When “No Outlet”, “Dead End” and “Closed” aren’t really true: How do you sign for bicyclists and pedestrians?

The Washington, DC region is a great region to explore by bicycle. I biked about 400 miles in July and have talked with several people living in the region that also do not own a car. I met many of these people while biking on the wonderful trail systems and Beach Drive through Rock Creek Park. While we found the trail systems and know that Beach Drive is closed only to motor traffic on the weekends and holidays, the signage to reach the trail systems and the closed portions of Beach Drive do not help to inform more people about the trail systems and the closed portions of Beach Drive. Compared to most transportation projects, fixing the signage is cheap and easy. The impact of this easy fix could be tremendous in reducing congestion on area roads and helping to direct people to where they can improve their health. While I would love to take credit for coming up with the title of this post, Eli Glazier, an intern that sits next to me at Toole Design Group, posted the following to Twitter.

No Outlet Sign on Toole Design Group's Twitter

No Outlet Sign on Toole Design Group’s Twitter

Even though there is no outlet for motorists in the above photo, there is an outlet for bicyclists and pedestrians so they can reach Rock Creek Trail, which is 14 miles long. This shows how much people think about motorists and don’t consider bicyclists and pedestrians. I haven’t actually biked on Rock Creek Trail, but the following description, which I found on this site, informs me that the above signage is not the only signage issue with this trail.

“The trail also suffers from an extreme lack of directional signs. In a number of places, it is very difficult to determine the “main” trail route. Expect to take a couple of accidental side trail detours when you first ride this trail.”

I like to approach every issue I see with options for how to resolve the issue so I have researched options for how to resolve the above issue. An “Except Bikes and Pedestrians” sign can be placed below the “No Outlet” sign. The below photo, which I found here, shows an example of how this could look.

Do Not Enter Except Bikes Sign

Except Bikes Sign

The above sign could be used with the below “Dead End Except Bikes” sign to provide even more clarity.

Dead End Except Bikes Sign

Dead End Except Bikes Sign

My coworker’s Twitter post helped me to look for the signage issue in other locations. Unfortunately, I found several other locations where the signage is only for motorists and does not consider bicyclists and pedestrians. The following photo shows a “No Outlet” sign along the access road to the Sligo Creek Trail, which is 10.6 miles long. The reason why I have been including the length of the trails is because I want to inform people how long these trail networks are. They truly are long trails and a missed opportunity if someone cannot find the trail because of poor signage. As the below photo shows, the Sligo Creek Trail is near Arcola Elementary School. While I can hope the people who attend and work at this school use the Sligo Creek Trail to travel to and from school, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them drive an automobile to and from school. If this is the case, I would start a Safe Routes to School program at this school to encourage usage of the Sligo Creek Trail to travel to and from school. I noticed several homes located along the Sligo Creek Trail so there has to be some people who can participate in the Safe Routes to School program at this school.

“No Outlet” sign along access road to Sligo Creek Trail

Since every road that ends at the Sligo Creek Trail in this area has “No Outlet” signs, I would not have known which road to proceed down to access the Sligo Creek Trail if I didn’t have a smart phone with Google Maps to direct me to the correct road. Even though most people today have smart phones, what if I didn’t have a smart phone? Would I still have been bale to find the correct road to access the Sligo Creek Trail? Without good signage, people without smart phones can easy get lost trying to find the entrance to the Sligo Creek Trail.

While the below signage isn’t as big of an issue, I don’t understand why the signage seems to assume that bicyclists and pedestrians know they are allowed to use the Sligo Creek Trail. Since I have found some trails that prohibit bicyclists, I would enjoy seeing signage informing me that I can use the Sligo Creek Trail. Signage needs to be used in both cases and not just when a certain mode of transportation cannot use the trail. The top sign clearly states that “No Motor Vehicles” are allowed on the Sligo Creek Trail. I don’t see any signage to indicate that the Sligo Creek Trail is open to bicyclists and pedestrians.

Entrance to the Sligo Creek Trail

Entrance to the Sligo Creek Trail

The following “No Outlet” signs are located on Willow Lane in Chevy Chase, MD. While there is no outlet for motorists, there is a nice path for bicyclists and pedestrians at the end of Willow Lane that connects Willow Lane to Oakridge Avenue and Leland Street.

Dead End Signs

Dead End Signs

I have used the below path several times as I bike from downtown DC to Silver Spring, MD. This path provides a nice connection between where the Capital Crescent Trail ends in Bethesda, MD and where I connect to Beach Drive in Chevy Chase, MD. Since this path is shown on Google Maps as a bike path, Google Maps directed me to use this path. What if I didn’t have a smart phone to direct me to use this path? More cyclists and pedestrians may use this path if the above “No Outlet” signs and below “Dead End” sign were corrected with “Except Bikes and Pedestrians” signs.

Dead End Sign at Entrance to Path

Dead End Sign at Entrance to Path

Several sections of Beach Drive are closed to motor vehicles within Rock Creek Park on the weekends and holidays. As the below photo shows, it appears these sections of Beach Drive are closed to all modes of transportation. This isn’t true. Since cyclists and pedestrians can use the closed sections of Beach Drive, an “Except Bikes and Pedestrians” sign should be installed to resolve this confusion. By installing this sign, more cyclists and pedestrians should use the closed sections of Beach Drive. I have been riding on the closed sections of Beach Drive every weekend and it is one of the highlights of my weekend.

Beach Drive

Beach Drive “Closed” at DC Line

The below photo shows the opening in one of the closed sections along Beach Drive so bicyclists and pedestrians can access Beach Drive when it is closed to motorists.

Opening in

Opening in “closed” section of Beach Drive

The below photo shows the white sign better so you should be able to read it. wpid-wp-1407126679805.jpeg

Have you seen “No Outlet”, “Dead End” or “Closed” signs where you live? Does the road end at the entrance to a trail or path that bicyclists or pedestrians can use? If so, do the “No Outlet”, “Dead End” or “Closed” signs include “Except Bikes and Pedestrians” signs?

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Doris Day Parking in Kannapolis

What is Doris Day Parking? Start watching this clip at 0:59 to understand what Doris Day Parking is. Almost all, if not all, buildings in Kannapolis have Doris Day automobile parking. Before I start discussing the automobile and bicycle parking situations on the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC), I need to mention that the NCRC is not fully built out yet. However, I feel this is not an excuse for the oversupply of automobile parking on the NCRC. Since there are many Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies that the City of Kannapolis and NCRC can pursue instead of adding more automobile parking, I believe there is already too much automobile parking for the fully built out NCRC. While there are TDM strategies being pursued, I believe the strategies aren’t strong enough. This is evident in how there is an oversupply of automobile parking, especially Doris Day automobile parking. Doris Day automobile parking continues to be built for every single building while only a few bike racks are being built. This is only one example of how weak the TDM strategies are in Kannapolis. My goal with writing this post is to discuss the extreme contrast between the oversupply of Doris Day automobile parking and undersupply of safe and convenient bicycle parking at UNC Chapel Hill’s Building on the NCRC.

I want to fully disclose that I graduated from UNC Charlotte, which competes with UNC Chapel Hill. The reason for writing this post does not involve this competition so please remember this as you read and comment on this post. As the below photo shows, the motorist was able to park only a few feet from the entrance to the building. Since Kannapolis provides so much Doris Day automobile parking, it encourages driving an automobile for every trip.

Doris Day Parking at the UNC Chapel Hill Building on the North Carolina Research Campus

Doris Day automobile parking at the UNC Chapel Hill Building on the North Carolina Research Campus

Here is a closer view of the surface parking area. This is Doris Day Parking because the stairs to the building entrance, which can be seen on the right side of the photo, are only a few feet from the parking spaces so motorists only have to walk a few feet to enter the building. In case you are wondering, it is free to park here. Before the next photo is shown, notice the six story parking deck in the background.

Dorris Day Parking at the UNC Chapel Hill Building on the North Carolina Research Campus

Dorris Day Parking at the UNC Chapel Hill Building on the North Carolina Research Campus

Even though there are six stories, only the bottom two floors were partially used when I took the below photo around noon on a work day. Considering the fact that the NCRC isn’t fully built out yet, do you see the potential for all six floors being full someday?

I would prefer the NCRC pursue a different route. This route could reduce the likelihood of all six floors being used and prevent having the need to build another parking deck or surface lot on the NCRC. In order to achieve this route, the NCRC and City of Kannapolis would have to implement TDM strategies that encourage use of sustainable modes of transportation instead of encouraging the use of the automobile for every trip. Given the fact that Kannapolis is very dependent on the automobile, do you see the potential for Kannapolis to implement strong enough TDM strategies that would encourage enough people to shift from driving their automobile to using a sustainable mode of transportation?

6 story parking deck on the North Carolina Research Campus

6 story parking deck on the North Carolina Research Campus

Not only do motorists have a six story parking deck that is barely used, they also have wayfinding signage to direct them to the parking deck. While this wayfinding signage helps to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) because motorists can more quickly find where to park, there is no wayfinding signage to help bicyclists find where to park their bike.

Wayfinding signage to direct motorist to the parking deck

Wayfinding signage to direct motorists to the parking deck

Since I was determined to find where I was supposed to park my bicycle, which I struggled to park illegally to the sign below, I walked around the entire building. I struggled to park my bicycle because I had to lift it high enough for my U-lock to fit around the sign. While holding my bicycle high enough, I also had to maneuver the U-lock through the front wheel and frame. It took me at least a minute to lock my bicycle!

Location where I parked my bicycle

Location where I parked my bicycle

To my amazement, there was actually some bicycle parking located on the right side of the building and more located on the rear of the building. However, none of the bicycle parking was Dorris Day Parking like it was for automobile parking. I find it ironic that the UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute, which is located inside this building, is researching how to “prevent or treat diseases like obesity, diabetes and cancer.” One simple and inexpensive way to work towards this goal is to install Dorris Day bicycle parking so people can feel encouraged to bike to the building instead of drive an automobile.

Bicycle parking at the UNC Chapel Hill Building on the North Carolina Research Campus

Bicycle parking at the UNC Chapel Hill Building on the North Carolina Research Campus

To make matters worse, the bicycle parking that has been provided is the same poorly designed and installed bicycle parking that was installed at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s NCRC Building. Even though UNC Chapel Hill and/or the NCRC probably received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) points for installing wheel bender bike racks, I cannot safely use the poorly designed wheel bender bike racks. As the below photo shows, the wheel bender bike rack is poorly designed because the person who owns the bike cannot lock the bike rack with the front wheel and frame using a U-lock. Instead, the person is forced to use a wire lock, which can easily be cut.

Unfortunately, the issue goes beyond the infrastructure that is installed. Education is also needed to educate cyclists on how to properly lock their bike. This issue can be seen in how the wire lock in the below photo was only locked to the frame and not to the frame and front wheel. Since the front wheel is quick release, the front wheel can easily be stolen so a U-lock needs to be used to lock the front wheel and frame to the bike rack. The wheel bender bike racks cannot reach the frame so a safer type of bike rack is needed.

Wire lock is only locked to the frame so front wheel, which is quick release, can be stolen

Wire lock is only locked to the frame so front wheel, which is quick release, can be stolen

In addition, the wheel bender bike racks are poorly installed because the side entrance door to the building is locked so visitors have to walk around to the front of the building to enter. The poorly designed and installed bicycle parking does not promote bicycle use to the building. Since there isn’t correctly designed and installed bicycle parking, I am forced to risk getting a ticket for parking my bicycle illegally. I value the safety of my bike more than using an inferior product. Will UNC Chapel Hill or the NCRC install safe bike racks to replace the wheel bender bike racks?

Inconveniently located and poorly designed bicycle parking

Inconveniently located and poorly designed bicycle parking

The below photo shows one potential location for inverted U bike racks to be installed. I chose this location because it provides cyclists with convenient access to the front door, which is open for visitors. Through providing people with convenient bike parking, it encourages them to bike to the building instead of drive an automobile.

Location for Inverted U bike racks

Location for Inverted U Bike Racks (Photoshop: Keihly Moore/Lawrence Group)

One way to encourage people to bike to the building even more is to provide covered bike racks so bikes aren’t exposed to the elements.

Location for Covered Inverted U Bike Racks (Photoshop: Keihly Moore/Lawrence Group)

Location for Covered Inverted U Bike Racks (Photoshop: Keihly Moore/Lawrence Group)

I have discussed the extreme contrast between the oversupply of Doris Day automobile parking and undersupply of safe and convenient bicycle parking. Since I move to Silver Spring, MD on June 29, I only have time to write two more blog posts before I leave. My next post should be about my proposed redesign of a difficult bicycle connection between where the proposed buffered bike lanes on Loop Road end and the proposed bike lanes on Mooresville Road end. Following this post, I plan to discuss my expectations of living car-free in Silver Spring, MD and the Washington, DC region. After I arrive in Silver Spring, MD, I plan to discuss whether or not my expectations came true and what challenges and benefits I am experiencing from living car-free in Silver Spring, MD and the Washington, DC region.

Where Can I Safely Park My Bicycle in Kannapolis?!

Where can I safely park my bicycle in Kannapolis?! I wish the answer was as simple as to a bike rack! Unfortunately, as I find out on a nearly daily basis because I bike in Kannapolis nearly every day, there are very few bike racks in Kannapolis. From what I have observed, I believe these few bike racks, which have all been poorly designed, are almost all located on the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC), which is located in downtown Kannapolis. While I haven’t biked every street in Kannapolis, there are very few other locations in Kannapolis that have installed bike racks. When I have found other bike racks, almost all of them have been poorly designed. Feel free to share with me additional bike parking locations in Kannapolis so I can photograph and discuss them for a future post.

Even though there is an extreme shortage of bike parking, especially bike parking that is designed correctly, there is extremely too much automobile parking! While I will provide a short overview of automobile and bike parking in this post and the other posts included in the series, I plan to devote additional blog series to automobile parking and bike parking at a later date. This later date will most likely be after I leave Kannapolis.

After I finished writing about just one issue I experienced while biking today, I was already up to over 1,200 words. I’m not sure how many words is too long for a blog post. Can anyone experienced with blogging inform me what the accepted maximum word limit is for blog posts? I assume people don’t want to read more than 1,000 words in a single blog post so I will split the issues into several blog posts. I also need to prioritize my statistics and microeconomics homework above blogging so this gives me another reason to split the issues into several blog posts. This post will be devoted to discussing my experience today with bike parking at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College (RCCC)’s NCRC Building. The rest of the blog series will discuss bike parking at UNC Chapel Hill’s NCRC Building and the sharp contrast between the available automobile parking and bike parking on the NCRC.

Without further ado, I will begin to discuss the issues I experienced today at RCCC’s NCRC Building. Since my dad starts work at 8am Monday-Friday and my statistics course starts at 8am Monday-Friday, we truckpool most days. It is nice that his office is located one mile east of the NCRC so dropping me off is on his way to work. On the days that we truckpool, I leave my bike in the back end of his truck and usually meet him for lunch after class to pick up my bike so I can bike throughout Kannapolis to do my errands. We decided to change this plan today, which resulted in the issues that are being described in this post. Instead of keeping my bike in the back end of his truck, I removed it and locked it to the handicapped sign shown below.

Location where I parked my bicycle at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College's NCRC Building

Location where I parked my bicycle at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s NCRC Building

I realize this is not the correct location to park my bike. However, the correct location (not correct design) is shown below. Notice how no bikes are parked here. Either cyclists are parking somewhere else, which is highly unlikely because, according to the US Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey, 0% of workers 16 years or older commute to work by bicycle in Kannapolis, or I am the only cyclist trying to find a safe location to park my bike. This may explain why no one has asked for the safety issue to be resolved.

Even though RCCC and/or the NCRC probably received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) points for installing wheel bender bike racks at this building, I cannot safely use the three installed wheel bender bike racks. The wheel bender bike rack design is unsafe because I cannot lock the bike rack with the front wheel and frame of my bike using my U-lock. Even though a wire lock would lock my front wheel and frame, I will not use a wire lock. This is because wire locks have been proven to be cut easier than U-locks. I value the safety of my bike more than using an inferior product. Will RCCC or the NCRC install safe bike racks to replace the wheel bender bike racks?

Bicycle parking at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College's NCRC Building

Bicycle parking at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s NCRC Building

Before RCCC or the NCRC installs new bike racks, they need to know one of the many safe bike rack designs that exists. As the below photo shows, an inverted U bike rack is a safe bike rack design because cyclists can lock their lock to their bike’s front wheel and frame. As added security, the inverted U bike rack allows for the rear wheel to be locked to the bike rack. I plan to email this blog post to the City of Kannapolis to find out if they can replace the wheel bender bike racks. I will update you on what they say.

Inverted U racks are one type of correctly designed bike racks

Inverted U racks are one type of correctly designed bike racks

You may have seen a note taped to my bike in the first photo. The below photo shows what the note says. In case the photo does not show, the note says, “Bicycles are to be placed in the bike rack at the end of the Parking Lot. Please refrain from using Handicap Parking Signs. NCRC/RCCC Security.” When I asked security about my safety concern with using the bike parking they directed me to, they said the president of RCCC didn’t like the appearance of having a bike parked there so wanted it removed. After I informed security that I couldn’t safely lock my bike to the bike parking they directed me to and needed them to direct me to a safe and convenient location to lock my bike, security kept responding that I had no choice but to lock my bike to the provided bike parking. I wasn’t willing to take this answer, especially since motorists have safe and convenient parking locations, so I kept pushing. They informed me that if I continued to lock my bike to the handicapped sign, someone would give me a ticket. After explaining the safety issue again, they informed me they would try to remember not to give me a ticket and suggested I come to them (hopefully the same security officer will be on duty) if I receive a ticket. Even though I still have concerns with their answers, I didn’t want to risk getting arrested for arguing with a security officer. Why do cyclists have to deal with this much difficulty to just have a safe and convenient location to lock their bike?!

NCRC/RCCC Security placed this note on my bicycle

NCRC/RCCC Security placed this note on my bicycle

As my next blog post will discuss in more detail, this dangerous bike parking design is not limited to RCCC’s NCRC Building. Since it is easy to bike between RCCC’s NCRC Building and UNC Chapel Hill’s NCRC Building, I often bike over to the Lettuce Eat Cafe, which is located inside UNC Chapel Hill’s NCRC Building. My next blog post will discuss the bike parking and possibly automobile parking (if I don’t go over 1,000 words again) issues I experienced at UNC Chapel Hill’s NCRC Building.

Road Diet and Buffered Bike Lanes on Loop Road

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.

2014-05-20 15.49.30

Loop 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.

Planting StripAnother 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.

Intersection of Loop Road and West A Street

Intersection of Loop Road and West A Street

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.

Protected Bike Lanes Increase Bike Traffic

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 Cross SectionLoop Road Buffered Bike Lanes  from West C Street to Biotechnology Lane

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

Loop Road Buffered Bike Lanes from Biotechnology Lane to Main Street

Loop Road Buffered Bike Lanes from Biotechnology Lane to Main Street

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.