We are parents, kids, UNC students, UNC faculty, UNC staff, Carrboro residents, Chapel Hill residents, and people who work in Carrboro and Chapel Hill, and we are PSYCHED for a Bolin Creek Greenway. 

The proposed greenway, which you can see below in YELLOW (in Carrboro) and ORANGE (in Chapel Hill), will help people from all across Carrboro and Chapel Hill travel on safe, protected, accessible paths.

This is what the connected Bolin Creek Greenway will look like, in pipe cleaners, when it’s done.

We are so jazzed about the greenway, and the potential to get places on foot and by bike, that we asked our friends and neighbors what excites them about building out our towns’ greenway network.

Sign up for the Carrboro Linear Parks Project mailing list to get updates on building out Carrboro’s greenway network. Visit the Carrboro Linear Parks Project website for more information. There’s also a helpful FAQ with answers to many questions.

Update: We support the creekside alignment for the reasons detailed here.

Here are 76 reasons we’re all excited about the Bolin Creek Greenway:

It would help protect Bolin Creek

  • It protects the creek to have a well-defined trail where people walk, and will help eliminate the trail braiding we currently see
  • This is one of the key benefits to constructing the Bolin Creek Greenway in Carrboro: providing a defined paved surface along the heavily used easement will open up possibilities to reclaim and restore natural areas around the creek as part of the same project. These strategies are clearly outlined in the town’s 2009 Bolin Creek Greenway Concept Master Plan. In some areas, like where I was on my walk, the plan recommends a raised boardwalk or moving the trail further upland so that the damaged area near the creek can be regenerated.
  • The easement that was designed and installed in 1965 was meant to harbor a large pipe that moves poop – it was not designed to be the incredibly popular recreational trail that it has become in the last several decades, and there are some destructive consequences that result from that. Rain or not, inevitably trail users continue to show up in poor conditions and walk around the mud they encounter. This intrusive human activity creates informal or “braided” trails along an ever-widening network of mud puddles. The footpaths we create to keep our shoes from getting muddy have been expanding into the forest and up to the creek’s edge, which degrades vegetative buffers and increases runoff into the stream.
  • The existing sewer easement along the creek means a path can be designed with a minimum of tree clearing, while the erosion that pedestrian and vehicle traffic are already causing can be improved through bank restoration and keeping pedestrians in designated areas. And luckily, Chapel Hill has already provided us with the opportunity to study potential effects on wildlife and streamflow data— we know that wildlife and streamflow data have been unaffected by a greenway on the very same creek. 
  • Can safely walk on the path even in the winter shortly after it rains without worrying that we’re destroying the ground cover
  • People walk or ride around spots where there are puddles and ponding and continually widen the trail
  • This mud and water currently erodes straight into the creek itself; engineers would construct the greenway to prevent this.
Runoff is not slowed down on the impacted easement, causing erosion in the creek bank
Runoff is not slowed down on the impacted easement, causing erosion in the creek bank
  • In many places, there is no vegetative buffer between the area that is heavily used and the creek itself, primarily due to extensive trail braiding, so runoff flows unfiltered into the creek.
  • We could MAINTAIN the corridor and make sure that it remains a vibrant, healthy landscape
  • We could preserve an important wildlife corridor (again, by keeping people on a confined trail)
  • We could do creek restoration at the same time, as has been done in many other places.
  • Stormwater and drainage would be managed along the easement – greenways can act as stormwater management tools, as they do in many other places
  • Human activity would be managed- i.e. we would keep people to the 10 or 12′ trail, as opposed to them currently widening the trail even beyond 30′ that is cleared for Owasa.
  • The vegetative buffer could be reconstructed and could actually filter runoff (from all of the houses/development/roads that already exist along the creek)

It would help our kids get to school safely (and stop all of the cars idling), making our school transportation network more resilient.

  • There will be so many more kids who can walk or bike to school that we won’t have to worry about whether we have enough bus drivers. 
Homestead-Chapel Hill High School Multi-Use Path (aka Bolin Creek Phase 1B)
Kids in Northern Carrboro can use the second stage of the greenway to get to school. We want everyone else to have access, too!
  • With a safe, protected bike and walk route through the greenway, there would be many, many fewer cars idling at pickup at all of the middle schools.
  • The greenway would reduce the size and impact of school drop off and pick up for Seawell/Smith/CHHS
  • My kids will be able to bike safely to middle and high school. I would NEVER let them bike on Estes or Sewell School Road.
  • The current Owasa easement/potential greenway alignment is only used by a small number of kids to get to school – kids whose parents can afford mountain bikes mainly. (I know most of them and can list them on one hand)
  • Will likely remove a number of vehicle trips on Sewell + Homestead which are big fast busy roads with no dedicated bike paths or even sidewalks  

It will help us move our bodies and get into nature

  • More opportunities for more people to use the trail when it’s paved which can increase the overall health of a population
  • Some days all I want to do is act like I’m Peter Fonda in Easy Rider, but on an old 10-speed I got for $75 instead of a motorcycle 
  • Help shift some car trips to bike or walk trips
  • Because walking is good for you. Really, really good for you.
  • Getting pizza by bike or foot just feels healthier!
  • Would be another reason to get an ebike
  • Did I mention the greenhouse gas reduction from less driving? (Changing a community’s behavior over time is possible – a decade after its built, Carrboro will move differently!)

It would help us take short trips via walking or bike, instead of hopping in the car

  • So I can go on bike rides with my friends and family who don’t feel safe biking on roads with cars
We don’t have a safe nearby greenway to bike to, so we loaded up the car to go to Cary.
  • It will actually help drivers because people who bike/walk instead of driving will reduce cars on the road. It’s a win-win.
  • Will enable the linkages of many parks (Wilson, MLK, Twin Creek, and other smaller playgrounds) and encourage people to venture further to parks they may not otherwise visit
  • E-bike ownership would be even more attractive, taking more cars off the road.
  • The trail runs directly below the current police dept and future municipal services center. fully built out it would allow more people without cars to access the services therein
  • Residents of public housing on Oak Ave in Carrboro could bike to work at jobs along MLK or at University Place
  • Is another step in the master plan to have an excellent connected, most protected transportation link from north to south
  • Would be another step in a greenway system that will eventually enable safe bicycle access to all part so if the community
  • Improved access to alternative modes of transport (bus lines, scooter rentals? Car share location?)

It would help us get to school and work in safe ways, and reduce the need for parking

  • Many people who live across Chapel Hill would be able to bike to UNC through protected bike paths and then the Libba Cotten Bikeway. The Morgan Creek Greenway will extend this further.
  • Every neighborhood along Greensboro and Estes in Carrboro would have a safe route to get to Chapel Hill and vice-versa.
  • Less space needed for car parking downtown. Could rewild / depave lots, or add housing/ mixed use
  • Completing the Bolin Creek Greenway means people in Carrboro could bike directly to a North-South BRT stop at MLK, put their bikes on the bus, and take them to ride on the Morgan Creek and Fan Branch trails!
  • This will be the most economical and safest path from north to south when walking or biking – and it will increase the safety of these people as it’s completely removed from vehicles in this location
  • So I can bike to Aldi and not get hit by a car speeding on Estes extension
  • International visitors to UNC will have more options when looking for a place to live. 

It would increase access to our beautiful natural areas

This is Cary.
  • We could provide an ADA-compliant surface that everyone could access so all residents can enjoy this green space.
  • Some Carrboro residents know this “trail” exists and use it regularly, but many people in Carrboro are unaware that the space exists, and without maps and wayfinding may never take advantage of this public space.
  • Because people who use wheelchairs and motorized scooters like to go outside too. 
  • It currently becomes almost impossible to travel on after heavy rain, especially for people who use mobility assistance like strollers or wheelchairs or canes.
  • The surface of the easement is unwelcoming and difficult to travel on, so many people are shut out of this public space.
  • My father-in-law, who has difficulty walking, would be able to walk safely along the creek.
  • I would be able to take my stroller along the creek. Right now, I can’t walk along the creek with my toddler and baby, because the stroller gets stuck in the mud.
  • People in rolling wheelchairs deserve the opportunity to get around town and get into nature, which helps physical and mental health.
  • Everyone would have easy access to one of Chapel Hill’s treasures—UNC’s Carolina North Forest
  • People who do not feel welcome on Bolin Creek because it doesn’t appear to be public right now will know its an official town facility, one that appears on maps with designated public access points. Bolin Creek should be available for everyone to enjoy as a public amenity. 
  • The proposed path is relatively flat – which will enable even causal bikers or commuters to use it to get from the north to the south of Carrboro
  • More residents of the Town could take advantage of this public amenity.
  • We could create maps and wayfinding and let people know that the greenway exists
  • We could include interpretive signage along the trail to educate the public and build buy-in on conservation efforts around Carolina North Forest

It would be great for our towns’ economic development 

  • People from Cary, which has 80 miles of greenways, won’t make fun of us. (More seriously, greenways have been proven to inject dollars into communities, both from people visiting and from businesses that can cater to people along the greenways.)
  • Because I’ll be able to go to the Carrboro and Chapel Hill Farmers Markets without driving.
  • So we can go out for drinks in Carrboro and Chapel Hill and be certain that we’ll get home safely.

It would help our kids grow more independent 

  • Kids could go over to a friend’s house—even if it’s in a different neighborhood—by themselves.
  • More independence for children and teens, allowing them to get places without relying on the mommy or daddy taxi
  • kids who ride to school can learn to safely travel independently of their family
  • kids who ride to school can get much-needed physical activity on their way to school
  • kids who live near the greenway would be less reliant on bus and car travel to school
  • So we can get to the Rainbow Soccer Fields without driving. (Just look at all those cars!)

It would give us new ways to build community

  • We’d be able to have an annual 5K on the Bolin Creek Greenway (strollers welcome!)
  • Carrboro is missing an opportunity to create a network of connected trails. the Bolin Creek Greenway is, along with the Morgan Creek Greenway, a key spine in the entire town-wide network.Potential positive outcomes of a greenway
  • We could connect Carrboro’s trails from North to South, and reduce the need for car travel.
  • We could connect Carrboro to Chapel Hill and beyond via safe, accessible off-road trails
  • A library-to-library bike ride would be possible.
  • We’ll have twice as much of Bolin Creek to explore.
  • Instead of lollipop neighborhoods (one way in, one way out), we’ll have neighborhoods that are connected by a greenway.
  • Connects to north part of Carrboro with the south – enabling more chances for social mixing and building of community
  • The Town of Carrboro can offer important and much-needed social, public space
  • So I can show visitors this awesome railroad bridge:
awesome railroad bridge
  • Because more people can visit one of Carrboro’s spookiest attractions, an abandoned car from the 1950s.
spooky abandoned car in Carrboro
spooky abandoned car

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Melody Kramer is a Peabody-award winning journalist whose work has appeared on NPR and member stations around the country, as well as in publications ranging from National Geographic to Esquire Magazine....