While Chapel Hill and Carrboro have some of the highest rates of walking and cycling for transportation in North Carolina and the Southeast, there is still a lot of work to be done to build a continuous network of bike/ped infrastructure that both IS safe and FEELS safe. The recently published final Chapel Hill Bike Plan notes that one of the primary reasons identified by residents for why they do not ride their bike for transportation is safety. (see pages 25-27 for the excellent Level of Traffic Stress Assessment)
With that in mind, it is critical to recognize the outstanding leap forward that the Morgan Creek Greenway project in southern Chapel Hill represents, and the standard it sets for other future off-road and on-road facilities in the area.
Recently we’ve begun taking family bike rides on the Morgan Creek Greenway, and the reasons are numerous:
- It’s safe from cars. The greenway is 10 feet wide and from where we usually begin at a parking lot off of NC 54 to Southern Village, there is not a single roadway to cross thanks to the new Culbreth Rd. underpass. Within Southern Village, the crossings of the streets are on low-speed, 2-lane only roads with limited traffic, 3-way or 4-way stop signs, and pedestrian bulb-outs at the crossing points.
- The scenery is terrific – creeks, bridges, honeysuckle bushes, wildlife.
- It takes you somewhere- we usually integrate dinner in Southern Village into the roundtrip; the picnic tables outside Pazzo are in the shade late in the day.
Here’s a map of the Morgan Creek Greenway, connected to the Fan Branch Trail, via the Culbreth Rd underpass. While the graphic says “trail segment planned for 2014,” I’m sure that will be updated soon – the trail and underpass are completed and open.
While at present, the trail seems to end at a parking lot along NC 54, this project is part of a larger effort to bring the trail all the way to University Lake. Another great benefit of this trail’s current and future alignment is that in addition to the already-served Scroggs Elementary school, there is the potential to also link Culbreth Middle School, Frank Porter Graham Elementary, and Carrboro High School to the same trail. You can take a look at the future potential of this greenway by viewing page 13 of this PDF on the Town of Carrboro website.
By the time the greenway reaches Smith Level Rd, the current project to add bike lanes and sidewalks to Smith Level Rd should be complete to the Morgan Creek Bridge near the Carrboro Public Works facility. This will allow the growing network of on-road bicycle lanes to connect with the off-road network that includes the greenway system.
Everybody who had a hand in making this happen in Chapel Hill should be very proud- it’s a terrific community asset!
Here are a few more photos from various locations along this map.
Thanks for reading!