Google (trail) Maps

Now that Google’s done mapping and photographing all the important streets in the world, they’re turning their attention to the auto-free zones.

Now Google Maps is expanding to biking and hiking trails. A Google employee on a tricycle rides around to snap the same wide-area views.

“Much of the world is inaccessible to the car,” says Daniel Ratner, a Google senior engineer who designed the trike. “We want to get access to places people find important.” — USA Today

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Google Maps Bike Paths and Hiking Trails, coming soon to a place off the beaten path near you. How long before the Google Tricycle rides the ATT I wonder…

Bicycle movie night, Durham

In preparation for the 2009 Bull Moon Ride, Durham Habitat for Humanity is hosting a potluck dinner and a chance to view a classic cycling film. Roxanne Hall and Peter Anlyan send out this note to the Durham cycling community…

Breaking Away (IMDB page at link)

Oscar winner for Best writing, Best actress and Best director
See this link for Breaking  Away
Presented by Durham Habitat

Wednesday: June 17th 2009
Gathering & Pot Luck: 6:00 pm
Movie: 7:30 pm
Rigsbee Hall
208 Rigsbee Ave. Durham NC 27701

Please spread the word

Habitat Bull Moon Ride
Sat., July 18, 2009
8:31 p.m.
To register and for additional information visit

Read more about the Bull Moon Ride.

Ride for Clive, Saturday, June 6th

from Manky Maxblacks photostream
from Manky Maxblack's photostream

The uncomfortable truth about the everyday meeting place for automobiles and bicycles is that we both share the same width of road, despite a significant discrepancy in power, weight, and protection from the environment. The very same feat of civil engineering that makes road biking so pleasant (smooth pavement) facilitates distracted drivers continuing the culturally acceptable bad habit of driving too fast.

If bike meets car, the bike usually loses.

The Annual Ride of Silence is a memorial event encouraging “cyclists of all abilities and levels of experience” to honor and remember cyclists who have been injured or killed on public roads. In recent years, phenomena called Ghost Bikes have appeared at the site of deadly bike/auto accidents.  “Small and somber memorials for bicyclists who are killed or hit on the street,” Ghost Bikes are like striped bike lanes in that, by serving as a visual reminder of the responsibility to share the road, they create the expectation that bicyclists will be on the road, even if they are not there right now.

This Saturday (June 6th, 2009) in Durham is a free, all-abilities cycling event to promote bicycle safety and remember someone who was the victim of our cultural unwillingness to slow down. The 12-mile Ride for Clive is at once a memorial ride for Clive Sweeney and a celebration of Clive’s life and love of cycling. Whether you knew Clive or not, all are welcome.

Sweeney was killed in an unfortunate meeting of car and bicycle, of inattentive driver and dedicated cyclist. To say he was killed by  “wreckless driving,” as WRAL writes,  is insensitive.  To call it a bike accident is to miss the point. His “bike didn’t kill him,” said one commenter on the durhambikeandped listserv, “Clive was killed by a reckless person driving a weapon.”

clive_bikeThe route for Saturday’s Ride for Clive follows the American Tobacco Trail, the focus of the ride is safety, and the spirit is sure to be positive.

  • 8AM registration
  • 8:30AM safety tips
  • 9AM ride

Before his untimely death, McKinney (advertising firm in Durham) interviewed Clive talking about himself and his passions in life. If you would like to know more, you can watch the video here.

Read more about both the ride and about Clive Sweeney at

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that the good folks at Bull City Cycling are behind this, organizing and planning the ride.

ATT bridge planning meeting, Wednesday Sept 17

A few more meetings, and we should see a bridge.

Tomorrow (Wednesday), September 17, the City of Durham’s Department of Public Works is hosting a drop-in style information meeting on the bicycle and pedestrian bridge that will one day span I-40. Two bridge designs made the penultimate cut, with one emerging the victor. The City wants to explain in this meeting why it’s leaning toward the low-profile arch over the cable-stayed design.

currently favored design

Since no one design ever pleases everyone, expect to hear complaints from some about one or the other. Personally, I think the low-profile arch is beautiful for its simplicity. Reminds me of the Bow Bridge in (NYC’s) Central Park.

All in all, the design phase is moving along well and given that the low profile arch is the less expensive of the two options, hopefully procuring the (already earmarked) funding from the various agencies involved (city, state, and federal) will progress without a hitch.

But who knows, maybe NC DOT will step in, take over, and say we need a 6 lane bike highway.

Design photos snagged from Bull City Rising, Bow Bridge photos from the Library of Congress.

Apex St. bridge coming down, new ATT access ramp going in

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Durham’s tearing down the controversial Apex Street bridge over the American Tobacco Trail, the (existing) pedestrian connection between the St. Theresa neighborhood and Forest Hills.

Beginning September 2, the City is tearing down the bridge, installing a new access ramp, and rerouting ATT traffic for three weeks.

A few years ago, nowhere else in Durham was the difference between which “side of the tracks” you’re on more visually distinct than along the former railroad corridor that divides the St. Theresa neighborhood from Forest Hills. The houses on the east side are no longer fronted with boarded up windows, and the image from the American Tobacco Trail is much improved. The Apex St. bridge, a crumbling bridge that was closed to vehicle traffic over safety, later became the centerpiece of a community debate over access to Forest Hills park. See a clip from Carol Thomson’s documentary project on the American Tobacco Trail, Bridging Rails to Trails (clip embedded below), for more about the story.

If you’re into that kind of thing, you can read Parsons Brinckerhoff’s structural evaluation of the bridge (pdf), indicating some of the reasons that it closed and needs to be renovated or torn down.

Beginning September 2, and lasting for a projected three weeks (so you know it will be longer than that), the City of Durham will be tearing down the Apex St bridge and installing a new ATT access ramp on the east side of the trail. The access ramp on the west side of the trail was installed in 2004 (right? someone else correct me on this).

Bike commuters, listen up — this portion of the American Tobacco Trail will be closed and rerouted by the City for those three weeks.

Durham Detours Portion of American Tobacco Trail for New Ramp Construction

Detour Begins September 2 and Will Last Approximately Three Weeks

Durham, N.C. – The City of Durham’s Department of Public Works is beginning the first step in a new trail connection from the Southside/St. Theresa neighborhood to the American Tobacco Trail.

A new ramp is to be constructed connecting the American Tobacco Trail to Apex Street. The demolition of the Apex Street Bridge is the second component of this project and will take place following completion of the ramp construction.

Due to this planned construction, a detour of the American Tobacco Trail is required between West Enterprise Street and Apex Street and will begin Tuesday, September 2, 2008.  The detour will remain in place for approximately three weeks.  According to the department, this detour is necessary for the relocation of an existing gas line associated with the Apex Street Bridge demolition.

Users of the American Tobacco Trail are asked to note that the trail will not be passable from West Enterprise Street north to Apex Street during this period and they will be required to use the detour.  Signage providing directions to the detour will be posted on the trail.

This closure is the first of two scheduled closures of the American Tobacco Trail in this area.  The second closure will be for the actual demolition of the Apex Street Bridge.  Details regarding this second closure will be provided at a later date.

For additional information regarding this project, including a map of this scheduled detour, visit the City’s Web site at or contact Kyle Butler, civil engineer with the City’s Department of Public Works, at (919) 560-4326, extension 245 or via e-mail at

from Bridging Rails to Trails, Carol Thomson

ATT bridge over I-40

The design firm hired by the City of Durham to design a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over I-40 is hosting their second public meeting.

Even though the bridge over I-40 is approximately only 200 linear feet of the overall four miles being added to the American Tobacco Trail in Phase E, the bridge is the reason so many folks turned out to the first Public Meeting; Bridge Project. Sponsored by the City and Steven Grover and Associates, the architecture and engineering firm contracted to design the bridge, the meeting in November was standing room only.

Hello Friends of the American Tobacco Trail,

Mark your calendars!  The second Community Meeting about the planned pedestrian and bicycle bridge crossing of I-40 for the American Tobacco Trail (ATT) will be at 7PM on Tuesday, April 29, 2008.  This time the meeting will be held in the larger city council chambers on the first floor of Durham City Hall (101 City Hall Plaza) in downtown Durham.

This meeting, which will be hosted by the City of Durham Department of Public Works (and facilitated by Steven Grover and Associates) will focus on a selection of bridge concepts and designs for this long anticipated bicycle and pedestrian bridge.

This is your opportunity to get information -and more importantly – offer feedback, suggestions, thoughts, concerns, ideas, needs, goals, desires and other input to help make this bridge and connecting trail, the absolute best it can be.

We hope we’ll have another standing room only crowd at this meeting as it sends a clear signal to elected officials, NCDOT, the media and the public at large that there is significant demand for this project and for it to be completed as soon as possible.

Please share this information with everyone you know who is interested in the ATT and in improved pedestrian and bicycle access in the region.

Should you have any questions or input regarding this meeting, please contact Byron Brady, PD CPESC, Contract Engineer, City of Durham at 919 560-4326 x 296 or byron.brady AT .

If you have any questions regarding this message, or want to chat about the trail or bridge, or don’t know who to ask or talk to about your ideas or concerns, please feel free to contact Bill Bussey Triangle Rails-to-Trails Conservancy 919 545-9104 americantobaccotrail AT or me at 919 286 3827 daclever AT

For more information on the American Tobacco Trail please see our website at .  I will send directions to city hall closer to the meeting date.

See you there!

Dan Clever
Triangle Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
919 286-3827

Bill Bussey
Triangle Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
919 545-9104

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Will there be a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over I-40?

Construction dates for the American Tobacco Trail bridge over I-40 and the new pedestrian bridge over 147 are indexical: no matter when you ask, the answer is always “they should be completed in about 2 years.” As a member of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission for the past 4 years, “When will the ATT bridge be built?” is the single question we are asked by the public most often.

A few local bloggers got together near the end of summer to create a questionnaire for the candidates in this round of municipal elections. A great idea, our list really gathered together some tough questions — the answers to which would have given the public some insight into what the candidates have in mind for some of the more pressing (and consistent) problems in Durham. Too bad not a single candidate responded with answers. My question (one of two that I asked) continued…

Can we get a straight (i.e., non-indexical) answer on when 1) the American Tobacco Trail/I-40 bridge and 2) the new pedestrian bridge over 147 will be built? What will you do to ensure that these two important projects are completed on the current schedule?

The election hopefuls may not have bothered to answer, but the City of Durham is hosting a community meeting to discuss the planned pedestrian crossing of I-40 for the American Tobacco Trail near Fayetteville Road.

  • Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2007
  • Time: 7:00 PM
  • Place: Durham City Hall, 2nd Floor Committee Room

The contact for the meeting is Byron Brady, PE, CPESC, a Contract Engineer with the City
(919) 560-4326 ext. 296


If you want to have any input on the kind of bridge that will connect the existing ATT with its future continuation at Southpoint, then you’ll want to be at this meeting.

No word, though, on the new pedestrian bridge over 147 which, last I heard, could have opened by now.

Thanks to Dan Clever for the heads up on this meeting.