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City Beautiful 21 » Biking, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Children, Safety, Schools, Uncategorized, Video, Walking » Carrboro Likely To Approve Homestead-Chapel Hill High School Path for Construction

Carrboro Likely To Approve Homestead-Chapel Hill High School Path for Construction

Near the end of their May 10th meeting, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen affirmed their commitment to see the Homestead-Chapel Hill High School Multi-Use Path move forward to construction this summer.

Compromise Recommended by the School System Staff and Town of Carrboro Staff

Early in the meeting, Todd LoFrese of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School System took to the podium to describe a compromise that had been worked out between school staff and Town of Carrboro staff regarding the Multi-Use Path. That compromise took the following form:

  • Reduced the number of Multi-Use Path crossings of the Cross-Country trail from three to one.
  • Proposed looking at alternative surfaces (such as ADA-compliant rubber instead of concrete) at the remaining crossing.
  • Explore creating as much separation as possible where the multi-use path and the cross country trail parallel each other.


staggered-fenceOne citizen brought forward an interesting photo (at right) showing staggered gates on a greenway designed to slow riders approaching a potential conflict point. To address concerns of runners worried about bicycles crossing the cross-country trail at speed, particularly during meets, these may be a potential solution to maximize safety.

Citing not only the financial implications, but also years of participation by many Carrboro residents in the process, and the town’s values in support of providing transportation choices and addressing climate change, the Board of Aldermen asked the town staff to explore how to address some remaining engineering questions about what types of alternative surfaces could be feasible and report back one week later, with an eye towards the Board passing a resolution to move forward affirmatively at their May 17th meeting.

What the Town Residents Will Be Getting From This Project

Lest the big goals of this greenway get lost in all the discussion of process, I want to remind everyone of the big, game-changing amenity the town will get when this project is complete- a safe, low stress way for up to 1,000 children living north of Homestead Rd to walk or bicycle to the three schools south of Homestead Rd.

I went out and shot some video (with audio) on the Morgan Creek Greenway and Fan Branch Trail Greenway in Chapel Hill yesterday. We rode about four miles in all, got pizza and did some grocery shopping, and took in all the great natural enjoyments found along the greenway. We saw squirrels, deer, many kinds of birds, and heard a barred owl calling nearby in the woods in the early evening. In a world where we hear talk of “nature-deficit disorder” among younger generations and childhood obesity, imagine what a joy it would be to get to ride to school on a facility like this every day.

You can hear many of the sounds we heard in the clip below, but you can’t smell the honeysuckle- you’ll need to get out there yourself to enjoy it.

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Filed under: Biking, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Children, Safety, Schools, Uncategorized, Video, Walking · Tags: ,

4 Responses to "Carrboro Likely To Approve Homestead-Chapel Hill High School Path for Construction"

  1. Michael Adamson says:

    Our daughter Catherine rode her bike to school on a similar greenway when we lived in Gothenburg Sweden. As a 5th grader, she could ride about two miles to school, crossing safely over a four-lane highway, riding by a pond with ducks, crossing by an athletic field where soccer matches were in progress, and meeting up with her friends for group rides to school. (Kids younger than 5th grade were not allowed to ride bikes to school because of the lack of velocity perception prior to that age). I would walk over to her school on the same path when I volunteered to help out at the school.

    Catherine could have gone to a school that was much closer. She made the choice of schools based on the existence of a wood/metal working shop that she loved, rather than having to make the choice based on the bus routes. Community paths that tie schools in to surrounding neighborhoods have benefits that ripple through the town and through peoples lives for years to come.

    1. Patrick says:

      Michael- thanks for weighing in. Do you know if that velocity perception rule was local or national at all?

  2. Mary Sonis says:

    I’m sure this Disney-fied version of nature made for a pleasant outing. Unfortunately, this version of nature is user friendly to humans , but not so friendly other living creatures. As we all know from modern Ecology studies, pavement is not environmentally friendly. Amphibians can’t tolerate the overheated water that pours off heated pavement, and the chemicals in asphalt that leach into the ground and waterways, are filled with carcinogenic agents. As a balance to the paved trail at Morgan Creek, consider what the unpaved trail along Bolin Creek has to offer. People often bicycle along this trail, but be warned, there will be dirt caught in your bike tires. We often need to stop at deep puddles along the trail. The puddles are filled with thousands of larval amphibians, including Green frog, Cricket Frog, Chorus frog, American Toad, Spring Peeper, Bullfrog, and Spotted salamander larvae. On warm summer mornings, our official state reptile…the Eastern Box Turtle likes to puddle bathe directly on the trail. Overhead, You can hear and see beautiful Hooded Warblers calling out their territory. The dense riparian understory that surrounds the creek path provides excellent cover and nesting sites for many warbler species. Nature loves diversity, but many people prefer a more homogenized nature experience, and I’m sure the Squirrels were quite charming on your ride. There is no place to stop for pizza along the Carrboro Bolin Creek path, but generally my kids were so busy looking at the amazing wildlife on Bolin Creek, that they weren’t particularly interested in anything beyond what nature was offering on that particular day.In the evening, we would visit the Beaver family, and watch them at work building water purifying wetlands. We walked all day on dirt, and discovered rare species of Salamanders like the Four-toed salamander. Bicycling on a smooth paved road can be a pleasant experience, but there can be other ways to experience the natural world. Not every path needs pavement, and as John Muir once said “of all the paths you take in life, make sure some of them are dirt”

  3. Matt says:

    I had a very similar experience to Michael’s daughter as a high school exchange student in Ulm, Germany. There was a greenway very much like Carrboro’s planned multi-use path between the village where my family lived and the town where the elementary and high schools were. Every single high schooler I met biked to school, including the visiting Americans. There aren’t school buses in Germany. Parents don’t drive their kids to school. There’s no need. Not only was biking to school completely safe, because we were separated from vehicular traffic, it was also the fastest way to get to school. Plus, it was a whole lot of fun! Sure, hard core cyclists will bike if you paint them a sliver on the side of the road. Some hard core mountain bikers will take dirt trails. However, if you want the many benefits to our environment, to public health, and to the sheer enjoyment of daily life that come from getting everyday people out of their cars and onto bikes for normal, everyday commutes, we need exactly the kind of multi-use trails that Carroboro is poised to create.

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