City of Raleigh to Extend Hillsborough Street Bike Lane Test Period

City of Raleigh to Extend Hillsborough Street Bike Lane Test Period

November, 16, 2011, by Jedidiah

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The Hillsborough Street bike lanes, which were installed in July, have created a love-hate relationship with a lot of local bikers, but the comment period seems to have worked.  The Raleigh City Council approved, by a vote of 7-1, to keep the bike lane pilot program going for a bit longer until it can study a few other locations in the downtown area, including Oberlin Road, Clark Avenue and Faircloth Street. If only we could get some of these lanes to come more towards the downtown grid, we'd be in business.  

You can find more info on the City of Raleigh's bicycle program over at its website.

Today, the Raleigh City Council approved the recommendation from the City of Raleigh Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission to request an extension from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) of the temporary bicycle lane markings along Hillsborough Street between Gardner Street and Enterprise Street.

In 2010, cyclists petitioned the City to install striped bicycle lanes on Hillsborough Street.  The Raleigh City Council endorsed the bicycle lanes and requested approval from the NCDOT. Approval was given to install temporary bicycle lanes as a pilot project, with an observation period of up to six months.  The temporary markings were installed in August of 2011.

The commission received 94 public comments regarding the bicycle lanes and gave citizens an opportunity to comment on the issue during its October 17th meeting. By a vote of 7-1, the commission recommended to extend the pilot period to allow the City to complete several bicycle marking projects in the surrounding area, such as Oberlin Road, Clark Avenue and Faircloth Street.  


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Hillsborough StreetBicyclesBikesBicyclingbikingBicycle LanesBike LanesHillsborough Street Rennaisance


  • Rob E.
    11/17 10:28 AM

    I wish I knew this vote was coming up. That’s what I get for not paying attention.

    I was at the Bicycle/Pedestrian Commission meeting on this subject and learned that public opinion is pretty evenly split on the topic. However, a local bike safety instructor was opposed, as was the NC State Transportation office, and the city’s department of transportation. The state DOT has always had, and I believe continues to have reservations about bike lanes on this stretch.

    Basically every organization or person that makes safe traffic movement their business, and half of private observers, consider the Hillsborough lanes unsafe. I wish I saw those concerns better represented in the vote numbers. Who was our one opponent of the bike lanes on City Council?

  • Eric Lamb
    11/17 11:03 AM


    The Council vote to request extending the pilot was unanimous; the vote at the BPAC was 7-1, with Commissioner Mike Dayton voting against deferring a decision.  NCDOT has given us a verbal response that they will allow the pilot to continue since there has been no accident pattern associated with the bike lanes so far.


    We have several other bike marking projects around downtown coming, including shared-lane arrows (“sharrows”) on Hargett Street from West Street to Tarboro Road that should be installed next spring.

  • Rob E.
    11/17 11:36 AM

    Thanks for the clarification, Eric. I had remembered that Mike was opposed. I was hopeful that at least one member of City Council also saw that the balance of professional opinion seemed to be coming down against the current road configuration.

    In most cases I can understand a more measured, less hasty decision making process. In this case, I am concerned that it is a safety issue and should be decided once all applicable data is available. I don’t know what data remains to be gathered other than waiting to see if we can’t make it through the trial period without an accident. “How long can we leave an unsafe situation in place before someone gets hurt?” is not a data point I would be anxious to collect, but I guess no one considers it unsafe unless there is an accident.

  • Alarmist
    11/17 03:34 PM

    Rob has a great point.  Lack of accidents doesn’t mean the lane is safe.  The fact that Rob is hysterical about these lanes means they are unsafe.  That is the appropriate data measure.

  • Steelcity36
    11/17 03:47 PM

    I don’t think they are wide enough! When I ride my scooter in these lanes my sideview mirrors constantly hit car and truck sideview mirrors. It is a nightmare.

  • DPK
    11/17 05:33 PM

    Your scooter doesn’t belong in the bike lane if you’re at risk of damaging other vehicles.

  • TuffJew
    11/17 07:43 PM

    Scooter in a bike lane not wide enough? Aw man, I have that same problem when I drive on the sidewalk… what’s their problem?

  • Lara
    11/18 01:45 PM

    I kind of wish the money being spent towards those future lanes would go toward enforcing the speed limits in pedestrian/biker heavy areas like Oberlin and Glenwood. You can paint in bike lanes, pedestrian crosswalks and the like until the cows come home but a car going 50 on in a 35 zone has a lot less time to react to a biker or pedestrian with the right of way.
    I mean, I’ve already contacted the police and the city about it multiple times and in my daily rides down Oberlin I’ve seen a cop pulling someone over maybe once. It’s kind of ridiculous, especially knowing how much foot and bike traffic that road gets.

  • Rob E.
    11/18 04:15 PM

    Sorry if I come across as alarmist. No, I don’t like the bike lane. Not because I don’t like bike lanes or bikes, but because this seems like a particularly dangerous implementation of a bike lane. I had hoped to come away from the BPAC meeting on this topic either convinced that I had misjudged the bike lane, or optimistic that city council would be convinced of the potential danger the Hillsborough lanes create. Instead I got the impression that every person who makes bicycle and/or traffic safety a part of their career is also concerned about the safety of these lanes. And I got the impression that the city was going to take their time doing anything about them.  Jedidiah feels that “the comment period seems to have worked,” but I guess I did not come away with as optimistic a view. After soliciting comments from the public and dedicating a chunk of the monthly meeting to the topic, the decision was made to not make a decision. The original plan involved deciding on the bike lanes by the end of January, I believe. After public comment and debate, that date is pushed back farther, a result that was asked for by no one. I understand some of the reasoning involved, and I know that all the people involved have the best of intentions towards the city and the people who live here. I simply remain concerned about potential consequences of no action being taken. And regardless of whether you are in favor or not in favor of the bike lane, it seems like the goal of the public comment period was to reach a decision, not to postpone one.

  • Steven W
    11/19 11:31 AM

    The problem is Hillsborough Street is maintained by the state, and the City can’t make promises about what NCDOT will agree to. If we had an NCDOT representative at the Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commission meeting, then they might have agreed to remove the bike lanes and put sharrows (shared lane markings) in the center of the travel lane. But since there was no rep for the state, the only option we were offered was to remove the bike lanes and put sharrows in the door zone. No one was asking for that, either. This way we still have time to get it right.

  • bike light
    11/25 01:44 AM

    Obey all traffic laws and signs when riding your beach cruiser. Although most people don’t need to be reminded of this, we just want to ensure the safety of everyone that buys a beach cruiser from them.

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