We are reprinting select articles from Carolina Angles, which is brought to you by the Carolina Planning Journal based out of the Department of City and Regional Planning at UNC Chapel Hill. The blog publishes outstanding academic, critical, and creative work by students, practitioners, and academics with the mission of providing a platform for conversation in the planning field. This piece was originally published in March 2021.

By Eli Powell

In May 2020, my supervisors on the Transportation Planning Team at the Town of Chapel Hill approached me about updating their bicycle parking inventory. It had not been touched since 2011 and the Planning Department wanted more current bicycle parking data in order to more thoroughly analyze how well developers were adhering to bicycle parking capacity requirements and design guidelines outlined in the Town’s Land Use Management Ordinance. I offered them one better: I wanted to create an interactive, Town-wide inventory of not only bicycle parking units (bike racks, bike lockers, etc.), but also bicycle maintenance units such as fix-it stations and air pumps, so cyclists who live, work, and play in Chapel Hill could more easily locate bicycle parking at their destinations.

Eight months of fieldwork later, I present the result: the Chapel Hill Inventory of Resources for Bicycles (CHIRB)!

Screenshot of the interactive map

To create this map, I personally scoured every reachable, public area within the Town of Chapel Hill’s limits for bicycle parking and maintenance units. I took a picture of every such unit and recorded the following attributes:

  • Type of resource: Is the unit a bike rack? Bike locker? Fix-it station? Air pump?
  • Type of parking: If this is a bike rack, what shape of bike rack is it? Grid? Wave? Inverted U?
  • Capacity
  • Condition
  • Lighting?: Is the unit located near a light? I was unable to return to the units at night to verify whether the lights worked, but the assumption was that most or all of them do.
  • Weather protection?: Would the unit stay dry during a rainstorm?
  • Accessibility: How many public building/street entrances are within 200 feet walking distance of the unit? Generalized on a scale from “Low” to “Super high”.
  • Visibility: From how many windows is the unit clearly visible? I defined “clear visibility” as that to the extent at which someone watching from the window would be able to identify someone stealing a bicycle from the unit, so some estimation was required. Generalized on a scale from “Low” to “Super high”.
  • Land use type
  • Distance to nearest bus stop: Measured by routing along the Town’s sidewalk network so the output was walking distance, not distance as the crow flies.

As of this writing, a few developments are missing from the inventory because they were unreachable while I was completing my fieldwork. Most notably, Chapel Hill High School was being renovated and the new Wegman’s was still under construction. I plan on adding these to the inventory in the near future!

My hope is that this interactive inventory will foster a more bicycle-friendly environment for the Town of Chapel Hill. Happy biking!

Find the map here: https://arcg.is/1WCKCe

Featured image courtesy of the Town of Chapel Hill

Eli is a second-year master’s student specializing in transportation at the Department of City and Regional Planning. Prior to arriving at Carolina Planning, he earned a B.A. in Geography with minors in Urban Studies and GIS from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. His professional interests include non-automotive transportation, traffic modeling, and planning for environmental protection. When he’s not planning, he can be found running, listening to indie music, or watching anything that could possibly be considered a sport.

This work is distributed under a creative commons license, and no changes have been made.

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