Great Falls Park Transportation History

I wasn’t planning to write a post about my trip to Great Falls Park today because I assumed all that I would see and learn about was Great Falls.

I quickly realized how Great Falls Park’s transportation history directly impacted my transportation options to reach Great Falls Park from Arlington, VA. The visitor center at Great Falls Park has an exhibit devoted to the Great Falls and Old Dominion Railroad, which used to operate a trolley from Georgetown in Washington, DC to Great Falls Park, so I enjoyed learning more about the railroad and trolley. The trolley, which is shown in the below map, was in operation from 1906 to 1932.

dc_streetcar_diagram

Map shows trolley route from DC to Great Falls. Source: Wikipedia

While I was frustrated because I felt forced to drive to Great Falls Park today, I’m hopeful a new trolley system to Great Falls Park is built someday. Since the Great Falls Park parking lot was packed even in winter and many people in the DC region likely would prefer to leave their car at home, I assume a new trolley system would be successful. Surprisingly, the DC to Great Falls Park trolley line wasn’t originally built to take people from DC to Great Falls Park. Instead, the trolley line was built for people commuting from Fairfax County, VA, which is where Great Falls Park is located, to Washington, DC.

Since the trolley line wasn’t attracting enough customers on the weekend, the Great Falls and Old Dominion Railroad built the Great Falls Amusement Park, which had more amenities than the current park, to attract people to use the trolley line on the weekend. According to the visitor center exhibit, the Great Falls Amusement Park was a huge success and most people arrived by trolley. Since the trolley took 45 minutes and horse and buggy took 2 hours, I can see why the trolley was so popular. As is common with trolley systems throughout the US, automobiles proved to be faster and became more popular than trolleys so the DC to Great Falls trolley closed.

I realize a new trolley line isn’t coming anytime soon so I looked for other options to get to Great Falls Park. While I saw a group of training cyclists risking their lives on Old Dominion Drive, which is a curvy, two-lane rural road where they were biking, I wasn’t willing to risk my life biking on Old Dominion Drive so I’m thankful I chose to rent a car through Turo and drive to Great Falls Church. Since I used Getaround one time in Oregon to go hiking with Gerald and my dad used Turo to rent a car when he visited me in Portland for my graduation, I compared Getaround and Turo. I found more cars available in Arlington and cheaper cars through Turo so I rented a car through Turo. Yes, I drove a car for the first time today since driving from Kannapolis, NC to Charlotte during winter break in December 2015. I get very anxious when driving and feel more comfortable walking, biking, and riding transit so I’ve been trying to avoid driving.

Even though the rental car turned out to be useful, I didn’t originally get the rental car to go to Great Falls Park. I was originally planning to use the rental car to drive to Columbia, MD to meet Belita, who is a Nigerian (born and raised in Nigeria) woman I met through OkCupid. While normally I wouldn’t drive 80 miles round-trip to meet a woman, Belita lives in a famous planned community called Columbia, MD so I was already planning to visit Columbia someday. Having the opportunity to meet someone new, especially an attractive woman, is an added bonus. Plus, Belita offered to give me a personalized tour of her hometown and invited me to experience mass with her. If she gives me permission, I plan to interview her for a blog post about growing up in Nigeria, moving to the US, and her experience living in the planned community of Columbia. I’m looking forward to meeting Belita and visiting Columbia!

Returning to the Netherlands

I am excited to be returning to the Netherlands from July 1-17 with Portland State University. I previously traveled to Denmark and the Netherlands for three weeks during the summer of 2012 with the University of Oregon.

University of Oregon Group Ride in the Netherlands

University of Oregon Group Ride in the Netherlands

As I discussed in my first blog post, the Walk Score of my home in Kannapolis, NC is zero so I was forced to be in an automobile for all my trips. This is a major reason why I am so passionate about helping communities provide transportation choices. I desire to see communities where people aren’t forced to depend on an automobile for all their trips like I was forced to do growing up. Since I am still learning how to help communities provide transportation choices, I look forward to learning again from the Netherlands about how it has been successful in creating communities with transportation choices.

Learning about the transportation infrastructure isn’t my only goal with this trip. The course requires a design project. Since my design skills are weak, I am hoping to learn design software so I can be more involved with the completion of the design project. I was involved with multiple group projects during my first year in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program that I was unable to fully assist with because I lacked the necessary design skills. I hope to improve my design skills enough this summer so I will be fully prepared to assist my team with our planning workshop project, which starts in the winter quarter.

I will be blogging throughout my study abroad trip so expect to see another blog post soon.

Forced to Get Driver’s License

In my previous post, I mentioned how living car-light opened my eyes to the benefits of providing people with transportation choices and the negative outcomes of driving an automobile. While this is true, I believe my frustration with living in an automobile-centric society started sometime during high school when I could no longer take the school bus to school (started community college) or have my parents drive me everywhere. As many Northwest Cabarrus High School students experience, I was forced to get a driver’s license. However, I waited as long as possible to get my driver’s license. I got a driver’s license after I turned 18 when I needed to drive 1.5 miles from Northwest Cabarrus High School to Rowan Cabarrus Community College. If there was a bus to transport me, sidewalks, bike lanes, or a greenway, I probably would not have gotten a driver’s license during high school. Surprisingly, according to this article, I’m not the only teenager or young adult that doesn’t want to get a driver’s license.

Even though I didn’t care much about it before college, I wish I would have been able to walk or bike to school. As the below video discusses, only 13% of students walked or biked to school in 2009. This is down from nearly 50% in 1969, which is around the time when my parents went to school.

One of the reasons why I couldn’t easily walk or bike to school was how far I lived from school. I lived 5.5 miles from Odell Elementary School, 4 miles from Northwest Cabarrus Middle School, 12 miles from the School for Environmental Studies (transferred here because I was in a wheelchair after an automobile accident in middle school), and 4 miles from Northwest Cabarrus High School. Even if I lived nearby, it wasn’t safe to walk or bike to school. The largest barriers to me walking and biking to school were no sidewalks, bike lanes, greenways, bike racks, and crossing two or four lane highways with a 55 mph speed limit.

Thankfully, it is possible to walk and bike to school in the United States. Portland, OR is working hard to make it safe enough to walk and bike to school. Watch the below video to learn about the exciting things that Portland is doing. I will be moving to Portland this Saturday so look forward to learning more about Portland’s Safe Routes to School program.

Advocating for Automobiles to Advocating for People

Before I started at UNC Charlotte, I actually advocated for automobiles because I advocated for NC 3 to be widened between Mooresville and Kannapolis. Even though I can’t see your face or hear your reaction, many of my college friends have been surprised to learn that I haven’t always advocated for people. When I say I now advocate for people, this includes people who drive automobiles. This article discusses how it is possible to advocate for motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit users all at the same time. The below photo shows one example because First Avenue in New York City was redesigned to accommodate more than just motorists. As the after graphic demonstrates, motorists, bicyclists and transit users all have dedicated space on the road.

First Avenue in New York City

First Avenue in New York City

Even though the below photo may not be of First Avenue, it shows how pedestrians benefit from the road redesign because the crossing distance is shorter. Before the redesign, pedestrians didn’t have a pedestrian refuge island.

Pedestrians benefit

Motorists benefit from the redesign because there are left-turn pockets, which reduced the amount of automobile traffic delay on First Avenue. “No doubt many factors were involved, but a DOT spokesperson tells CityLab that the steady traffic flow was largely the result of adding left-turn pockets. In the old street configurations, cars turned left from a general traffic lane; in the new one, they merged into a left-turn slot beside the protected bike lane (below, an example from 8th and 23rd). This design has two key advantages: first, traffic doesn’t have to slow down until the left turn is complete, and second, drivers have an easier time seeing bike riders coming up beside them.”

Motorist benefits

Returning to how I advocated for motorists. I actually have proof of how I advocated for motorists through this Salisbury Post article from the week of January 23, 2009 (original article link was lost so article date is wrong). Hugh Fisher, who I am good friends with today, wrote the following in the article.

Not everyone was opposed to the idea of a wider N.C. 3. Ray Atkinson lives about a mile off of the highway.
“I think it’s good to plan for growth,” Atkinson said. The N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis would benefit from the proposed improvements, he added.

Since NC 3 between Mooresville and Kannapolis goes through low density land uses like farm land, I wouldn’t advocate for NC 3 to be widened today. Widening NC 3 where there is low density land use would promote sprawl. I may be open to supporting widening NC 3 if the area becomes more dense, but hopefully the area will only become more dense after fully developing the high density land uses within the city limits of Mooresville and Kannapolis. The following shows the article with a photo of me looking at maps of the options for NC 3.

Kannapolis Citizen article from January 28, 2009

Kannapolis Citizen article from the week of January 28, 2009

I said the statements during my senior year at Northwest Cabarrus High School and just a semester before I started at UNC Charlotte. What do you think I would say today with the below option as one of the choices?

Option B calls for a slightly higher residential zoning density and would allow more light commercial development in selected “neighborhood centers.”
That plan also calls for expanding N.C. 3 to a four-lane “rural parkway” designed to remain scenic, with a grassy median and no sidewalks. There would be a separate path alongside the road for pedestrians and cyclists.

If the interview were today, I believe I would have expressed appreciation for including “a separate path alongside the road for pedestrians and cyclists.” This change in perception can most likely be attributed to my car-light lifestyle while attending UNC Charlotte. Once I realized the benefits of providing people with transportation choices and seeing all the negative outcomes of driving an automobile, I co-founded and was president of the UNC Charlotte Cyclists Club. I find it amazing how much living car-light impacted my future education and career. When I started at UNC Charlotte, I didn’t even think about attending the University of Oregon or Portland State University. Becoming a sustainable transportation planner wasn’t even on my horizon before I started at UNC Charlotte.

One career path that did remain consistent throughout my life was my passion for geography. I have always enjoyed reading and creating maps. However, how I use and create maps have changed over the course of my life so far. Even though I was interested in geography before I started at UNC Charlotte, I was more interested in becoming a meteorologist just a few years before I refocused on becoming a planner. The below photo shows what my 4th grade teacher gave me in 2001, which shows proof of my interest in meteorology. Meteorologists and planners both use maps so this is where the careers are similar.

Due to possible confusion with the title of this post, I want to discuss the significance of why I chose to use the word “automobiles” in the the title. Since automobiles are not people, why not replace automobiles with motorists? I purposely wrote automobiles instead of motorists to show the impact of planning for automobiles instead of people. The below photo shows how this difference in thinking makes a huge difference in how our world has been planned. How many people are in the top and bottom halves of the photo? As you count the number of people, please remember motorists drive automobiles. I differentiate between automobiles and motorists because you can’t see motorists from outside their automobiles. If you counted automobiles, please recount the number of people. Do you see the difference?

If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places.

Another option for the title is “Advocating for Motorists to Advocating for People”. Since motorists are people, what is the difference between advocating for motorists and people?  The difference lies in the fact that not all people are motorists. In order to plan for people, planners need to plan for all modes of transportation and not just motorists. Surprisingly, I haven’t always thought this.

Returning to the Automobile Dependent South

My train leaves Washington, DC for Charlotte, NC this Saturday. The below photo shows how I transported everything one mile from the home I was staying in to the Takoma Park metro station then on the Red Line to Union Station.

Transporting everything I brought to DC back home to North Carolina

Transporting everything I brought to DC back home to North Carolina

While I am looking forward to catching up with family and friends before moving to Portland, OR in September, I am very nervous and frustrated about returning to the automobile dependent South. I have thoroughly enjoyed living car-free in the Washington, DC region since the end of June. During this time, I have been commuting to and from work, carrying groceries, attending meetings, and many other trips all by bicycle. In addition, I have been biking 100 miles over two days on some weekends. All of this will most likely change to near zero bike trips and near zero miles of biking everyday until I move to Portland, OR in September.

Due to the Washington, DC region having such a great network of trails, almost the entire 100 mile distance was on trails. The below map, which I found here and was last updated in 2003, shows the locations of most of the multi-use trails in the DC region.

Map of DC Multi-Use Trails

Map of DC Multi-Use Trails

Since the multi-use trails are separated from automobile traffic, I didn’t have to deal with fast moving automobile traffic or stressed out motorists that don’t seam to care about other people, including other motorists. While the Charlotte region is improving its trail network, especially with the help of all the parks and recreation departments and the Carolina Thread Trail, it currently does not have long distance trail networks. The below map shows current and future greenways in Mecklenburg County.

Mecklenburg County Greenway Map

Mecklenburg County Greenway Map

Due to the Charlotte region not having the extensive trail network that the DC region has, I am going to be forced to bike on the road for most of my trips again. Since this is too stressful for me and the high risk of dying, I will most likely leave my bike at home and use my parents’ automobile again. I almost wish I wasn’t returning to the South before moving to Portland, OR.

Car Dependence to Car Free

I moved from Kannapolis, NC to Silver Spring, MD on June 29. I wanted to write a blog post before arriving in Silver Spring about how I expected my life to change as I went from being dependent on my parents’ car for nearly every trip to car free for every trip. Since I had to pack, keep up with emails and sleep at least a few hours per night, I ended up not having time to write this blog post.

Now that I am in Silver Spring, I want to reflect on my experience so far with living car free. In order to check how I am handling living car free, I wanted to hear whether I would ever say, “where is my parents’ car when I needed it?” I haven’t said this once. Instead, I have asked, “why are people driving an automobile in a region that has good (could be improved in many ways) walking, biking and transit infrastructure?” When I asked this, I actually looked at my driver’s license and noticed it expires on September 19, 2016. This will occur after I have graduated from Portland State University and hopefully have started a full-time job. If I find a job in a location where I don’t need to drive an automobile, which I am determined to find, I am seriously considering not renewing my driver’s license. For the reasons I have discussed in previous posts and many more reasons that I haven’t written about yet, I would never have thought this in Kannapolis. However, since I have been involved with bike planning meetings in Kannapolis, I would like to say that Kannapolis recognizes that people are asking for healthy and liveable communities so it is working hard to make Kannapolis more bike friendly. I look forward to someday returning to Kannapolis and biking safely to do all my trips. I am confident this day will come before I die.

Since the walking, biking and transit infrastructure is reasonable in the DC region, I have been walking, biking and riding transit for all my trips. This includes biking to work, walking to lunch, biking to the grocery store, biking and riding transit to downtown DC, moving from home to home by bike, and many other trips. While I can write an essay on my experience with each of these trips, I decided to focus this post on just a few aspects of my experience with biking over 50 miles in one day throughout the DC region. I included comparisons to the Charlotte region and the Netherlands.

What better way to explore the DC region than by bicycle! As the below map of my July 4 ride shows, I have biked over 50 miles throughout the DC region in a single day. I did another 50+ mile ride on July 20. Due to my cell phone dying both times, which I have been using for directions and counting mileage (both need constant use of GPS and 3G), I don’t have an exact number of miles. Having my cell phone die also brings up a very serious safety issue for me because I need a cell phone to call my cousin, who actually lives in DC, and police. I am currently looking at purchasing another battery and/or a bike computer so I can do everything I want to do and not risk my safety.

Ray's 50+ mile bike ride on July 4

Ray’s 50+ mile bike ride on July 4

Continuing with how I biked over 50 miles. The last time I biked over 50 miles in one day was when I was in the Netherlands during the summer of 2012. I have never biked over 50 miles in one day in the Charlotte region. While the bike infrastructure is slowly improving in the Charlotte region, which one can see with the Charlotte City Council’s vote to build the Cross-Charlotte Trail, not having biked at least 50 miles in one day in the Charlotte region informs me how terrible the bike infrastructure is in the Charlotte region. The main reasons I biked over 50 miles in the DC region was because the trail networks are well connected and last for miles and many roads like Beach Drive have slow-speed traffic and many cyclists to bike with.

Sections of Beach Drive are closed to motor vehicles on the weekends and holidays

Sections of Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park are closed to motor vehicles on the weekends and holidays

I start riding on these trails and roads and forget how long I have been riding. It makes it even easier to ride for miles when I ride alongside a stranger or two as we discuss our histories, why we love cycling, how we would improve cycling in the DC region, and above all motivate each other to keep going. I can’t wait to do this with my future classmates and coworkers as we ride thousands of miles together!

I plan to bike over 50 miles every weekend I am in the DC region and continue biking over 50 miles per day as often as I can once I arrive in Portland. While the DC region has a great transit system, I find biking to be the best way to explore the DC region because I am not restricted to exploring where the transit system goes, it costs less to bike, biking is faster than walking, I enjoy getting lost in a neighborhood I have never been in before, I can stop where ever I want, I enjoy watching people as they move and interact, people on transit are usually glued to their cell phones or sleeping, and many other reasons.

Since my parents, especially my mom, have been asking me what I am doing at my internship, I will provide a quick overview. Even though my title is Transportation Planning Intern at Toole Design Group, which I thought would have involved reading and writing transportation planning documents and less GIS analysis, all my work has been GIS analysis. In addition, the path to receiving my current internship was unlike any of my other internships and I have had several internships. Without writing another essay, I will just say that I applied for the internship in March after being recommended by a current employee in Toole Design Group’s Boston office for a full-time GIS Analyst position. I know the Boston employee from serving on the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP)’s Young Professionals Committee. I ended up applying for both the GIS Analyst and Transportation Planning Intern positions.

Continuing with what I am doing at my internship. After reading the internship responsibilities in March, I was informed what my internship responsibilities were going to be in June. Since I am currently working on a real project from the start of the project until I have to leave for Portland (short stop in Kannapolis), it was worth the wait to find out what my internship responsibilities were going to be. I have been using ArcGIS 10.2 and Google Earth so far to determine where 200 bike share stations should be located for Philadelphia’s bike share program, which will launch in 2015. I have been communicating with Toole Design Group staff in Portland, OR and Silver Spring, MD and City of Philadelphia staff. One of the things we communicated about was requesting data from the CyclePhilly App, which is shown below. I have never had an internship as fast-paced or involve as many people as this internship is. With the help of my supervisors, I have felt prepared for every challenge and am ready for what my next challenge brings!

CyclePhilly App’s first six weeks reveals where people in the Philadelphia region ride

CyclePhilly App’s first six weeks reveals where people in the Philadelphia region ride

I want to write about many more aspects of my transition from car dependence to car free, but will save these aspects for future posts and in person discussions. Since I am interning full-time, taking time to eat so I can try to gain weight while biking, doing all the house chores (living alone at the moment), biking countless amount of miles per day, and trying to get enough sleep per night, I am not sure when my next post will be. I am writing new draft posts every day when I see, hear, touch, smell, and taste something I want to write about. I have so far written nearly 50 draft posts, which are ready to be fully written so definitely have plenty to photograph, research and write about. Yes, my next post should have less words and more photos.

Ray’s Redesign to Create Bike Connection

Kannapolis has been talking about the proposed widening of Mooresville Road, which includes wider outside travel lanes for cyclists, and proposed road diet and buffered bike lanes on Loop Road for several months. However, very few people have been talking about the missing bike connection between these two projects. I hope this blog post will provide Kannapolis and NCDOT with a potential redesign to safely and conveniently connect both projects. Before I discuss my redesign, I want to make sure everyone knows where the missing bike connection is located in Kannapolis. I also want to provide a short overview of who owns Loop Road and Mooresville Road because I feel this has impacted both projects.

Where is the missing bike connection?

In order to show the location of the missing bike connection, I first need to show how the missing bike connection is connected to the Loop Road and Mooresville Road projects. The below map shows both projects. Starting from the left side of the map, the Mooresville Road project begins at Kannapolis Parkway and concludes at Dale Earnhardt Blvd, which is located where the red highlight is. The Loop Road project begins at West C Street, which is where the white dot is located above the orange highlight, and concludes at Main Street, which is where the pointer is located at 100 Loop Road. The missing bike connection, which can more easily be seen in the next map, is located between the Mooresville Road project and Loop Road project.

Where are the Mooresville Road and Loop Road projects located?

Where are the Mooresville Road and Loop Road projects located?

The below map shows where the proposed project on Loop Road ends at West C Street/South Walnut Street, which is where Loop Road changes names to Dale Earnhardt Blvd. The below map also shows where the proposed project on Mooresville Road ends at Dale Earnhardt Blvd, which is just before Mooresville Road changes names to Watson Crick Drive. The missing bike connection, which is highlighted in blue, is located on Dale Earnhardt Blvd between West C Street/South Walnut Street and Mooresville Road/Watson Crick Drive.

Loop Road to Mooresville Road Bike Connection

Loop Road to Mooresville Road Bike Connection

With the location in mind, below are the Mooresville Road and Loop Road project maps to provide proof that the missing bike connection is real. Since the Mooresville Road project maps are PDFs, I can’t show the maps so I have provided the links to the maps below. As NCDOT’s notice shows, there is a public hearing about the Mooresville Road widening project on Wednesday, July 9 from 4-6:30pm at the Cabarrus Health Alliance Building, which is located at 300 Mooresville Road in Kannapolis. I will be in Silver Spring, MD so cannot attend, but I encourage anyone interested in this project to attend.

Mooresville Road Widening Project from Kannapolis Parkway to Bethpage Road

Mooresville Road Widening Project from Bethpage Road to Dale Earnhardt Blvd

Below are the Loop Road project maps as of February 11, 2014. Since public hearings are still occurring for both projects, all the project maps are subject to change. Do you see the missing bike connection between the Mooresville Road project and the Loop Road project?

Loop Road Buffered Bike Lanes  from Biotechnology Lane to West C Street

Loop Road Buffered Bike Lanes from West C St/S Walnut St to Biotechnology Ln

Loop Road Buffered Bike Lanes from Biotechnology Lane to Main Street

Loop Road Buffered Bike Lanes from Biotechnology Ln to Main St

Kannapolis Owned vs. NCDOT Owned

The sections along Loop Road where the proposed road diet and buffered bike lanes could be installed may be transferred from NCDOT owned to City of Kannapolis owned. The sections along Mooresville Road where the proposed wider outside travel lanes for cyclists could be installed are currently NCDOT owned. Since both projects are not along sections of road that are city owned, I feel it is creating a difficult situation to make sure there is a safe and convenient bike connection between the two projects.

As of the resolution that was approved by Kannapolis City Council on Monday, June 23, Kannapolis is requesting NCDOT to abandon sections of Loop Road and Dale Earnhardt Blvd from State maintenance. This includes the entire project area for the road diet and buffered bike lanes on Loop Road and the missing bike connection on Dale Earnhardt Blvd. If NCDOT accepts the Kannapolis City Council’s request, these sections will be added to the City of Kannapolis’ Street System for maintenance. However, from what I have observed on the project maps, it doesn’t appear that this means the road diet and buffered bike lanes on Loop Road will be extended beyond the intersection of Loop Road and West C Street/South Walnut Street to the intersection of Dale Earnhardt Blvd (Loop Road changes names) and Mooresville Road/Watson Crick Drive. Since the Loop Road project will still end at West C Street/South Walnut Street, the missing bike connection will still exist.

After speaking with individuals involved in the Loop Road project, I discovered they have an alternative plan to create the bike connection between both projects. Instead of extending the road diet and buffered bike lanes to the intersection of Mooresville Road/Watson Crick Drive,  they want to end the road diet and buffered bike lanes at West C Street/South Walnut Street and route cyclists onto a multi-use path. They want to create this multi-use path through widening the sidewalk shown in the below photo. As one can see, there is a power line adjacent to the sidewalk. It probably is expensive to relocate the power line so the sidewalk can be widened for the creation of the multi-use path.

Power line may prevent widening of sidewalk for multi-use path

The Mooresville Road project, which is owned by the NCDOT, introduces another issue. Since the City of Kannapolis doesn’t own the sections of Mooresville Road where the proposed project is located, I feel it has less control over the proposed wider outside travel lanes for cyclists on Mooresville Road than it would have if these sections were owned by the city. One example of this can be seen in how the Mooresville Road project ends at Dale Earnhardt Blvd, which is just before Mooresville Road changes names to Watson Crick Drive. Since it would make the missing bike connection from the Loop Road project safer and more convenient, I would like NCDOT to extend the Mooresville Road project from Dale Earnhardt Blvd to Laureate Way.

Watson Crick Drive between Dale Earnhardt Blvd and Laureate Way

Watson Crick Drive between Dale Earnhardt Blvd and Laureate Way

Ray’s Redesign to Create Bike Connection

With the location and ownership details discussed for both projects, I will begin to discuss my proposed alternative route to create a safe and convenient bike connection between the Loop Road project and Mooresville Road project. This redesign assumes the City of Kannapolis and NCDOT cannot connect the two projects using the travel lanes on Dale Earnhardt Blvd.

Since I don’t yet (Portland State University has classes that teach photoshop) have photoshopping skills, imagine what the intersection of Loop Road/Dale Earnhardt Blvd and West C Street/South Walnut Street, which is shown below, would look like with a two-stage left turn box with bike detection. While I would prefer four two-stage left turn boxes be installed at this intersection because there are four possible locations to turn left, two boxes are needed to complete the alternative route that I am designing. One of these boxes needs to be installed for cyclists turning left from Loop Road onto South Walnut Street and the other box needs to be installed for cyclists turning left from South Walnut Street onto Dale Earnhardt Blvd. This redesign, along with the rest of my redesign, should encourage “interested but concerned” cyclists to bike between where the buffered bike lanes end on Loop Road and the wider outside travel lanes for cyclists start on Mooresville Road.

Inspiration for the words “Put a two-stage left turn box with bike detention on it!” in the caption for the below photo came from Complete Blocks. Complete Blocks is a cool project co-founded by Aleksandra Borisenko and Keihly Moore, who graduated from UNC Charlotte and now work for the Lawrence Group. Check out their website to see all the amazing complete block redesigns!

Put a two-stage left turn box on it!

Put a two-stage left turn box with bike detention on it!

The below photo shows two-stage left turn boxes in Portland, OR. A similarly designed two-stage left turn box could be installed in Kannapolis.

Two-stage left turn box in Portland, OR

Two-stage left turn box in Portland, OR

Since most people in Kannapolis probably don’t know how to use a two-stage left turn box, Kannapolis would need to install the below sign to educate people, especially motorists and cyclists, on how to use the two-stage left turn box.

Sign on how to use two-stage left turn box in Portland, OR

Sign on how to use two-stage left turn box in Portland, OR

After turning left onto South Walnut Street, cyclists could bike on Rite Aid’s private road, which is located behind Rite Aid and connects to South Juniper Street. Several cyclists from the Central Carolina Cycling Club told me they already use this route so the City of Kannapolis could work with Rite Aid to make this a public-private sponsored bike route by installing multiple sharrows and Bikes May Use Full Lane signs. These sharrows and Bikes May Use Full Lane signs would direct cyclists where they need to be on the road and inform both cyclists and motorists where to expect cyclists to be biking. Since few automobiles use this route, which I know because I took several photos while standing in the middle of the road, and the automobiles that do use the route are traveling so slow, this route would provide a safe alternative to biking on Dale Earnhardt Blvd.

Put sharrows on it!

Put sharrows and Bikes May Use Full Lane signs on it!

Here is an example of what a sharrow is and what the Bikes May Use Full Lane sign looks like. Notice how the sharrow is properly installed outside the door zone. I see too may sharrows installed in the door zone so it is nice to see a properly installed sharrow.

Sharrow with Bikes May Use Full Lane Sign

Sharrow with Bikes May Use Full Lane Sign

After biking on Rite Aid’s private road, cyclists would turn right onto South Juniper Street then turn left onto Southern Select Community Credit Union’s parking lot. Sharrows and Bikes May Use Full Lane signs can continue to be used. Additional wayfinding may be needed if the sharrows don’t provide enough direction for cyclists to know where to turn.

Leaving Rite Aid and turning right onto Juniper Street

Leaving Rite Aid and turning right onto Juniper Street

Turning left into Southern Select Community Credit Union's parking lot

Turning left into Southern Select Community Credit Union’s parking lot

The alternative route concludes on the other side of Southern Select Community Credit Union’s parking lot, which connects to Watson Crick Drive. Watson Crick Drive changes names to Mooresville Road beyond the below intersection so the alternative route is complete. I am hopeful that the City of Kannapolis and NCDOT can work together to make sure the proposed wider outside travel lanes for cyclists on Mooresville Road will be extended to where Watson Crick Drive intersects Laureate Way.

2014-06-24 19.31.11

Turning right onto Watson Crick Drive, which changes names to Mooresville Road at the intersection

My proposed alternative route, along with suggested redesigns, should encourage “interested but concerned” cyclists to bike between where the buffered bike lanes end on Loop Road and the wider outside travel lanes for cyclists start on Mooresville Road. Whether or not my proposed alternative route is considered by the City of Kannapolis or NCDOT, I am hopeful that the City of Kannapolis and NCDOT can work together to make sure there is a safe and convenient bike connection between the Loop Road project and the Mooresville Road project. How feasible do you think my plan is? Are there areas I can improve my plan?

Since I will be moving from Kannapolis, NC to Silver Spring, MD on Sunday for a transportation planning internship with Toole Design Group, my next post will discuss my expectations for living car-free in the Washington, DC region. Since I have been dependent on an automobile for nearly every trip in Kannapolis and this is my first time moving outside the Charlotte region, I am confident that I will experience challenges. However, I also expect to experience many benefits from living car-free in the Washington, DC region.