-----Original Message-----

From: Lurie, Nicholas [mailto:lurie@unc.edu]

Sent: Wednesday, November 05, 2003 4:31 PM

To: Town Council

Subject: Bicycle facilities resolution


Dear Mr. Mayor and town council,


I understand you will be considering Council Members Ward and Harrison's revised bicycle facilities policy resolution recently approved by a 7-2 vote by the Bike/Ped board and a 5-0 vote by the transportation advisory board. This new policy provides the town with the flexibility to adapt bicycle facilities to site-specific conditions and makes bike lanes the default option for arterials.


Because I will be in Vancouver at an academic conference, and therefore unable to speak before you on November 10, I wanted to give you a few thoughts about why you should vote in favor of this resolution:


1) Bill Hunter, an expert in bicycle facilities design, has testified that--based on his extensive experience--bike lanes are preferable to wide outside lanes. This is because most (utilitarian) cyclists do not recognize wide outside lanes as bike facilities and do not feel any safer riding on them. He also noted that many cities (e.g., Phoenix) have installed bike lanes without any decrease in safety.

2) Research by the highway safety center at UNC suggests that bike lanes lead to safer behavior than wide outside lanes(less riding on sidewalks, more stopping at stop signs, less entry of passing cars into adjoining or oncoming lanes). An important caveat from this research is that wide outside lanes are safer than narrow (less than 3 foot) bike lanes. This means that bike lanes should not be installed if there is not sufficient space and that wide outside lanes should be used instead.

3) Arguments that bike lanes lead cyclists to ride closer to the curb are totally unsupported by the empirical data; in fact the reverse was found to be true: cyclists ride significantly closer to the curb with wide outside lanes than bike lanes. There is nothing, and should be nothing, that stops a rider from getting out of a bike lane if conditions warrant. I agree with others that additional education is needed to teach less experienced riders how to ride more assertively in traffic.

4) Photos of debris in bike lanes and no debris in wide outside lanes are not a scientifically valid means to demonstrate that bike lanes collect debris. It may simply be that wider roads are more likely to collect debris or that no significant relationship exists. I do agree that the town and DOT should figure out a way to keep the streets and shoulders clear of debris.


Bike lanes that connect important destinations are critical to increasing cycling in Chapel Hill. Many more people would ride if they felt they had a safe way to get to the university and other main destinations. I encourage you to support this resolution and to work hard to install more bicycle friendly facilities such as bike lanes throughout the town.


Nicholas Lurie

Carrboro Rep to Bike/Ped Board



Nicholas Lurie

Assistant Professor of Marketing

Kenan-Flagler Business School

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3490


tel:       919-962-8754

fax:      919-962-7186

email:  lurie@unc.edu