Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rural Sidewalks

A young woman rode her bike down her long driveway and across the street to get her mail out of the mailbox when a car going way too fast on this flat country road straight-away hit her. Reports say she flew 20 feet. The driver never saw her.

I learned of these unfortunate incidents in Hollister through a conversation with a gentleman whose mother’s house lies on that very road. He explained to me that another kid had been killed in a one-car accident on the same stretch of road – was driving too fast and lost control. The road is flat and straight here, and many logging trucks will use it as a short cut to Hwy 43. That same day, I saw two kids three different times in the day walking this mile-plus stretch of road to the county line, dribbling a basketball in the middle of the road. It is not a busy road.

A couple months later, I was an effort here in Carrboro to garner support to make Estes Drive safer for pedestrians and bikers. The road in question has a sign at the railroad track welcoming traffic the Town of Carrboro – ‘Bicycle friendly.’ I can attest that the fast-moving vehicles cause an unsettling feeling when walking just a 50-foot stretch of this road.

The town would need several million dollars to accommodate the widening that bike lanes and sidewalks would require, let alone widening for increased vehicular traffic demand on this arterial connector between Chapel Hill and Carrboro. NC DOT could accommodate funding such a project, but not for several years. Feeling among town leadership is that town residents would not support funding a bond to do the work on an expedited timeframe despite the groundswell of attention to the issue.

I do not know the number of injuries or fatalities on Estes. One night upon leaving my friend’s house near Estes, we were unsettled by the police and emergency vehicles having closed the road to one lane of traffic. When we get through, we both rubberneck to appease the curiosity as to what happened. We see a car, unscathed, pulled onto the grass shoulder of the road. And we see a bicycle.

These two communities are quite distinct from each other, yet have a similar need. Obviously, drivers already do not pay attention to the speed limits established. The urban setting of Carrboro is more likely to get more attention, more political will, to make changes to the various transportation needs. The situation in Hollister is both dampened and amplified by its setting where the community is smaller, rural, and reliant on motorized vehicles, but where each life has a greater impact.

1 comment:

vanessa said...

I'd support a bond to pave that stretch of Estes. Great reflections!