What if you could bike down a street without vehicles driving at high speeds? It sounds like fiction, but it may soon become a reality in this city. Durham Bicycle Boulevards is an advocacy group dedicated to ensuring the safety of bicyclists for generations to come.
Coming to Durham, Bicycle Boulevards
by: Josh Factor
The organization is working to bring “bicycle boulevards” to Durham. For those unfamiliar with the term, a bicycle boulevard is a type of street which has been designed to ensure optimal cycling conditions. They shift bikes away from busier streets with lots of vehicles to calmer streets with less and slower traffic.
While cars aren’t prohibited from traveling down or parking on these “bicycle boulevards” through traffic is discouraged, thereby creating a safer street environment for less city confident bicyclists who wish to ride their bikes. This type of system has already been implemented in municipalities such as Tucson, Palo Alto, and Seattle.
Durham Bicycle Boulevards or DBB is currently raising Kickstarter funds for this project, and they’re getting very close to being funded. They have until Wednesday March 1st to reach their fundraising goal.
The funding will be used for design, tactical materials, promotional materials, 3D modeling, and support for their design interns. If they meet their goal, they expect to have the entire network of bicycle boulevards completed by Christmas 2017. I recently had the pleasure of talking to one of the DBB interns, Brian Vaughn, a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill. Here is a summary of what he had to say.
Vaughn became involved with Durham Bicycle Boulevards after seeing a job posting for an intern position on Facebook. The goal of the organization is to raise $7500 in 30 days. Their Kickstarter will end this Tuesday. If they are unable to meet their goal, they will try again in the near future. However, they are confident that they’ll be able to meet their goal by that time.
They chose Durham specifically due to its really well interconnected network of streets. They feel this makes our city the perfect candidate for a Bicycle Boulevard. Their goal is not only for those who have cars to have the option of riding their bikes, but also for those without cars to have more mobility within the city.
The organization was founded by Aaron Lubeck who has a been a resident of Durham for over 15 years. Once he moved here, he became involved in sustainable redevelopment in local urban neighborhoods. He had ideas about sustainable transportation which led to him getting involved in the Triangle Bicycle Highways, North Carolina’s 6-line, 114-mile commuter network that connects businesses, schools, parks and people. This project has yet to be fully implemented.
Brian, a city planning and digital communications student, joined the team in December along with another intern, Robby Bessette. If they are able to meet this goal and implement the bicycle boulevards, they will then work to to expand the boulevards into other parts of the city in the near future to create a fully accessible network for bicyclists of all ages.
The campaign has already made significant progress since its inception and, with just a few days to go, is on track to meet their goal. So I wish them the best of luck on their Kickstarter and, if all goes as planned, we should have our own bicycle boulevards fully implemented by the end of the year.
Perhaps, Durham will be forever known as the bicycle capital of the South.
Josh Factor is an avid young writer, a native of Durham, NC, and a 2016 graduate of Elon University, where he majored in English.