Update: Read the NEXT petition to the Transportation and Connectivity Board.

What is this?

A proposal to extend the Libba Cotten Bikeway, the bike trail that goes between downtown Carrboro and W. Cameron Avenue, by creating a protected, on-street, two-way path to UNC’s campus.

The Chapel Hill Town Council is considering this project in the next few months, and it could be built by the summer of 2023. The members of NEXT, a local advocacy organization that supports affordable housing, transportation alternatives, and economic development, have made this web page to provide information about and build support for an extension of the Libba Cotten Bikeway to campus.

Where would this be?

The path would run along Cameron Avenue, starting where the current bikeway meets South Merritt Mill Road and continuing on to South Columbia Street.

What could it look like?

No final design has been determined, but here is a design recommendation from Chapel Hill’s 2014 bike plan. An extension of Libba Cotten could be on the north or south side of Cameron. With the council’s support, the town’s transportation planners and engineers will come up with a more detailed design for review.

Why build this?

Here’s what Cameron Ave. looked like before the OWASA construction started.

At present, Cameron Avenue has two one-way bike lanes. People who bike, walk, or roll on these bike lanes are not protected from cars, making them unsafe, particularly for people who are young, old, have disabilities, or just feel uncomfortable being next to large trucks and a lot of traffic.

A protected bikeway is just that—protected. There is a physical barrier, like flower planters or a concrete curb, separating users from automobiles. And, with a bike path, you have even extra space between you and cars, which means more people feel safe using it. (For more on the benefits of protected bike lanes, watch this video).

Why now?

For the past year, OWASA (Orange Water And Sewer Authority) has been replacing pipes along Cameron Avenue. The street will be repaved in the summer of 2023. This fall, the Town of Chapel Hill is deciding whether to support changes to the street, including the addition of a protected on-street bike path. Chapel Hill repaves its roads every 10 years, so whatever decision the town makes now will be in effect until 2033. If we don’t act now, we will not be able to build this project for another decade.

How will this change biking in Chapel Hill?

A protected bikeway in San Luis Obispo, California.

Imagine being able to bike, roll, or walk down Cameron without having to worry about being hit by a car. You can bike with your kids, your parents, or your friends, and feel just as safe as you currently do on the Libba Cotten Bikeway. While this is a small project, it could transform how we get around in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Combined with other already planned improvements, like the extension of the Morgan Creek Greenway in Carrboro and Chapel Hill, thousands of people will have safer routes to campus as well as homes and businesses in both communities.

Could this really happen?

Yes! In 2020, the Town of Chapel Hill released an update to its Mobility and Connectivity Plan, which included support for a protected, two-way, on-street bike path on Cameron. This year’s budget includes money reserved for improvements to bicycle facilities throughout town. Cameron Avenue is the most heavily used bike route in Chapel Hill, and is overdue for improvements. We would also build on our existing bike network, giving thousands of Chapel Hill and Carrboro residents a safe route to travel between our communities.

How can I get involved?

First, you can email the town council to let them know about your support for extending the bikeway.

Next, you can encourage a friend, or many friends, to do the same by sharing this page with them.

You can also volunteer to help support this project. Tell a friend! Share on social media. Talk to others about this project.

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