Durham was labeled as a bicycle friendly city in 2010, but how friendly is it really? On July 8, a well-known member of the cycling community, Seth Vidal, was killed by a hit-and-run driver, Maceo Kemp Jr., while biking north on Hillandale Road, near Interstate 85. Vidal's family and friends remember him as a brilliant man and an experienced cyclist.
Though the incident is still under investigation, some people believe the narrow road and lack of bicycle lanes contributed to the accident. Hillandale Road merges from five lanes at I-85 into two narrow lanes with no shoulders on either side. "It looks like a little country road in the middle of nowhere, but it's actually a major route between I-85 and Duke hospital," says Jon Davis, a cyclist living in Durham.
The need to improve that part of the road for bicyclists and pedestrians has long been identified, but a project is only now being designed. If approved and budgeted, construction could start in late 2014.
Beyond safety improvements, the Durham community needs to develop a better relationship between drivers and cyclists. "There is some hostility that drivers exhibit towards bicyclists, but at the same time, plenty of bicyclists run red lights," Davis. It's a compromise for a better sharing of the road that can turn Durham into a truly bike-friendly city.
Total reported cyclist crashes in Durham, Jan. 1, 2008–May 31, 2013
Number of crashes during the day
In the evening
Number of crashes resulting in disabling injury
Miles of bike lanes in Durham
Data is for the period of Jan. 1, 2008–May 31, 2013