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The Daily Tar Heel

Carrboro strives for higher bike friendliness certification

The League of American Bicyclists last recognized Carrboro as a silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community in 2010. The town was first recognized by the league in 2001 when Carrboro became the first town in North Carolina to be designated a Bicycle Friendly Community.

Nicole Wynands, program manager for the league, said that for the silver-level designation, the organization looks at general themes regarding bike safety rather than specific criteria.

“What we’re looking for on silver level in general is a pretty good bike network, that they have bicycle education for children and adults and that there is designated staff for a community of Carrboro’s size that deals with bike planning and bicycle issues,” she said.

Wynands said the three areas Carrboro needs to improve on in order to achieve the highest level — platinum status — are better educating children on bicycle safety, updating the town’s bike plan and improving the enforcement of bicycle law.

“One of the criticisms that (the league) had was that we felt they were cruising,” Wynands said. “There hasn’t been many improvements since the last application. We like to see a lot of innovations and movement towards making the community better.”

Heidi Perry is one of the leaders of the Carrboro Bicycle Coalition, a bike safety advocacy organization. She said bicycle friendliness benefits local businesses.

“I think that when people are looking for a place to locate their business, they’re looking for a place that has a good quality of life for their employees — so a place that has a walkable and bikeable community is very appealing if they want to locate their employees there,” Perry said. “People who ride bikes tend to spend more locally than when they are driving.”

Perry said there are two major road projects that need to get underway before Carrboro’s next application to the League of American Bicyclists in four years.

One project is the widening of Smith Level Road to include bike lanes and sidewalks, Perry said. The other is the upgrading of Jones Ferry Road, which will entail narrowing the vehicular travel lanes to add more bike lanes and medians to help pedestrians cross, she said.

Trish McGuire, planning director for the town of Carrboro, said residents must work together as a community to achieve bike safety goals. She said she hopes the Comprehensive Bicycle Transportation Plan, which began in 2007 and is meant to make bicycling a viable transportation alternative throughout the town, will help Carrboro attain platinum-level bicycle friendly status.

“We’re at the silver level now, which is very good,” McGuire said. “We of course want to keep going on that trajectory so that people can continue to have extended opportunities for travelling via bike.”

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