How Bike-friendly Is Raleigh?
Written by Jennifer Baldwin, City of Raleigh Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator
The BikeRaleigh Program is committed to promoting and encouraging bicycling as a safe, fun, and efficient commute option. In 2011 the League of American Bicyclists recognized the City as a bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community as a result. This award is up for renewal next spring, and Raleigh has high hopes to achieve silver level status. To help cities across the country evaluate their bicycle friendliness, Steve Clark, the League’s Bicycle Friendly Community specialist, is on a three-year tour of the designated bicycle friendly communities.
Clark visited Raleigh last month, giving Raleigh staff an opportunity to showcase the BikeRaleigh Program and receive valuable feedback from Clark on how to improve. The visit kicked off with an internal staff review of the BikeRaleigh program and the 5Es: The presentation was organized by the 5 E’s: Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation.
Clark commented that Raleigh’s 27-mile bicycle pavement marking design project, which will be the City’s first installation of buffered bicycle lanes and green colored pavement markings, is a step in the right direction to encourage more cyclists to consider a bike commute. Clark then provided staff with an overview of the League’s bicycle friendly program, including the new Diamond designation.
After the presentation, staff and Clark grabbed their bikes and helmets for a quick tour of Downtown Raleigh. The ride showed Clark some existing bicycle facilities, such as the bike lanes implemented as part of a road diet on Hillsborough Street between Oberlin Road and Morgan Street. The ride also previewed sections of streets that will be improved next year, such as Gorman Street between Sullivan Drive and Hillsborough Street, which will be the site of Raleigh’s first two-way cycle track.
After the ride, Clark had a chance to explore Raleigh a bit more by bike before meeting with the general public, Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commissioners, Oaks & Spokes representatives, and City staff for a social at Raleigh Times Bar. He gave a presentation about the League’s bicycle friendly community program and highlighted areas where he saw opportunity for improvement in Raleigh. Parking policies, open streets events, and safe routes to school programming could be areas in need of improvement.
Clark concluded his visit by explaining that a city’s bicycle friendly status is formed by advocacy, political willpower, and dedicated city staff. Without any of one of those three ingredients, a community cannot reach its full bicycle friendly potential, Clark said.