Bike Lanes Finally Hit Hillsborough Street

Bike Lanes Finally Hit Hillsborough Street

July, 31, 2011, by Jedidiah

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Remember those Temporary Bike Lanes proposed for Hillsborough Street? Well, we received a message from local designer and urbanist Will Alphin today with a photo attached. The message sums up what we've all been thinking for a while: Raleigh needs more bike lanes and it's quite a struggle to get just a few. 

two years since we first started turning the wheels to get a bike lane on the street adjacent to the highest percentage of cyclists in raleigh - they are down. watching over a hunderd motoroist drive down hillsborough street on the inaugural night of the lanes, not a single one slipped over the line into the cylce lane. this is gonna work. thanks to cyclists that pushed for this and the city council and staff that supported it. more please!

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Politics, Other posts by Jedidiah.


BicyclesBicyclingBicycle Lanes


  • will a
    07/31 07:06 PM

    jed and NRcrew - thanks for the post and NR’s support for the lanes since the outset.  others that made this happen include: victor lytvinenko - dylan bounfrisco - alan wiggs - dale tiska - dawn leonard - bike first raleigh crew - BPAC including steven waters - julie woosley - brian mccrodden and on the city side of things eric lamb - the public works committee approved it TWICE - russ stephenson, bonner gaylord and john odom(who had the brilliant idea to tag the surplus dollars of the hillsborough st. renovation to this specific project if approved - in a time when the city was not funding the many other bike improvement projects). the reason it had to go through twice was the opposition of the hillsborough street business owners. anyone that appreciates the lanes PLEASE take a minute to mention it to the staff and proprieters of the hillsborough st. businesses AND COR council members and eric lamb COR transportation manager. these lanes were put down on a TRIAL BASIS by NC DOT and after sometime, they will assess the success. 


  • JeffS
    07/31 07:44 PM

    Now take a picture with one of those doors open. I’m in favor of bike lanes in general, but this is one of those places where I felt safer without it.

  • Behki
    07/31 11:28 PM

    Wow what a terrible place for bike lanes.

  • Raleigh Boy
    08/01 12:01 AM

    uh oh. That stretch of Hillsboro St ‘as is’ is no place for bike lanes. I drive it every day. Agree with Jeff S and Behki. Sorry, all my biking friends, but this is just an accident waiting to happen.

  • Brian
    08/01 12:31 AM

    That travel lane doesn’t look wide enough for some vehicles that traverse Hillsborough regularly (I’m thinking mostly of delivery trucks, but an Excursion is pretty damn wide).  Note that the bike lane line is painted over the turning arrow, meaning it’s pretty far into the street.  I applaud the idea of bike lanes, but this execution looks suspect.

  • Wowwie
    08/01 06:58 AM

    It would be great to see an article laying out the pros and cons of these lanes.

  • frank
    08/01 09:27 AM

    that’s the image that reminds me why to avoid Hillsborough St. Between foreign student drivers and kids that like to text while riding their bikes, it’s Damnation Alley.

  • Ken Metzger
    08/01 09:58 AM

    I am torn on this one, and have been throughout the process.  It is great to have bike lanes, but when I rode on Hillsborough St. I was riding about where the solid line is.  I am not comfortable that close to the cars, but now cars are going to be even more upset about me invading “their” space.  At the same time, it might bring more people to ride their bikes.  I wish they could take the bus lanes on NCSU campus and make them bus/bike lanes and continue a double bike lane to Enterprise St.

  • Rob E.
    08/01 10:03 AM

    I’m going to have to get out and see it first hand, but that looks pretty bad. However I’ve been skeptical from the beginning, just not seeing room for the lanes on Hillsborough. I think they should have been in the original plan, but as an add on, I don’t think they look that useful.  That photo looks like a textbook picture of where not to ride your bicycle.

  • REL
    08/01 10:41 AM

    Finally.  I already watch for opening doors when I ride.  I ride defensively - like everyone is TRYING to hit me.  These lanes are practical and even more effective politically.  Keep them coming and in the future, design the road with them in mind from the outset.  The island in the middle of Hbrough St doesn’t need to be as wide as it is.

  • Steven Goodridge
    08/01 11:12 AM

    Worst door zone lanes in the Triangle.

    These bike lanes mark the exact location where bicyclists should NOT ride.

    Ride in the door zone and you’ll get doored. Ride just outside the door zone and a bus or truck will sideswipe you. Ride in the center of the travel lane, between the raised center median and the door zone, and you’ll be much safer.

  • JP
    08/01 11:43 AM

    Bikers have to be extremely diligent to avoid catastrophe. It goes like this:
    - You’re riding along, a parked car just ahead flings a door open.
    - You instinctively swerve left to miss the door, but hopefully not into the path of traffic coming from behind.
    - Or you slam into the door and hit the asphalt, hopefully not into the path of oncoming traffic.

    I’m all for bike lanes, but without some room for doors it’s very risky. Sharrows make more sense on Hillsborough. Most drivers and pedestrians just don’t think about bikes so to ride safely you either need to be positioned just like cars or completely separated and protected from traffic.

  • Ashe
    08/01 12:15 PM

    I am always glad to see more bike lanes around Raleigh. Having dedicated bike lanes helps encourage people who are on the fence about biking in a city to give it a try.

    That said, they really screwed up when they redesigned Hillsborough and DIDN’T include bike lanes in the original plan. These bike lanes were clearly an afterthought, and a poorly positioned one at that!

    If I had been redesigning the street, I would have taken out the car parking completely on the side of the street next to NCSU and used that extra space to put full bike lanes in each direction that would be fully out of the door zone. The protected median for pedestrians wouldn’t have even needed to lose width.

  • John Brooking
    08/01 12:25 PM

    Door zone bike
    lanes cause
    fatalities when the
    cyclist either
    swerves or is thrown
    by the impact into
    the adjacent travel
    lane and run over.
    That happened 4
    times in NYC last
    year. They are a
    death trap that lead
    the unsuspecting
    cyclist into
    serious danger while
    providing the
    illusion of safety.
    They ought to be

  • JeffS
    08/01 12:29 PM

    You’re right Ashe. The PR spin was one of safety, but in the end, parking was the #1 priority.

  • Victor Lytvinenko
    08/01 02:37 PM

    A couple things to consider:

    1. Not having the bike lane does not change the possibility of riders being doored.

    2.Cars drive in the center of the lane. By having the line on the pavement the moving cars are kept further away from the parked cars giving the cyclists more room.

    3. Every rider still has the right to “take the lane” - ride in the middle of the full driving lane - if they feel safer doing that.

    4. The line on the pavement is a constant visual signal to drivers and people parallel parking to look for cyclists on the road.

    5. No lane is 100% safe, for cars or for bikes. Cyclists are expected to use their judgement to reduce accidents, as you do when driving a car.

  • Rob E.
    08/01 03:33 PM

    1. My fear, Victor, is that people will be less likely to take the lane if a bike lane is present and motorists will be less tolerant of those who do. I still have to ride this lane and see how it feels, but this photo makes it appear that the lane is pretty much right in the door zone, and having the door zone designated as a bike lane will increase the possibility of a cyclist being doored.

    2. If there is room for a parked car with the door open + a bicycle + car, then you may be right, but not every car stays to the center of their lane, so unless a cyclist can get around an open door while staying within the bike lane, it seems unsafe.

    3. They may have the right, but the existence of a bike lane sends a clear message where bicycles “should” ride. Less experienced riders will not even consider taking the lane, nor will they be as familiar with the dangers of the door zone.

    4. I agree 100%. But in this case I wonder if sharrows wouldn’t do the same thing while encouraging riders to stay away from the parked cars.

    5. This is true, but all road markings should make travel safer. I’m not convinced this lane does that.

    I do wish a bike lane was in the original plan for the street redesign, and I applaud the folks who persuaded the city to (belatedly) examine the possibility of including bike facilities on Hillsborough. I hope it will influence future projects, and I think it already has. But this particular lane may not be the right solution for this stretch of road.

  • Wayne Pein
    08/01 04:03 PM

    When injuries or death occurs due to the negligence of this design, no one except the victim can claim ignorance, having been duped by the City of Raleigh into believe the bike lane is a safe place to operate.

    These are among the worst Door Zone Bike Lanes in the country because of the bike lane abutting car parking, the narrow adjacent travel lane, and the raised median. But the City didn’t do it out of mere ignorance of the hazards or standards, already an unforgivable excuse. The City administrators and staff willfully ignored the dangers and published guidelines because I gave them this paper in August 2010 condemning the then proposed bike lane design.

    The Door Zone Bike Lanes on Hillsborough Street appear in the above picture to be even worse than the proposed design that included a 2 foot buffer between parking and bike lane. The DZBL abuts the side of parked vehicles. The parking limit marks are clearly visible near the cars’ tires.

  • Wayne Pein
    08/01 04:14 PM

    1. Not having a bike lane means that knowledgeable bicyclists can move far left out of the door zone.

    2. Motorists will pass bicyclists CLOSER because of the bike lane.

    3. Bicyclists are indeed forced to use the bike lane due to motorist coercion.

    4. A Shared Lane Marking in the center of the lane and the R4-11 sign are far better constant reminders of bicyclists’ presence.

    5. The bike lane is intended to make beginner bicyclists, who by definition don’t know much, feel safe rather than actually be safe. This is unethical.

    Bike lanes are for the convenience of motorists at bicyclists’ expense. Raleigh should widely place the R4-11 bicycle MAY USE FULL LANE SIGN.

  • Carl
    08/01 04:52 PM

    When injuries or death occurs due to the negligence of this design,
    no one except the victim can claim ignorance,
    having been duped by the City of Raleigh
    into believe the bike lane
    is a safe place to operate.

    Just like New Orleans, right ?

  • JeffS
    08/01 04:52 PM

    “2. Motorists will pass bicyclists CLOSER because of the bike lane.”


    That said, this is a narrow space. All passes are going to be close - line or no line. I’ll ride up there tonight to confirm my suspicions.


  • Steven Goodridge
    08/01 05:11 PM

    JeffS, why should motorists be passing at all if there isn’t room? That’s our point. The median makes this road too narrow for drivers to pass cyclists, and the slow nature of the traffic on it means bicyclists riding in the center of the general purpose travel lane aren’t creating a significant inconvenience for anyone, and certainly not in any significant danger from same direction traffic. By comparison, the door zone lane is much more hazardous.If bicyclists want to be safe, all they have to do is ride 6’ from the median. If they feel like they are delaying motorists on the uphill sections, they can pull over, let the traffic disperse, then continue again in the center of the travel lane, but I’ve never encountered a situation where I believe I’ve delayed anyone by more than a few seconds.

  • Brian
    08/01 05:22 PM

    I appreciate Victor’s point about the cyclist’s right to take the lane, but I fear that the average motorist will see a bike lane and a cyclist riding outside of it and become irritated instead of considering the effort to avoid being doored.  This video is dramatized for comedic effect, but the point it makes is an excellent one that will nor be considered by the average motorist:

  • Rob E.
    08/01 05:33 PM

    One thing to keep in mind that, as will a said, these are temporary. Having talked about this to BPAC members several times, I get the impression that they are very receptive to the idea that these bike lanes may not end up being the best solution. People who are concerned and people who support the bike lane should make an effort to get out there and try out this lane and then relay your impressions to city council and/or BPAC. My impression before the bike lanes went in was that there was not really enough room for passing on that stretch of Hillsborough. Seeing how close this lane puts you to the cars makes me feel even moreso that there just isn’t enough room, but I will have to get out there and give it a try.

  • !cars
    08/01 10:11 PM

    Do bikes have to stay in the bike lane by law?  If so we should just make the whole road a bike lane instead of just a small sliver.  There would be less deaths from cars, less pollution, and less overweight people on the road.


  • Rob E.
    08/01 11:22 PM

    Bikes do not have to stay in the bike lane. Unfortunately many drivers and some cyclists are not aware of that. And even if they are aware, it’s going to create ill will if a driver sees a bicycle as “impeding” traffic when there is a bike lane they could be in.

    I rode the length of the bike lanes this evening. I have to admit that it made it easier for cars to pass me, which is often an issue in that stretch. There’s often a degree of hesitancy where the drivers seem uncertain as to whether or not they have room to pass. Knowing that they were in their lane and I in mine made them more likely to pass. Or maybe it made me ride closer to the right then I would have otherwise. There was still some hesitancy because it is still a tight fit, and there was a lot of nervousness on my part because I was definitely closer to potentially opening car doors then I would like, and with drivers more certain of their room to pass, the odds were greater that had a car door opened, another car would be on my left.  Also I’d say one car in five was not entirely within that parking space. For as long as the bike lane remains, it might be good if Raleigh PD could be extra generous with parking tickets for folks who fail to get their vehicle closer to the curb.

    On the whole, I did not feel that I was holding up traffic, like I often do when I take the lane, so if that is the goal, I think it succeeded. But I also felt less safe then usual. I will continue to use the bike lanes and see if they grow on me, but my first impression mirrors what I thought when I saw the photo: there just isn’t enough distance from the parked cars to make this a safe bike lane.

  • Steven Goodridge
    08/02 08:42 AM

    For those who are unfamiliar with recommended best practices for bicyclists riding beside on-street parallel parking, I strongly recommend that you to watch the following short video featuring League of American Bicyclists Education Director Preston Tyree explaining and demonstrating the safe distance. Five feet or more from the side of the car is required so that the cyclist is not startled into swerving left into traffic when a door opens suddenly:

    Staying out of the door zone puts the bicyclist’s wheels to the left of the bike lane stripe on Hillsborough Street. Don’t ride in it. Instead, take the primary position in the general purpose travel lane.

  • REL
    08/02 11:14 AM

    Blah blah blah.  If you want to use the lane, you should use it.  Or don’t.  If you like it, tell the city council and Hillsborough St merchants.  If you don’t like it, tell the city council.  I congratulate Rob E for actually using the lanes and then commenting.  Maybe it’s just the past few weeks in Washington but man, ideology is a bummer.

  • Wayne Pein
    08/02 01:48 PM

    Are they temporary until someone does a face plant? Or will there be a poll asking bicyclists if they feel safe (who cares about actual safety when feel rules the day)?

    Bicyclists need to get over their feeling of inadequacy and fear/guilt of slowing motorists.

    That parked cars are entirely within the parking lane or not is irrelevant: their doors will to some extent encroach on the Door Zone Bike Lane no matter where they park laterally. One could argue that it is better to smash face first into a door that blocks the entire DZBL rather than deflecting off the end and dying under the wheels of a bus.



  • Stefanie
    08/02 03:36 PM

    My favorite comment in this comment thread so far, “Bicyclists need to get over their feeling of inadequacy and fear/guilt of slowing motorists.” I totally agree. I think transit systems need to get over it, too (regarding bus stop placement). I mean, no wonder POVs are still king of the road. Regarding the thoughts in this thread about the removal of parking, may I remind everyone of why Fayetteville Street was in dire need of a Renaissance? Cars activate dead spaces and on-street parking opportunities support retail that serves both motorists and cyclists. The solution doesn’t lie in the tape demarcating this or that because it lies in our attitudes about sharing the road and using the art of transportation as a means by which we engage one another in those shared spaces, spend our dollars, and live our daily lives. Let’s spend more time discussing how we can educate drivers, cyclists, and public transportation systems on how to best share the space so that we can enjoy the journey and pause from time to time to enjoy our respective destinations. In essence, we all need to slow it down a notch.

  • Wayne Pein
    08/02 03:58 PM

    “watching over a hunderd motoroist drive down hillsborough street on the inaugural night of the lanes, not a single one slipped over the line into the cylce lane.”

    Motorist encroachment into the Door Zone Bike Lane is irrelevant in much the same way car-bike collisions are irrelevant when no bicyclists are present.

    Here’s a picture of how it should have been done (scroll down):

    In this way, bicyclists who choose to ride far right could still do so by ignoring the warning stripes. Other bicyclists and motorists would realize that they shouldn’t operate there. The City wouldn’t be held liable for bad design, and the bicyclists who pushed for the bike lane wouldn’t feel guilty after the inevitable Dooring collisions.

  • Bill
    08/02 04:16 PM

    Here’s a site where a fella spent 50 hours researching cyclist collisions with car doors.  He found 16 cases over a 4 year period, around the world.  Now do a Google News search for “Cyclist struck rear” and look at how many results you’ll get for rear end collisions of bicycles, which Mr. Pein suggests are rare.  I think the age of distracted driving has changed things more than he would care to admit.

  • Steven Goodridge
    08/02 04:30 PM

    Bill, you’re comparison is moot. We aren’t talking about high speed arterials and rural roads where most overtaking collisions happen, we are talking about downtown streets. On urban streets with slow to modest speeds like Hillsborough, same-direction collisions for cyclists are rare, and same-direction fatalities are extremely rare, as long as the cyclist isn’t riding at night without lights. Yet on such streets, dooring collisions are very common. In fact, in cities like San Francisco with lots of on-street parking (and a fair number of door zone bike lanes), dooring is one of the most common crash types, far more common than overtaking collisions.  A cyclist operating lawfully in the travel lane (using lights if at night) is far less likely to be injured than a cyclist riding in the door zone. That’s why bicycling safety classes taught by nationally certified instructors teach bicyclists not to ride in the door zone and to claim control of the normal travel lane when there isn’t room for safe passing.  The problem that many experienced cyclists see is that this bike lane teaches novice cyclists the exact opposite of what bicycling safety instructors have been trying to teach cyclists for decades.

  • JeffS
    08/02 04:31 PM

    “Cars activate dead spaces “

    Sorry, but cars didn’t activate Fayetteville St, direct spending and business subsidy did. We continue to spend money propping up an area that would not exist on its own, so don’t declare victory just yet.

    Personally, I’m not of the opinion that businesses are the first priority of the city. The city should serve the residents first and foremost. Raleigh’s good intentions are consistently overrun by business interests.


  • Steven Goodridge
    08/02 04:36 PM

    What is the 85th percentile speed on this road since the road diet was completed (before the door zone lane was added?) I can’t imagine it is greater than 25 mph, especially not during the weekday. I’ve been riding on Hillsborough Street for 20 years and find that motor traffic on it usually delays me, not the other way around.

    My recommendation is to mark the center of the travel lane with shared use markings, as other communities have done on similar urban streets designed for slow speeds and pedestrian safety:

  • Steven Goodridge
    08/02 04:38 PM

    Sorry for the clutter, I didn’t think the server would convert the hyperlinks to in-line images.

  • Stefanie
    08/02 04:43 PM

    Jeff S. I know it sounds asinine but I didn’t just come up with this off the top of my head. A recent example:

  • Steven Goodridge
    08/02 04:46 PM

    Here’s an article to back up my claim about the frequency of dooring injuries, and recommended avoidance practices, in San Francisco:

    “the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition points out that dooring is the highest injury collision type caused by motorists or their passengers”

    Note that the “unsafe speed” they refer to in the article is actually cyclists going too fast. 

    According to Raleigh Police collision reports, the vast majority of car-bike collisions (and cyclist injuries) in Raleigh involve intersections and crossing movements. But if Raleigh follows San Francisco’s lead, that could become dooring.

  • Bill
    08/02 04:53 PM

    Yes, Steven, and the majority of bicycle accidents don’t even involve cars. So your long paragraph is moot.

    And “sorry”, direct spending and subsidy was also used to produce the pedestrian mall on Fayetteville that was a complete failure, so it would be strange to credit that alone with the (apparent) current success of downtown. 

  • A.Zuokas
    08/02 08:15 PM

    Here’s a solution that I particularly like:

  • downtown west
    08/03 05:15 AM

    Big whoopee!!

  • Rob E.
    08/03 12:06 PM

    Tried the lane again yesterday. Even staying within the lane I noticed cars reluctant to pass, and not big cars. This just further enforces my concerns that there is simply not adequate room to safely accommodate a parked motor vehicle, a moving motor vehicle, and a bicycle at the same time. I’m not always that forceful when it comes to “taking the lane,” and I often hug the curb when others would say that I shouldn’t, so I’m not approaching this as a hard-core, vehicular cyclist, but as a pragmatist who does not want me or my fellow cyclists to get run over. On this stretch of road, taking the lane seems to be the safest option. Moving to the right invites too close passing on the left and door collisions on the right. Fortunately on this stretch, traffic moves slowly enough that riding in traffic is not that intimidating.
    I appreciate the people who went to bat for this project because I know that they had the interests of the cycling community at heart, and because I think that the city takes a closer look at how to improve our cycling infrastructure as a result of the actions of the bike lane advocates. That’s a very positive move for cycling in this city. This bike lane, however, is not. I think the conversation needs to turn to what would work better.

  • Synaesthete
    08/03 04:03 PM

    Let’s build bike lanes up on pillars, like an elevated highway for bikes only.  We could have one that connects Hillsborough Street to Boylan Ave to Fayetteville Street.  The elevated bike path could also be used by those Segway people.

    Actually, as crazy as this sounds, I bet there is a critical tipping-point where this is a practical solution.  We have no problem building mega-structures for our automobiles (look at the 540 project!).  In those places where bicycling is becoming more prevalent, shouldn’t we consider totally new types of architectural and engineering solutions?  The only reason we haven’t is because we’re still recovering from an automobile-centric reality.

  • Bill Jenkins
    08/03 05:19 PM

    Cars go super fast and don’t make you tired.

  • Wayne Pein
    08/04 02:24 PM

    The current Door Zone Bike Lane communicates to motorists and bicyclists that each user has his own safe space. This is disingenuous and unethical treatment of bicyclists. Bicyclists who use the “motor vehicle lane” will be treated as persona non grata and have to justify why they aren’t in the bike lane.

    Here’s how to fix it:

    1. Remove the bicycle icon from the DZBL and place diagonal hash marks to indicate it is a space for all road users to avoid. If some bicyclists still want to operate there they can; nobody will stop them. It will act like the bike lane they covet inasmuch as motorists will avoid it. Motorists will realize that bicyclists who are in the travel lane are legitimately doing so.

    2. Place the Shared Lane Marking in the center of the 11’ travel lane. This communicates to all that bicyclists may use the full lane if they choose to do so.

    3. Place the R4-11 bicycle MAY USE FULL LANE sign in the median for further reinforcement and communication of proper behavior.

  • Wayne Pein
    08/04 02:28 PM

    Bill wrote:

    “Yes, Steven, and the majority of bicycle accidents don’t even involve cars. So your long paragraph is moot.”

    No, his paragraph is not moot. Your point that the majority of bicycle accidents don’t involve cars is true, but it is irrelevant.

  • Steven Goodridge
    08/04 03:53 PM

    Actually, I apologize for the rudeness of the first sentence of my “moot” post; I was in the middle of editing that first sentence when I got distracted by “real work” and then accidentally pressed POST before finishing.  I meant to write a more polite description of the contrast between fatality stats and overall crash and injury stats, but I blew it.

    On the subject, who will collect dooring crash statistics in Raleigh? According to the pbcat database, only two door collisions have been reported by Raleigh Police since bicycle crash data started being collected in 1997. State law requires that reports be collected only for crashes that involve at least one motor vehicle - might police be declining to report doorings by assuming that if the motor is turned off, it doesn’t count?  Or are doorings in Raleigh really that much less common per capita than in other cities, such as San Francisco, where it is a leading crash type?

  • Rob E.
    08/04 04:07 PM

    Well, as far as I know, this is the first bike lane in Raleigh that actively encourages people to bike where car doors are likely to be opening, so maybe those numbers will change.

  • Burt Benson
    08/04 04:30 PM

    If all you hipsters put some brakes on your “Fixies,” doorings wouldnt be an issue.  Take the lane and grow a pair.

  • Chris A.
    08/04 04:35 PM

    A little sense of entitlement, bikers?  Next time, get involved in the planning phase so that your bikers shorts don’t get in a wad when it’s not done exactly as you wished.

    You’ve made your choice to ride on a thoroughfare dominated by motorized vehicles.  You know full and well that it is an inherently more dangerous choice and then complain about it being dangerous…

    If you want a culture dominated by bicycles, move to Holland or China.

    08/04 04:58 PM

    Won’t make a difference. They’ll still cut off drivers, hold up traffic and run red lights… yet they’ll talk to drivers like we’re such bad people because we don’t have the time to ride a bike to work. Gotta love those smug, self-righteous hipsters.

  • Chris A.
    08/05 09:07 AM

    FWIW, I’m a pretty open minded person and hardly a righty-tea-party type, but when it comes to bicycles and motor vehicles being equal partners on a road intended for cars, my vote goes to the cars.  Sorry we can’t cater to your every whim bikers; I suspect nothing will make you happy.

  • Ken Metzger
    08/05 09:15 AM

    Rob E, the city also put a bike lane on Salisbury St that is right in the door zone.

    Chris A, yes, I do have a sense of entitlement, because cyclists are entitled to the streets just as much as a motorized vehicle.  I also love the argument that if where you live is not perfect, then you have to move.  The idea of changing a culture is apparently out of the question, but I have seen Raleigh change by leaps and bounds.  Fifteen years ago I loved biking around downtown, but no one else was around biking or otherwise.  Now downtown is turning into a great place for cyclists, and I hope the city can help with this change. 

    Bike lanes are great, but they need to make sense.

  • LoneVoice
    08/06 07:52 AM

    If the bike lanes actually stopped people from riding the wrong way, riding on the sidewalks, riding without regard to the traffic signal lights, and riding without regard to the pedestrians, then I’m all for it.

    But these bike lanes are on Hillsborough Street right in front of NC State University. Bicyclists will ride the wrong way, ride on the sidewalk, ride without regard to the traffic signals, and ride without regard to pedestrians.

    I travel Hillsborough Street daily. I think these lanes look like they were simply painted on rather than having been planned into the redevelopment. This doesn’t constitute an improvement. It will just be a nuisance to drivers & walkers alike.

  • C
    08/07 09:43 AM

    I think cyclists should pay a yearly vehicle property tax, and have it registered with the DMV,have their bikes inspected,and have to pass a test just like motorists do to use the road, if they use it they should help pay for those extra lanes for them, lol, then it would be equal!

  • Steven Goodridge
    08/09 09:42 AM

    C wrote: “I think cyclists should pay a yearly vehicle property tax, and have it registered with the DMV,have their bikes inspected,and have to pass a test just like motorists do to use the road, if they use it they should help pay for those extra lanes for them, lol, then it would be equal!”

    I always find it amusing when motorists object to bike lanes that were invented, designed and built, not for bicyclist safety, but to maximize convenience for motorists. Yes, bike lanes are for motorist convenience, not bicyclist safety; cyclists have been using Hillsborough street quite safely for many decades; it is harassment from and demands by a few impatient motorists that bicyclists get out of their way that leads to hazardous door zone bike lanes like these.

    Calls for regulatory pain to be heaped upon bicyclists with no credible public benefit, except some motorists’ own sadistic satisfaction, are equally laughable. The state and local government has shown little no interest in enforcing the normal traffic laws for bicyclists because bicyclists rarely injure others, but if stronger regulation were needed, that would be the place to start.  (I’ve devoted my own energy to encouraging cyclists to obey traffic laws for collision prevention and teaching police to recognize the difference between safe/lawful cycling and actual traffic violations by cyclists, but area police have little enthusiasm for pulling over cyclists unless as a pretextual stop for a drug or weapons search.) 

    The anti-cyclists don’t call for traffic enforcement either, because what the anti-cyclists want is to create pain for the lawfully operating cyclists. So, the anti-cyclists call for regulatory schemes that would cost far more to implement than the public benefit is worth. Property tax on a bicycle? How much would that be, versus the cost of collecting it? Registration? It has been tried and has failed many times across the US, because the cost of implementation greatly exceeds any credible benefit. Insurance and testing? Senseless for an activity that only hurts the cyclist when done improperly; politicians on both sides of the aisle recognize such a wasteful expansion of government when they see one. Whenever the discussion of bicycling regulation turns toward substative, constructive issues that can make a useful improvement in safety such as enforcement of the requirements for lights at night, and discouraging sidewalk and wrong-way cycling, the anti-cyclists lose interest, and the only people left in the discussion are cyclists and the police.

    The regulation of motor traffic is justified by the degree of potential danger motorists may pose to innocent and harmless road users entitled to use them - such as bicyclists and pedestrians. To consider one’s regulatory burden as merit to use our public ways is to turn traffic law on its head - and violates basic American principles of liberty and appropriate limitations on government power.

  • Eric Lamb
    08/12 05:03 PM


    We are officially opening a public comment period regarding the Hillsborough Street bike lanes.  The comment period will be open from now until 5pm on Friday, October 7, 2011.  We will compile all comments and share them with NCDOT as part of the evaluation of this pilot project.

    Comments can be sent via e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or by mail to the City of Raleigh Office of Transportation Planning, PO Box 590, Raleigh, NC 27602.

  • LoneVoice
    08/13 08:26 AM

    “cyclists have been using Hillsborough street quite safely for many decades”

    I’d re-write this to say “cyclists have been using Hillsborough street for many decades.”

    Having to dodge cyclists, who are weaving themselves down sidewalks and navigating pedestrians like orange cones, is not something a pedestrian should have to do. Pedestrians have the ultimate right-of-way, even over cyclists.

    Let’s face it: pedestrians don’t like motorists, and motorists don’t like pedestrians—but neither of them like cyclists.

  • Steven Goodridge
    08/13 01:56 PM


    I hit a pedestrian once. It was at NCSU. It’s one of the experiences that led me to dislike bike lanes in favor of sharrow markings on busy urban streets like Hillsborough Street where there is lots of pedestrian traffic.

    As a grad student at State, my bike was my primary form of transportation. I was cycling on Pullen Drive when I saw congested traffic stopped in front of me. There was enough space between the motor vehicles and the curb for me to pass on the right, and that’s what other cyclists did, so I tried doing it myself. Suddenly, a pedestrian crossing mid-block appeared in front of me after he crossed in front of a panel truck where we couldn’t see one another approaching. I grabbed both brakes hard, my rear wheel skidding, and I hit him in the side and shoulder with my handlebar and chest. I pushed him about a foot down the road before we stopped. We apologized to each other and fortunately neither of us was hurt.

    The lesson I learned was that passing on the right was bad news, because nobody expected me to be coming from there, and I could never be sure some sort of traffic wasn’t about to cross the line of stopped motor traffic where we couldn’t see one another.  A couple of years previously I had learned the lesson not to ride on sidewalks, because despite the yells of motorists to get out of the roadway, and the encouragement of other students and NCDOT to ride on sidewalk facilities like the Avent Ferry sidepath, I found the sidewalks far too hazardous due to conflicts with other traffic at junctions, and I didn’t like making pedestrians feel uncomfortable.

    By the end of my grad school at State, I was biking exclusively in the travel lane, never passing on the right, stopping at all stop signs, and waiting for red lights to turn green. I stayed out of the door zone and merged in line with traffic as I needed. I asked a Raleigh-born friend why some local motorists honked their horns at me, like they had never seen this before, and he told me it was because “you ride like you think you’re a car.”  Given the choice between horn honks and likely collisions, I chose horn honks, and always have since. I’ve been bike commuting in the Triangle for 30 years now, “driving” my bike, and have never crashed into anyone with the exception of that pedestrian on Pullen.

    So how does this relate to bike lanes? Given the traffic congestion on Hillsborough, cyclists will be using the bike lanes to pass to the right of slow motor vehicles as often as motor vehicles will be passing cyclists. More pedestrians are crossing Hillsborough street mid-block since the redesign and median addition. While I hope the bike lanes reduce sidewalk cycling in favor of less hazardous roadway cycling, I hope the cyclists who will be passing on the right will have better luck avoiding collisions with pedestrians crossing mid-block than I did.


  • Steven Goodridge
    08/13 02:00 PM

    Typo correction: I meant to write that I’ve been bike commuting in the Triangle for 20 years, not 30. I’ve only lived in the Triangle for 20 years; I was cycling in New Hampshire for the prior 10 years.

  • JeffS
    08/13 02:57 PM

    Steven, good post overall, but unfortunately, another example of the negative connotation associated with “passing on the right” to try to make your point.

    When Hillsborough St. had two full size lanes no one ever referred to overtaking another car in the right hand lane as “passing on the right”. So why the change?

    A bike lane changes the rules of the road. Ignorance of said rules should be expected, but not excused.

  • Wayne Pein
    08/13 04:01 PM


    Passing on the right exists when there are two full sized lanes or when one lane is a half width bike lane. But the difference is that a half width lane has reduced sight triangles for its users, and reduced clearances from crossing impacts. Moreover, a bike lane is not considered a legitimate threat to crossing pedestrians as would be a lane with motor traffic; it is more likely to be ignored or considered a refuge. The result is that bicyclists on Hillsborough who pass stopped motor traffic on the right are at considerable risk of striking a darting, unseen pedestrian, much like the female in black in the picture on this thread (though she apparently is waiting).

    What are the NC statutes supporting your assertion that “A bike lane changes the rules of the road?”

    What is your objection to stripping the 5’ Buffer (which is now called a Bike Lane) as a Buffer with diagonal lines?



  • Steven Goodridge
    08/14 10:17 PM

    Wayne did an excellent job of answering your question, so there isn’t much I can add to it. In addition to the way pedestrians act as though bike lanes are “traffic-free zones” rather than travel lanes carrying traffic that poses a collision threat or right of way conflict, motorists don’t treat bike lanes as bona fide travel lanes either. Motorists are unlikely to expect or yield to cyclists overtaking on the right in their blind spot, and fail to merge into the bike lane when approaching a right turn. By contrast, motorists in the left through lane are conditioned to look back and merge right into normal travel lanes when approaching a right turn.  The result is that cyclists who overtake on the right in bike lanes face a higher risk of right hook and sideswipe collisions than do drivers who overtake on the right in a full width travel lane.

  • Steven Goodridge
    08/14 10:29 PM

    Having re-read my post, I think I was still not clear enough:

    Passing on the right in a separate, marked, full width travel lane from the vehicle being overtaken is reasonably safe because the driver being overtaken normally knows better than to turn right from the left hand lane or to move into the right lane without looking back and to the right for traffic that might be there.

    Passing on the right in the same lane as the overtaken vehicle, or on a paved shoulder, is much less safe because the driver of that vehicle usually doesn’t expect it. Marking that normally unused, marginal pavement space as a bike lane doesn’t change motorist’s performance to compensate for the elevated crash risk.

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