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Monday May 10th

Biking along West Rosemary Street just got a lot safer

<p>File: Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill</p>
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File: Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill

Due to a large number of vehicles parking in the bike lane on West Rosemary Street, the Town of Chapel Hill has erected bollards and no parking signs along the lane in an effort to increase biker safety. 

This comes after residents of Carrboro voiced concerns last month about bike lines in the town. According to The League of American Bicyclists, Carrboro is a silver-rated biking community, while Chapel Hill is only bronze-rated.

The Town is using West Rosemary Street as a pilot location with flexible bollards to help all people traveling on the road — no matter their mode of transportation.

A number of frequent travelers on the street have reported vehicles parking in the bike lanes, according to a Town press release, particularly outside Shortbread Lofts, an apartment complex on West Rosemary Street.

Donnie Rhoads, a patrol captain at the Chapel Hill Police Department, said vehicles were parking in the bike lanes on West Rosemary Street every day. 

“Most of the folks that park in the bike lanes (on Rosemary Street) are the delivery vehicles,” he said. “There’s not a lot of loading zones on Rosemary Street, and I think that plays into it.” 

Since January, there have been five traffic violations regarding bike lanes on West Rosemary Street. However, Rhoads said the police department typically lets off vehicles in the lane with warnings. 

As for other roads throughout Chapel Hill, he said this problem is not as common. Many of the streets that have bike lanes, like Weaver Dairy Road, do not have the same amount of business and residences that West Rosemary Street does. 

Even though most of the obstruction of bike lanes comes from delivery vehicles stopping while they are unloading, it still poses a danger to both drivers and bikers because the bikers turn into the street to avoid the stopped vehicles and hinder traffic. 

On streets without bike lanes, the problem of biker traffic is even greater.

“Sometimes it’s hard to navigate the traffic,” said Lucy Bellamy, a sophomore at UNC who often bikes through the Town and campus. “I feel like I’m in everyone’s way.”  

Bellamy is a resident of Shortbread and said the bike lane outside the complex, while convenient, is often blocked by vehicles in loading zones. She brought a bike to school this semester to help save time getting to and from classes but has encountered obstacles on various occasions. 

Cameron Starnes, a junior at UNC, said he frequently drives in Chapel Hill and finds the lack of bike lanes on campus to be frustrating when driving near bikers.

“The bikers just don’t follow traffic patterns that much,” he said. “There’s been three instances over the past few years where I’ve almost hit someone.” 

Starnes said, however, he finds West Rosemary Street to be more navigable than campus roads like South Road, Cameron Avenue and Pittsboro Street. He wants the Town to put more bike lanes on campus. 

Bellamy said bike lanes help make her feel like less of a nuisance when she bikes. 

“If I’m on the road and there’s not a bike lane, I know I’m slowing down the cars behind me,” she said. 

On campus, she tries to walk her bike to avoid any accidents with other pedestrians on the crowded walkways. As for the bollards in the bike lane on West Rosemary Street, she said she has noticed them outside the front doors of Shortbread.

Rhoads does not think bollards will be placed along any other bike lanes anytime soon. If they are not necessary to prevent cars from stopping in the bike lanes, he said there is no reason to have more. 

@henryhaney17

city@dailytarheel.com

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