Kannapolis has many roads that serve primarily motorists while creating unsafe conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users. Kannapolis needs to design roads that are safe for all road users, including motorists. Through making the roads safe for walking, bicycling and using transit, Kannapolis will also make the roads safer for driving an automobile. Since I feel motorists are often excluded from conversations about other modes of transportation and don’t understand the value of designing roads for all road users, I want to make it abundantly clear that redesigning roads for all road users will make the roads safer for motorists as well. This means all road users are benefiting from my advocacy and planning work.
The first road I will discuss is Loop Road. Even though I am willing, not comfortable, to bike on Loop Road because I am an “Enthused and Confident” transportation cyclist, the majority of cyclists are not willing to bike on Loop Road. Instead, one will most likely find these cyclists, which make up the “Interested but Concerned” group, on the sidewalk or driving an automobile while their bicycle is rusting away in their garage. A female (most cyclists in the United States are male) interested but concerned cyclist, who used to live in Kannapolis and currently lives in Rutherfordton, NC, shared with me on Facebook the following:
“I would love to live in a cycling community. I would put baskets and panniers on my old hybrid in a heartbeat if it were safe to pedal to the Bi-Lo! I would love for cycling to be an integral part of my daily routine and not only for exercise/recreation on the road bike.“
Most pedestrians in the South fit into this “Interested but Concerned” group as well. One of the reasons I feel this is true is because, as one can see in the below photo, most pedestrians would feel unsafe walking on this sidewalk. The sidewalk is unsafe because it is installed adjacent to the road without any physical separation from the road.
The below photo, which is from Charlotte DOT, is a great example of how a planting strip can be used to provide physical separation from the road. I would feel much safer walking along this road than Loop Road.
Another pedestrian and cyclist safety issue in the Loop Road photo is how the 8th Street Greenway abruptly ends on the north side of Loop Road without providing users a safe and convenient option to cross Loop Road to the North Carolina Research Campus. The nearest signalized intersections are North Main Street and West A Street, which have standard crosswalks but no pedestrian signals. The below photo, which shows the intersection of Loop Road and West A Street, could be improved for pedestrian safety by installing ladder crosswalks, pedestrian signals and median refuge islands on Loop Road. The motorist stopping beyond the stop bar in the crosswalk doesn’t help with making this intersection safer for pedestrians.
Thankfully, as the City of Kannapolis’ website shows, Kannapolis is working to redesign Loop Road to make it safer for all road users, especially the “Interested but Concerned” cyclists and pedestrians. The potential redesign of Loop Road involves a road diet, which in this case means “converting the outside travel lane to a buffered bicycle lane from West C St around to North Main St.” As this article from PeopleForBikes on protected/buffered bike lanes discusses and the below infographic shows, this redesign should encourage cyclists, especially the “Interested but Concerned” cyclists, to get their bike out of their garage and bike on the road.
The redesign should also encourage pedestrians, which all of us are at some point during the day, to walk on the sidewalk and cross the road. US Secretary of Transportation and former Mayor of Charlotte Anthony Foxx said, “Whether you live in a city or a small town, and whether you drive a car, take the bus or ride a train, at some point in the day, everyone is a pedestrian.”
For those unfamiliar with what road diets and buffered bike lanes are and the benefits of installing both together, Streetfilms produced the following video about road diets and the Green Lane Project produced the following video about the rise of buffered/protected bike lanes in the US.
Since Kannapolis is a small city and all the cities shown in the Green Lane Project’s video are large cities, one may wonder if buffered/protected bike lanes are being installed in small cities. As the below Streetfilms video shows, small and medium sized cities throughout the United States are installing buffered/protected bike lanes. Will Kannapolis, NC join these cities?
Here is a cross section and project maps for the proposed road diet and buffered bike lanes on Loop Road. According to the Green Lane Project, which is a People For Bikes program, Kannapolis would be the first city in North Carolina to have a buffered bike lane if it installs the buffered bike lanes on Loop Road. Visit the City of Kannapolis’ website for more information about the proposed project.
Loop Road Buffered Bike Lanes from West C Street to Biotechnology Lane
Since I will be in Charlotte tomorrow to watch The Human Scale, my next post will be delayed. I plan to discuss the complicated bike connection between where the proposed buffered bike lanes on Loop Road end and the proposed bike lanes on Mooresville Road end.