Let’s go ride a Bike

“I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike.”
See if you can get that earworm outta your head NOW.

I’ll wait…

It’s National Bicycle Month – what does that actually mean, and why should you care?

I’m glad you asked.

Because this month there are so many ways for you to not only get out and see Cary and our community on your bike, but you will also notice that lots of folks are already doing so – and we all want to be safe out there.


My Bike History  (a short tale, like me)

I’m kinda a bike nerd.  I didn’t start that way. I took easy rides with the family and enjoyed just getting out there with the kids.

My family – many years ago

Then, I had this friend, Wayne, who first got me on a road bike.  (Let’s all blame him. OK?)  I started taking my hybrid on the road, but I found it so very heavy to do longer rides.  I moved up to a road bike, so much lighter and easier to maneuver.  But I was scared – mostly about all the spandex that folks wear, but also about the vulnerability of being on the road, next to vehicles that could easily bump or hit me.  I know that I’m no threat to a car – but I also know how easily it is to be distracted as a driver, and miss seeing a cyclist. It’s something I think about all the time when I’m on the road.   Read More…

Build Your Own Street

I have been meaning to write about this really cool tool since I saw it at Code for America last year. It’s call StreetMix, and it unleashes the “inner urban planner” that is inside of you, just waiting to get out.

What is it?

StreetMix is an online interactive tool that allows anyone to build a street, section by section. It is designed to help folks create mock-ups of streets allowing them to see and engage with the design. Many citizens and governments have used this tool as a way to connect with their community about future road changes, and to gather feedback and comments.


Why I like it

As a visual person, the thing that struck me about this was the way all of the technical details of a street can be translated into a picture, truly demonstrating to a citizen the way a street will “feel” based on proposed changes.

Also, because it’s so easy to use, anyone can play around with it, adding width to a sidewalk, moving bike lanes, or if you are so inclined, creating your own little “dream street.”

Streetmix Uses

There were a number of case studies presented at Code for America about the use of StreetMix with citizens and local governments. (You can also read more at their Blog.)   Read More…

Win Some – Lose Some

I’ve often been asked, “What is the best part of being a Cary Town Councilmember?” Or, “What is it that you like about being on Council.”

It’s a hard question to answer. Not because there is little to “like” but rather, the contrary. There is so much I enjoy.

Overall though, I enjoy taking ideas I have to improve the town and bringing those ideas to fruition. Sometimes that means taking problems or issues, often brought up by citizens, and then finding various workable solutions. Or, taking suggestions from community leaders, advocates, or Town Staff, and finding new and innovative ways to implement them, all with the goal of improving our collective quality of life, and making the Town an EVEN better place to live.

There have been successes, for sure. (I’d like to think that the Technology Task Force is one of those, and I’ll write another blog post about that, this week.) But there have also been times where things haven’t gone as I had hoped. And, it wouldn’t be a “real life blog” if I overlooked those. So, here goes.

A Bike and Walkable Champion

About two years ago, I brought up the idea to council that we should be looking at ways to make our town more bike and pedestrian friendly.

1000milesAs an avid walker and cyclist, I see opportunities for improving our activities, ordinances, and vision when it comes to supporting folks that use our roads, sidewalks and greenways – not just for recreation, but for commuting as well. (I just hit my 1000 mile mark with my FitBit! Woo hoo!)

Council agreed that it was worth looking into and discussing, along with several other potential areas – such as Historic Preservation, our Senior Community, Persons with Disabilities, and a number of others.  We put them all to the side, to have a larger brainstorming session – with the goal of determining which areas we’d like to have more “citizen input.”

Fast Forward a Year

About a year later, October 2012, we had that brainstorming session, and sure enough, Pedestrian and Mobility issues bubbled up near the top.  I was glad to see that my fellow council members were looking for more citizen input, guidance and feedback.   I was hopeful.

Time to Share my Thoughts

Finally last week (more than two years after the original discussion), we had a work session on the potential of adding four new boards and commissions – a Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Council (BPAC), one for Historic Preservation, a Senior related board, and a committee for persons with disabilities.

I couldn’t wait any longer – so I made my pitch.

I had talked with cycling advocates, walkers and citizens about this idea.  I had reached out to the former head of the Durham BPAC and members of the Raleigh BPAC.  I consulted with folks that have worked with Cary staff on improving bicycle and pedestrian safety.  And I brought all that to the table.  Here’s what I said…

Why Does Cary Need a BPAC?

It’s a movement – and more and more of us are walking and riding.

There is a growing movement and population that like to to walk and bike – we should continue to find ways to make it safe to do so

  • Greenways are one of our “highest rated” and used resources in Cary
  • We need to do more to find ways to connect the Greenways, and get people to feel safe and comfortable walking and riding.
  • We need the expertise in the community to weigh in, additional advise from real users
  • Issues and concerns have been raised in the community about sidewalks that are missing on various sides of key roads
  • We need a holistic and COMPREHENSIVE review of Bicycle and Pedestrian access across all of Cary, not just NEW developments, or sidewalks.  That is, full integration of biking and walking into community transportation policies and practices
  • BPACs can review development plans and site plans which may have a significant impact on bike mobility and  transportation
  • BPACs can facilitate citizen participation with biking community

Cary is now a “bicycle friendly” area – but we can do so much more to engage citizens.

  • we could create safety programs for kids/seniors (as done in other BPACs)
  • Programs can directly attack the obesity issue: finding better ways to get kids to walk and bike to schools, safely
  • Studies show that children living near an extra-wide walking and biking trail were 3 times more likely to get vigorous exercise than kids in a similar low-income neighborhood with regular sidewalks. In other words: if you build it, they will walk, run, bike and skate-board
  • Education to the greater community – promoting bike and pedestrian education and safety initiatives – partnering with certified bike instructors, and law enforcement, and other interested groups in the community, and promote bike safety education on the “rules of the road” and “sharing the road” for motorist and bicyclists of all ages.

Outcomes from these Goals

The economic, environmental and community benefits of cycling and walking deserve our attention, and should be a vital part of our processes. Let’s face it,there are great reasons to do it – the reduction of air and noise pollution (enhancing our sustainability goals) , reducing our traffic congestion, helping to alleviate our vehicular parking demands – all while saving energy, using land and road space more efficiently, and in turn, saving our citizens money.    Read More…

I like to ride my bicycle

I wish I could say I’m a cyclist.  I’m not, really.  I’m just a crazy nut that likes to get on my bike and ride for hours on end.  Ok, maybe that’s the definition of a cyclist – who knows.

American Tobacco Trail photo by NMNC

What I do know is that this area is one of the absolutely best places to ride. We have easy access to the gorgeous rural roads in Chatham County, nice quiet roads near Shearon Harris, wonderful greenways and the American Tobacco Trail. Whether you are a recreational rider, a die-hard commuter, or somewhere in between, you can find something that works for you.

Read More…

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