Local News

Chapel Hill improving safety for cyclists

Posted October 28, 2014

— A small white bike marks the spot on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Chapel Hill where cyclist Pamela Lane was killed when she was hit by a car pulling out of a gas station earlier this month.

That accident has pushed town leaders to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety. Town spokeswoman Catherine Lazorko said she's part of a team of staffers that has begun working on several solutions.

Some are already in effect, such as roadside digital signs reminding drivers to share the road.

“They have been installed in over the last two weeks,” said Rainer Dammers, a cyclist and member of the Bicycle Alliance of Chapel Hill, which contributed to the new safety improvements.

The town is also changing how some flashing crosswalk signals work.

“Those flashing lights - they are constantly flashing now, which over time dulls the attention to them,” Dammers said.

By November, the signs will only flash when a pedestrian activates them. The change is designed to keep drivers more alert.

Megan Floyd uses one of the crosswalks regularly and likes the idea.

“It's probably about 60/40 the amount of times cars will stop and be ready for you to cross,” she said.

Another improvement that is still in the works is an interactive map website. Pedestrians and cyclists will be able to post comments on the map, marking trouble spots for the town to consider.

“People can really see and remember where they were when they encountered trouble spots,” Lazorko said.

All of the new improvements should be in effect by November, and Chapel Hill police are also stepping up their patrols of crosswalks. They will be monitoring pedestrians crossing against the signal or outside the crosswalk.

Fines for those violations start at $213.


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  • iopsyc Oct 29, 2014

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    Why do some automobile drivers break every rule of the road?

  • RaleighNinja Oct 29, 2014

    I like that they are thinking about making the road safer for bicyclists by making car/truck drivers more aware of their presence, but I also believe that this needs to go both ways. Bicyclists also need to made more aware of the traffic laws that they need to follow both on and off the road. For example using hand signals just as (some) drivers use their turn signals to let others know their intentions when traveling on the roads, and not riding through stopped cars just as motorcycles are not allowed to do. Of course like others here have said there is a difference between education and enforcement. This is why our police officers have to also be educated on the laws that govern bicyclists and need to start ticketing those that break them. How many people have to get injured or killed for everyone to start paying attention, start following the rules, and start punishing those that don't?

  • Jerry Sawyer Oct 29, 2014
    user avatar

    No one wants to answer my question. Why do so many cyclists break every rule of the road?

  • disgusted2010 Oct 29, 2014

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    Typical arrogant post from an entitled liberal. Not only arrogant but childish in the way you thumb your nose at people who have as much right to their opinion as you do. Unfortunately liberals only recognize their own and like opinions.

  • Ralph Savary Oct 29, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Unpaved roads preceded paved roads much like the bicycle preceded the automobile so yes roads were initially built for bicycles not cars regardless of your inept clarification. Regardless, bicycles are recognized by law so deal with it.

  • 4Cats Oct 29, 2014

    Everyone needs to follow the rules...including bikes and people. The other morning on the way to work, I was driving down Frankin street, and two bicyclist were riding side by side blocking an entire lane of traffic. This is NOT sharing the road, but creating a dangerous situation for them and the drivers. Sharing goes both ways.

  • Brian Hill Oct 29, 2014
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    The roads were designed for cars. You can believe in whatever psuedohistory you want but they didn't start making modern paved roads because of bicycles, they started making them because the macadam roads of the time were unsuitable for the high speed horseless carriages of the time.

    The cyclists in Chapel Hill/Carrboro are especially arrogant; on more than one occasion, I have seen them refusing to use bike lanes and instead going out of their way to try and prevent cars from passing them (pulling to the left when the car tries to pass, etc.). Playing chicken with a 4000 pound steel car sounds like a good way to get killed.

  • jgriffith3792 Oct 29, 2014

    Here's a thought, make the cyclists - and pedestrians - be responsible and pay attention!!!

    Every day I drive through and around Chapel Hill. I watch cyclists weave around traffic, blow through stop signs, etc. all with their ear buds or headphones on. Same with the pedestrians. The cross walk on Airport Rd/MLK before Rosemary is terrible. Everyday I see folks step out from the behind bushes and into the road without even checking for traffic. Sure there is the sign for "state law must yield to pedestrians" but you can't see them until they are on the sidewalk stepping into the road. And then, they have their face in a screen or yapping into the phone stuck to the side of their head.

    Can't tell how many cars I have seen go into evasive and emergency maneuvers to avoid hitting these folks. Then, they just walk/ride on through totally oblivious as to the catastrophe that was just avoided thanks to someone else that was watching out and paying attention for THEM!

  • Jerry Sawyer Oct 29, 2014
    user avatar

    "reminding drivers to share the road"
    What a joke. cyclist are the ones who DO NOT "share the road" So many of them break every rule of the road there is. How in the world did a law every get passed that allowed cyclist to literally take over a roadway? Cyclist will continue to be injured and killed because they just refuse to move over when traffic is busy. If you are driving down a two lane road with yellow stripes, the cars have two choices. Everyone drive behind the bicycles or move across the yellow markings and risk getting hit themselves. This law is outrageous.

  • Fred Kozlof Oct 29, 2014
    user avatar

    Chapel Hill response is nuts...putting up more signs!! The law is wrong, bikes are much more like pedestrians than vehicles, and should not expect to have occupancy of the roadway as do cars & trucks. Cyclists need to use common sense and minimize their exposure, instead of the sense of entitlement that some of them have. RIDE DEFENSIVELY, not arrogantly.