SLOW STREETS IN GREENSBORO: On May 15, 2020, the Greensboro Department of Transportation (GDOT) and BIG installed North Carolina's first Slow Streets (with Department of Transportation approval) in Greensboro. A slow street is a street that has barrels and signage strategically placed to discourage through traffic and encourage slow speeds, raising awareness of the presence of cyclists and pedestrians. Slow Streets provide people with additional space to exercise, which is particularly important right now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The additional space allows people room to social distance and, at the same time, helps relieve our overburdened park system.
BIG began advocating for GDOT to install temporary street improvements to Greensboro streets, such as Slow Streets, towards the beginning of April. Suggestions included both Slow Streets and pop-up protected bike lanes, temporary bike lanes that physically separate vehicles from bicycles using objects such as cones or barrels. The countless emails, virtual meetings, and an opinion editorial paid off.
BIG started working with GDOT towards the beginning of May on implementation of the pilot Slow Streets project. We reached out to neighborhood organizations, assessing interest and educating people on the possibilities. The two neighborhoods that were chosen for the pilot program, Glenwood and Sunset Hills, were enthusiastic about hosting Slow Streets to benefit residents. Unfortunately, the Slow Street in Glenwood has been dismantled because the width of the road and distance between barrels did not sufficiently slow traffic. On the other hand, the Slow Street in Sunset Hills continues to be a tremendous success.
BIG has since taken charge of monitoring the Slow Street project, maintaining communication with GDOT, tightening screws in place to secure signs, and adjusting barrels. We have also made an effort to gather feedback from residents from both neighborhoods and continue to do so within the vicinity of our current Slow Street. Furthermore, we are in communication with other advocacy organizations across the state who are hoping to initiate similar projects for the communities they represent.
For those interested in enjoying our city's Slow Street first hand, the Slow Street in the Sunset Hills neighborhood is located on West Greenway Drive between West Market Street and Walker Avenue. For a map, please see ----> Map of the Greensboro Slow Street
Hopefully projects that slow and reduce vehicular traffic, providing safer places for people to bicycle, will become more common in the years ahead with or without the pandemic. For now, Greensboro's first Slow Street is a great starting point!
NEIGHBORHOOD OUTREACH: BIG continues to reach out to local neighborhood organizations in an effort to introduce our organization. The goal is to increase communication with those directly affected by the design of streets in their vicinity and to teach people bicycling safety. We introduce ways our programs can help neighborhoods advocate for safer streets for cyclists and offer bike rodeos for children and adult safety training at no charge.
To date, we have met with Cottage Grove, Lindley Park, Sunset Hills, Glenwood and College Hill neighborhood associations, and the Patrol Districts One and Three Community Watch group. BIG has since put on bike rodeos for the Glenwood neighborhood, an adult safety education class at the Glenwood library, and plans to put on bike rodeos for both the Cottage Grove and Madison Woods neighborhoods. For the Sunset Hills neighborhood, BIG successfully advocated for a blinking light to be installed on Friendly Avenue and E. and W. Greenway Drives that will be triggered by a button for cyclists and pedestrians. In addition, we helped advocate for a blinking light at Howard and Spring Garden for Lindley Park and digital speed signs in both Sunset Hills and Lindley Park.
Our goal for the year is to introduce BIG to five more neighborhood organizations. Interested in having a BIG representative attend a meeting in your neighborhood? If so, please contact Projects Coordinator Nicole Lindahl ----> email@example.com
SAFE SYSTEMS PROPOSAL: In September of 2019, BIG released a proposal to change the process of street design in Greensboro. BIG continues to advocate for the inclusion of provisions within the proposal as a part of the city's upcoming complete street policy enhancements. The major goals behind the policy proposal are for Greensboro to create a formal process for determining if streets will or will not be designed as complete streets and to increase avenues for public input throughout the street design process. The proposal in it's entirety may be viewed here ----> BIG's Safe Systems Proposal: A Comprehensive Approach to Safe Street Design in Greensboro
Complete Streets are streets designed to be as safe as possible, whether people are riding bikes, walking, operating cars or motorcycles, riding transit, or in emergency vehicles. We need safe networks of streets to travel regardless of our mode of transportation. So it is extremely important that a strong process be in place to determine whether a street should be a complete street, including means for public input throughout the design process.
Vision Zero, a city initiative with the goal of zero traffic related fatalities and serious injuries, was passed in May of 2019. One of the first items the initiative calls for is that Greensboro's Complete Streets policy be updated by May of 2020. BIG wants to see changes that would improve the process of street design included in this update and our Safe Systems proposal details these changes.
Below is a summary of our Safe Systems proposal provisions for inclusion in Vision Zero:
An exemption policy or process for determining if a street will be excluded from being designed as a complete street. We want to see a committee made up of representatives from different city departments formed to vote on exemptions and, if a vote passes, to have city council or the Metropolitan Planning Organization vote on it as well.
The public be regularly informed on street design projects from start to finish, with emphasis on how each project fits into the broader network for all users, and means for public input provided throughout the process.
Current documentation related to transportation to be reviewed for wording that is biased in favor of one form of transportation over another.
ADVOCACY COMMITTEE: BIG holds monthly advocacy meetings that are open to the public in an effort to engage area cyclists in the decision making process. We review what has been accomplished since the last meeting, introduce current projects and issues, and develop strategies for effectively advocating for safer conditions for Greater Greensboro cyclists.
Our goal for the year is to increase the number of active participants from fifteen to thirty. To help all of Greater Greensboro to be bicycling-friendly, we want bicyclists from all local areas on our Advocacy Committee. Wherever live locally, please consider joining. Broad representation and a greater number of participants will increase the influence we have with government officials and elected representatives to bring about positive change. Interested? Please contact Projects Coordinator Nicole Lindahl
for more details and to be added to the Advocacy Committee email list -----> firstname.lastname@example.org
GUILFORD COUNTY CYCLING AMBASSADORS (GCCA): GCCA is an effort to inspire teens with a love for bicycling.
Currently, there is only one active cycling club in the Guilford County Schools system: the Northwest Viking Cycling Club at Northwest Guilford High School. Founded in 2016, the club has weekly rides and engages in community and civic events which encourage cycling and cycling safety in Greensboro. It has proven highly successful, with membership levels growing from 2 in 2016 to 23 in 2020.
The goal of GCCA is to encourage other Guilford County Schools to start cycling clubs using the structure of the Northwest Viking Cycling Club as a template. BIG's role will be to help schools organize and maintain these clubs and to coordinate to provide members with both educational and volunteer opportunities, such as helping put on bike rodeos for children, helping to implement a charity bike ride, and speaking at City Council in favor of improved cycling infrastructure.
Interested in starting a cycling club at a Guilford County school with GCCA assistance? Please email Nicole Lindahl, BIG's Projects Coordinator -----> email@example.com
PARTICIPATION IN CITY INITIATIVES: Municipalities often invite representatives of organizations and the general public to aid them in the planning process when constructing and implementing new policy. This presents an opportunity for BIG to influence public policy in ways that will benefit local cyclists, promote cycling safety, and encourage more people to ride bikes.
BIG currently participates in city initiatives in Greensboro and Summerfield. These include Greensboro's Vision Zero and Greensboro's Safe Routes to School. We also provide feedback and guidance to Summerfield's Trails and Open Space Committee as they create a town master plan for a trails and open space network.