Local News

NC State street trying out bike lanes

Posted August 11, 2011 5:42 p.m. EDT
Updated August 11, 2011 7:00 p.m. EDT

— The city of Raleigh is evaluating the usage of bicycle lanes near North Carolina State University for the next several months to see if they should become permanent.

Last year, the City Council approved the temporary installation of two 11-foot-wide travel lanes for vehicles, two 5-foot lanes for bicycle and two 7-foot lanes for parking along the two-lane Hillsborough Street from Enterprise Street to Gardner Street.

Eric Lamb, Raleigh's manager of transportation services and planning, says it's part of an effort between the city and the North Carolina Department of Transportation to determine the best way to handle bicycle traffic near campus.

It's the first time the design – squeezing bicycles between vehicles and on-street parking – has been used in the state.

"I liken it to licorice," Lamb said. "You either love it, or you hate it."

The lanes were installed about two weeks ago, and the city plans to begin soliciting feedback on them in the coming days. The DOT will make a final decision on whether to make them permanent within the next six months.

Bicycle-safety advocate Steven Goodridge, though, says the bicycle lanes are dangerous because they aren't wide enough and that cyclists don't have the space to move out of the way from opening car doors.

"I think they're too close to the doors of the parked cars," he said.

A possible solution, he says, is shared lane markings – or "sharrows" – in the middle of the travel lane.

"That encourages cyclists to stay outside of the door zone, and it helps remind drivers that cyclists are entitled to be there," Goodridge said.

Lamb says the current lane design is the best the city and the DOT could do with the limited room in the area.

"We really were constrained," he said. "There really were concerns about how the bike lanes would fit in."