Bikes, Pedestrians, and Traffic Barriers on Watts St.

The City of Durham implemented the Shared Streets pilot project last fall, to increase the options for safe travel and exercise in urban areas during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Seven streets throughout the city, including Watts St., were selected for the project.  Temporary signs and partial traffic barriers and signs were placed at several intersections along Watts St. to discourage thru-traffic.  While many cyclists and pedestrians have enjoyed the added sense of safety on Watts St., the pilot project has now ended (as of November 1), and the City has removed the barricades and signs. Going forward, the City is working to ensure that temporary installations like these are properly maintained with the support of neighborhood residents and that “champions” who help maintain them can be compensated for their time and effort. 

Coincidentally, Watts St. and four of the other Shared Streets (sections of Glendale, Spruce, Taylor, and Maple) are also designated as “Neighborhood Bike Routes” (sometimes also called “bike boulevards”) — existing quiet streets that can be prioritized for bicyclists and pedestrians through increased signage to make drivers more aware. The goal of Durham’s Neighborhood Bike Routes program is to create a safer bike and pedestrian network for bicyclists, children, senior citizens, those with disabilities, etc.  The vision is that anyone living in the urban tier should be able to access the network of bike/ped friendly streets within a few blocks of their home. Durham is hoping to create 15 miles of bike boulevards in the coming years.

This past summer, the City invited bids for the construction (signage and painting) of phase 1 of Neighborhood Bike Routes, for a total of 7 miles (out of the desired 15 miles). Construction is likely to begin in Spring 2022. The project is being managed by the City of Durham General Services Department.  Watts St., which was previously striped to allow for bikes to travel southbound on the one-way portion from Trinity Ave. to Lamond, will have additional signage placed on it so that residents know it is part of the larger Neighborhood Bike Routes system. 

While the City has received additional funding from a federal grant program to complete the 15-mile network, planning has not started for the additional miles. If you’d like to voice support for completing the network, reach out to Dale McKeel, dale.mckeel@durhamnc.gov. 

For more info, see https://durhamnc.gov/3763/Neighborhood-Bike-Routes

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