DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Ever since he was a young kid growing up in Milwaukee, John Tallmadge has chosen an alternative to commuting by car.
“Whenever I can, I’m getting there by bike,” Tallmadge said.
Now a leader of the nonprofit Bike Durham, he wants others to join him without having to fear for their safety on city streets.
Last week, the Durham City Council voted to add more bike lane protection on local roads.
“It’s not until you create these protected areas that are separated from the travel lanes when you’ll get people of all ages and various abilities out biking,” Tallmadge said. “That’s the direction we want to go.”
The nearly $200,000 project is funded mostly by federal dollars. It’ll add flexible posts to existing buffers between vehicle and bike lanes. They’ll pop up on long stretches of South Roxboro Street and Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard.
“Those can be fine where the traffic speeds are maybe 35 miles an hour,” Tallmadge said. “As the traffic gets up higher than that, you need more protection.”
Tyler Kober, the owner of Bullseye Bicycle, said there are concerns about recent injuries on city roads.
Though it happened in Orange County, Durham’s budget director was killed on his bicycle just last month.
“The more people hear that, the more people are scared to be out on the streets on their bikes,” Kober said.
Durham’s transportation department expects construction to start in spring 2024 with completion later that summer.
“[It’s] hopefully a sign of bigger things to come, having an actual separated roadway for cyclists,” Kober said.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation recommends that bicycle infrastructure includes “physical separation from vehicle lanes when traffic volumes and speeds reach levels that make bicycling in the adjacent lane unsafe and uncomfortable.”
“Before we can begin construction, we need to complete design work and obtain permit approvals from NCDOT,” Durham Assistant Director of Transportation Bill Judge said.