Why Do Businesses Turn Their Backs on Bike Paths?

Snow blankets our streets and sidewalks and covers the ugly. For a brief period of time there is a quiet beauty in cities and towns. Snow also acts as an important indicator of usage, if we choose to pay attention and use this information to improve our infrastructure. On streets, the snow reveals how narrow a lane can be, and how slip lanes (a bane of pedestrians) are unnecessary and can prototype, to transportation planners, where they can be easily eliminated.

I am using the snow to reveal how a heavily used a near by corridor is, and, hopefully, to convince planners and property owners how valuable a resource it is, and how it is being wasted and ignored.

My case in point. 300 E. Main st in Carrboro. This complex houses several businesses: A popular coffee shop, a running store, a bank, a donut shop, a brewery , a performance hall and art education center, a restaurant. Right behind this sprawling complex, there is a bikeway, called the “Libba Cotten Bikeway”. It is heavily used by people heading back and forth to the near by UNC campus and homes and apartments. For people not driving a car, it is the best way into town. Like any busy street, it is a valuable transportation resource to aide people to get to businesses. However, the owners of 300 E. Main have all but turned their backs on this path. There is a single, muddy and narrow connection that is constantly overrun by the adjacent restaurant. How can this be? Why hasn't the town worked to maintain and enhance connectivity to this path? How can the property owner, and their tenants afford to ignore this passage? Let me share some photos I recently took.

The weekend of December 8 – 9, we were blanketed by snow. As is usual in the south, many roads were closed, and the public were encouraged not to drive lest they get stuck and interfere with snow clearing operations and emergency vehicles. Streets and sidewalks were largely impassable. Naturally, I decided to take a run to my favorite brewpub, as it WAS open. My path of choice was Libba Cotten. The next two photos are taken from the path. The first, is right behind 300 E main, by the improvised path that leads to the property. The second is from a section about 100 yards east. These were taken at 3PM on Sunday, during the peak of the storm. The weather was miserable, the snow had changed to sleet, and the conditions were terrible. However, look at the footprints. There is a well worn central line past the property, and further down, you can see 100's more footprints. I suggest that even in bad weather, the numbers that choose this path are hard to ignore. Imagine how many use it on a nice day?

Where is the commitment to non car transportation? There are limited parking spots in this property, and a large number of people living near by who clearly would rather not drive. How can the owner of this property not see this? If Main street were blocked in the same away as this bikeway, the owner and all of the businesses would be anxiously petitioning the town to take action. Why are these businesses turning their backs on an important connection to their locations?









I could not locate the photos.


The photos, though small, are now included.

This seems like a good question to ask the propety owner and/or the town of Carrboro. Also, if the rest of the property is ever developed, it seems like one should press for the inclusion of a spur trail. 


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