Durham Complete Streets

I subscribe to my neighborhood listserv and saw an announcement about Durham Complete Streets come through my email the other day. I thought it was worth mentioning here because it’s the kind of project that Durham needs, and if the group is successful I think it will make many parts of Durham more livable, especially for people who rely on walking or biking to get around.

On their website, the group describes the concept of “complete streets:”

Complete streets strive to provide safe spaces for all modes of transportation – walking, biking, public transportation, and driving. There is no singular design prescription for Complete Streets; each street is unique and responds to its community context.

Streets that are planned and designed using a Complete Streets approach may include: sidewalks, bicycle facilities (such as protected bike lanes in urban areas), special bus lanes, comfortable and accessible public transportation stops, frequent and safe crossing opportunities, median islands, accessible pedestrian signals and ramps, curb extensions, narrower travel lanes, roundabouts, multimodal bridges, and more.

The organization’s goal is to get the city of Durham to incorporate this approach. You can even sign a petition here asking city government “to prioritize Complete Streets in Durham and ensure they will be implemented via necessary policies, plans, public processes, staff, and funding.”

We’ve lived at four addresses in Durham, three on the north side of the city and our current one here in the Tuscaloosa-Lakewood neighborhood. Where we are now is probably the least walkable in terms of useful things to walk to, but we still have sidewalks on Chapel Hill Road and my wife and I can throw our kids in the wagon and head to the park without having to walk along the shoulder of a busy highway. If there weren’t sidewalks we’d be much more hesitant about walking places with our kids; but if we didn’t own cars we would likely need to walk anyway. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for families, without reliable access to a car, who live near major roads that have no sidewalks or safe places to cross.

Besides making things safer for pedestrians, designating more space for cyclists to travel would be a good thing. There has recently been a minor local conflict over the presence of “ghost bikes,” which are bikes painted white and erected as roadside memorials to cyclists killed in accidents. In addition to honoring those killed in these types of accidents, I think it would be a step in the right direction for everyone if our roads were designed to be safer for cyclists and others so that pedestrian and cyclist fatalities were less likely to happen in the first place.

Ghost Bike Memorial in Durham, NC | mattminordurham.com

We have the luxury of driving everywhere if we choose to, but for a lot of Durhamites car travel isn’t an option. And many people (like me) just enjoy walking and biking more than driving. It’s healthier and more eco-friendly and all that, but it can also just be pleasant. I love our city, and I think anything that makes living here more pleasant (and safer and healthier and greener) for everyone has the potential to be a really good thing.

About the author: My name is Matt Minor and I’m a real estate agent with Hunter Rowe Real Estate in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. I’d love to help you buy or sell a home in the Triangle. Give me a call at 919-450-5999, or email me at matt.minor@hunterrowe.com if you’re thinking about buying or selling a home in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Apex, Carrboro, Clayton, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Mebane, Morrisville, Sanford, Smithfield or Wake Forest.

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