Walkable Retirement Complexes Surrounded By Automobile-Dependent Land Uses

I have been on countless family vacations but my family’s most recent vacation was very unique for one major reason: transportation. From Saturday, December 24 to Friday, December 30, I was a van passenger and stayed with my family in hotels that are located in automobile-dependent areas adjacent to I-495 in Alexandria, VA (suburb of DC), adjacent to I-90 in Erie, PA, and adjacent to I-480 in North Olmsted, OH (suburb of Cleveland). Since my dad values easy interstate access, we have stayed in automobile-dependent areas during most family vacations throughout my life.

As soon as I had the freedom to choose where I wanted to stay, I escaped the suburbs and stayed at an Airbnb in a more walkable and transit-accessible location in Cleveland’s Gordon Square Arts District. I walked and rode transit everywhere until flying back to DC on Sunday, January 1. The below tweet shows the reaction I received from locals after they asked me what I was doing in Cleveland. Since this blog post was getting long, I moved the “Cleveland at Eye Level” section to my next blog post.

Visiting Grandmothers

Since I’m aware that this blog post could be seen as me complaining about not having freedom to explore outside of my family’s van, I want to clarify that my dad mostly chose to stay in automobile-dependent areas because we were visiting my grandmothers in automobile-dependent areas of Erie, PA and Westlake, OH. The retirement complexes where my grandmothers live are walkable only within the confines of their retirement complexes. Both retirement complexes are surrounded by automobile-dependent land uses so my grandmothers can’t safely walk beyond their retirement complexes. As an active transportation planner, this was very depressing to see.

Thankfully, catching up with both of my grandmothers wasn’t depressing. I enjoyed seeing how networked my Erie grandmother is into her retirement community. After eleven years at her retirement community, she literally knows everyone by name and everyone stops to talk with her. I loved seeing and hearing this! I also enjoyed chair yoga with her and my twin sister.

I enjoyed chair #yoga with my grandma and twin sister! #chairyoga

A post shared by Ray Atkinson (@rayplans) on

Since my Ohio grandmother just moved into her retirement complex the day before we arrived, she isn’t networked into her retirement community yet. However, I enjoyed seeing and hearing her take the initiative to meet people in her retirement community. I also enjoyed playing Kings in the Corner with her and my family.

Part 2 of 3 about my family trip can be read in my next blog post.

Shifting from Bicycle Boulevards to Neighborhood Greenways

While the following topic directly relates to my job because I consult for Arlington County, I’m hopeful I have some freedom to be an advocate during my free time. I love being an advocate but also want to keep my job so I’m feeling handcuffed. Even though I’m critiquing my client’s bicycle and pedestrian planning efforts, I’m not critiquing Capital Bikeshare so I assume the following topic is safe to write about.

With my background thoughts out of the way, what do you think of when you read “bicycle boulevard”? Did you only think of cyclists and wonder why I’m asking? Even though you may think only having cyclists prioritized on a slow speed neighborhood street is okay, I’m bothered by this. While Arlington has included several pedestrian projects in its bike boulevard plans, the public likely doesn’t realize that pedestrian projects have been included on a bike-specific project. This concerns me and should concern you!

While I’m not sure what percent of bike and ped projects are included in the overall bike boulevard plan, I assume that bike projects represent the majority of the projects because the title of the plan is bike boulevards. Even though I’m advocating for a shift from bike boulevards to neighborhood greenways, I have no idea whether this change will actually result in more focus discussions about ped projects. Since changing policy could result in focusing more on ped projects, I recommend Arlington adopt the green transportation hierarchy. According to the green transportation hierarchy, pedestrians should be prioritized over cyclists.

green-transportation-triangle

Source: BikePortland

While I’m not trying to insinuate that Arlington isn’t prioritizing pedestrians, I am stating that Arlington should use better language if it wants to prioritize pedestrians and attract pedestrian advocates to join the conversation. As the below video shows, Portland has been shifting from bicycle boulevards to neighborhood greenways. I believe one of the reasons why Portland chose to make this shift is because bicycle boulevards are seen as only for cyclists while neighborhood greenways are seen as multimodal. I hope Arlington will follow Portland’s lead and shift from bicycle boulevards to neighborhood greenways so pedestrians can be prioritized more.

Future Blog Post: Tactical Urbanism in Portland vs. DC

Since Catherine, who I have been dating for almost two months, thinks tactical urbanism events are awesome, I’m trying to find upcoming tactical urbanism events in the DC region. Even though I showed Catherine photos of tactical urbanism events, I feel you have to experience the event in person to fully understand and enjoy it. I’m hoping to take Catherine to a tactical urbanism event on a future date. While Open Streets DC has a website, I’m disappointed to read “One day a year, let’s open up those streets.” Only one day a year! Plus, I couldn’t find any upcoming open street events on the Open Streets DC website so I’m disappointed. I guess Portland spoiled me with five Sunday Parkways (open street events) each year!

Walking, Biking and Riding Transit in Portland, OR vs. Washington, DC

Since my car-free travel behavior has changed dramatically between Portland and DC, I want to compare how my walking, biking, and transit riding habits have changed between living in Portland and now living in the DC region.

Except for the few months in late 2015 and early 2016 where I fully depended on walking and riding transit in Portland because I felt too anxious biking, I mostly walked and biked for all my trips in Portland. I was planning to also mostly walk and bike throughout the DC region because transit is expensive (not as expensive as owning and maintaining a car). While I still walk and bike in the DC region, my boss provided me with a transit card for work trips so I have been riding transit much more than I planned to when I moved here. My boss also provided me with a Capital Bikeshare maintenance key (no time limits like normal keys) for work and personal trips so I haven’t been riding my private bike as often. Since I can’t carry my panniers on Capital Bikeshare, I have been mostly using my private bike for getting groceries and other shopping trips.

Biking in Portland vs. DC region

I don’t live in DC so, while DC has bike racks almost everywhere and the bike racks are usually designed correctly, I have experienced no bike racks or poorly designed bike racks often in Arlington. The below photo shows a ladder or wheel bender rack at a grocery store near my home in Arlington. Thankfully, I don’t have to deal with bike parking issues when parking a Capital Bikeshare bike because I have always found an empty dock.

 

Since I depended so much on the DC region’s great trail systems when I lived in the DC region during summer 2014, I was looking forward to depending on the DC region’s great trail systems again. Even though I rode a road bike last time I lived in the DC region, anxiety from my extreme fear of heights has gotten much worse so I have been struggling to ride on hilly trails like the Custis Trail and trails along steep cliffs like the Four Mile Run Trail. Since I doubt I will conquer my fear of heights soon, I’m planning to buy a $3-4,000 recumbent trike so I can reduce the anxiety I feel when biking on hilly trails and along steep cliffs.

 

While the trails are great for long-distance trips, they don’t go everywhere so I still have to use on-street bike routes. I forgot how bad most of the on-street bike infrastructure is in the DC region. Yes, I know DC has protected bike lanes, which are actually better than any protected bike lanes in Portland. However, protected bike lanes in the DC region are on very few streets so I rarely ride on them.

I’m missing Portland’s neighborhood greenways. I used to live at SE 27th and Salmon, which is on a neighborhood greenway, so I memorized the neighborhood greenways. I rarely had to ride on busy roads outside of downtown Portland because neighborhood greenways went almost everywhere. Thankfully, I have found one element of neighborhood greenways in the DC region. Sharrows are found throughout the DC region. Even though the DC region has installed sharrows, which is a critical and cheap element to Portland’s neighborhood greenways, the DC region has horrible wayfinding for cyclists so the sharrows aren’t part of a neighborhood greenway. Due to this, I feel sharrows are only used in the DC region to communicate to cyclists that the government believes that the street is safe enough for biking and to communicate to motorists that they should expect to see cyclists using the street. Sharrows do much more than this in Portland so I miss biking on Portland’s neighborhood streets.

Before I totally dismiss the DC region’s on-street bike network, I’m excited to share that the DC region has several Level of Traffic Stress (LTS) maps. As all the below maps show, the DC region has plenty of work to do to make their on-street bike network feel more comfortable and less stressful. However, I find these maps much more useful than normal bike maps. This is mostly because a normal bike map shows all bike lanes the same while a LTS map shows bike lanes by how comfortable or stressful they are to ride on.

Arlington County, VA 2017 Bicycle Comfort Level Map (click to download front and back of map)

Montgomery County, MD Bicycle Stress Map (click to view map)

montgomery-county-lts-map

According to a presentation by Stephanie Dock, who works for District DOT, at the Transportation Techies meetup in October 2016, District DOT will be publicly releasing their LTS map soon so I’ll add their map when it’s released.

This blog post is getting long. I try to keep my blog posts under 1,000 words and will go over 1,000 words if I keep writing this blog post. While I still want to compare how my walking and transit riding habits have changed between Portland and DC, I may have to write about them in a new blog post. Readers, do you want me to write about my walking and transit riding habits in this blog post or start a new blog post?

It is not the destination, but the journey.

I’m probably one of the few master’s degree graduates who has been looking forward to using some of my newfound free time to keep writing. Since I didn’t have enough time before fall 2015 term started to finish blogging about my study abroad trip last summer to the Netherlands, I want to keep blogging about this trip. Due to how much interest there is in the United States to learn from the Netherlands, I plan to use specific examples from the United States and the Netherlands to show how the United States can learn from my experiences in the Netherlands.

My graduation cap was inspired by my study abroad trips to Denmark and the Netherlands in 2012 and the Netherlands in 2015. The words, “It is not the destination, but the journey”, were inspired by The Slow Bicycle Movement.

2016-06-11 13.44.05

Ray Atkinson’s 2016 Graduation Cap

As I discussed in my previous blog post and the below video shows, most cyclists in the United States are too concerned about arriving at their destination as fast as possible that they forget about enjoying their journey. My study abroad experiences in Denmark and the Netherlands showed me that most cyclists in these countries enjoy their journey and don’t care too much about arriving at their destination as fast as possible. Through my bicycle advocacy work at UNC Charlotte and Portland State University, I tried to advocate for cyclists to shift from focusing on arriving at their destination as fast as possible to focusing on enjoying their journey. Wherever life takes me after graduation, I plan to continue advocating for this shift and hope to someday see most cyclists in the United States enjoying their journey.

I realize world-class bike infrastructure alone cannot achieve a culture shift in the United States from fast to slow biking so we need local, regional, state, and national comprehensive bike plans. Through my next blog posts, I plan to show how the Netherlands created and has been implementing local, regional, provincial, and national comprehensive bike plans. Since the United States is light years behind the Netherlands when it comes to local, regional, state and national comprehensive bike planning, I also plan to show how the United States can learn from the Netherlands.

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.

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.