a Fall Bike MS event at a discounted price, get your bike inspected for Bike MS ride weekend and hang out with fellow cyclists and Bike MS staff. Beer and food will be available for purchase.

Quench your thirst for adventure on the Swift Bike Campout with Oak City Cycling Project on Saturday  night. Campers will meet at OCCP at 5:30 for an 18 mile ride to Umstead State Park,  mostly on and in bike lanes, greenways, and crushed gravel roads. The event is self-supported, and all participants should come prepared with their own camping gear and food. This is a family friendly event!

For those of you who can’t make the campout, considering joining us at The Well Fed Community Garden for their First Annual Blackberry Festival from 4-9pm. There will be live music,  fun activities for the whole family, and blackberry cobbler from Irregardless Cafe made with fresh blackberries from the garden! We’ll be providing bike parking at the event, as well as talking to people about our  Cycletrack Project, the RDU Forest Trail Center, and other advocacy issues we are currently interested in.

Close out your weekend with The Welcome Ride, a fundraiser sponsored by USCRI NC to raise money for their continued efforts to support the needs of recently placed immigrants and refugees in North Carolina. Choose between a 26 or 53 mile route to be completed at your own pace, with mechanical support and rest stops along the way. End at Trophy on Maywood and enjoy a spread of international foods representing the cultures and countries of refugees and immigrants! Pre-registration has ended, but you can still sign up the day of with cash or check.

Have a great weekend, and happy riding!

Bike Repair Stations Now Have Adjustable Wrenches

Guest article by former board member, Kyle Hord:

Last year, I joined an Oaks and Spokes ride to Anderson Point Park to celebrate the installation of the second Dero Fixit bike repair station. For those who aren’t familiar with these, they are fantastic resources that can allow a handy person to fix most minor issues they would encounter on their bicycle. They come equipped with a complement of common tools, an air pump, and a place to hang your bike while working.

When we started our ride to Anderson Point Park, a young man joined us as he get off of work downtown. This very tall young man rode the whole way there on a very small bike with a very low saddle. After we made it to the park, some other riders offered to help him raise his saddle, so he could ride home more comfortably. We put his bike on the stand and soon realized that the repair station didn’t have the right size wrench. Undaunted, we came up with a crafty solution and were able to adjust his seat, but I knew immediately what would have solved our problem, and solved every future problem like it: a simple adjustable wrench.

Later that month I went out and bought materials to add adjustable wrenches to Raleigh’s two bike repairs stations at Anderson Point Park and Marbles Kids Museum. About one year, three house moves, and one hurricane later (sorry for the delay), I am happy to announce that I have finally finished the job. Both repair stations now have an adjustable wrench hanging along with their standard assortment of tools. If you stop at a station in the future, there should now be no bolt or nut up to 31 mm wide that you can’t turn.

Keep the momentum going with these June events!

Bike Month may be over, but there are boundless opportunities to get out on your bike this Summer! Here are a few of our picks for June.

We’ve joined forces with the East Coast Greenway Alliance for a series of Second Saturday rides! Come out this Saturday, June 10th for a 4 mile greenway bike ride to the NC Farmers Market. We’ll be meeting at the Chavis Community Center at 10:00am, and we encourage participants to wear a helmet and bring a backpack or panniers. This is a ride for all ages and abilities. If you can’t make it, join us next time on July 8th!

The evening of June 10th in Durham you can take a night ride on the American Tobacco Trail with the Full Moon Fever Ride, hosted by the Durham Community Trail Watch. Choose from a 30 mile or 15 mile route, each with a different start time and location.

On Monday, June 12th join Teamancipation for a Bike Fitting Clinic at 7pm in Carrboro. Learn the basics on bicycle fitting and how it relates to your efficiency on a bike, as well as how to find a bike that best accommodates you or modify your own bike.

For the truly adventurous, check out the Pennsylvania Sojourn Bike Tour with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy from June 18-23. This week-long summer bike excursion will allow you to experience Pennsylvania’s famous scenic wilderness, charming towns, beautiful tunnels, iconic sites and can’t-miss destinations, all on your bike!

If you want adventure a little closer to home, join Oak City Cycling Project on Saturday, June 24th for an overnight bike campout sponsored by Swift Industries. They will be leaving from the shop at 5:30pm for a 18(ish) mile ride on road, greenway, and gravel to Umstead State Park to set-up camp. This is a semi-self supported event, check out the event page for more information.

On Wednesday, June 28th at 7pm, OCCP will also be hosting a W.T.F. (women, trans, femme) Bikepacking Clinic where women can share their experiences with bikepacking and get some useful knowledge from a local bikepacking connoisseur. This clinic is in preparation for a W.T.F. Campout on Saturday, July 15th. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for event updates.

Come enjoy a fun day of riding bikes, feasting, and supporting refugees and immigrants in your community at USCRI-NC‘s first annual fundraiser, The Welcome Ride, on Sunday, June 25th. All profits from registration fees will help USCRI continue to provide housing, legal services, ESL, mental health services, job placement, and case management services to recently arrived refugees and immigrants. Pre-registration is required.

For more event updates, stay tuned to our Facebook page or sign up here to receive our monthly newsletter!

Crank for a Cause Volunteers Needed

It’s almost time for Crank for a Cause, the annual fundraising stationary bike challenge! This year the proceeds are going to fund our upcoming Cycle Track project, set to be installed some time in the Fall. Read more about the project here.

The festivities will be going all day from 11am to 11pm this Saturday the 20th at Crank Arm Brewing, and we’re still in need of a few folks to help us with registration, selling raffle tickets, and assisting with the challenges. If you’re interested, please sign up here. Volunteers will receive a free Oaks & Spokes t-shirt!

With five different live bands, food, local beer, and prizes you’re sure to have a great time, whether as a volunteer or challenge participant. You can check out the list of challenges below. We hope to see you out there!