Are Durham roads safe for cyclists?


Thirty-six-year-old Seth Vidal was going north in the 1700 block of Hillandale Road around 9 p.m. Monday evening when he was hit from behind. Friends said the senior software engineer at Red Hat always rode with lights.

Police charged Maceo Kemp Jr., 27, with felony hit-and-run and driving with a revoked license after they say he hit Vidal. Kemp turned himself into police the day after the accident.

Durham has been recognized as a bicycle friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists.

"What that means is that we are making efforts to become a more bicycle friendly community," explained Dale McKeel with the Durham Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission.

But data from the U.S. Department of Transportation shows deaths and injuries to bicycle riders increased from 2010 to 2011.

McKeel said the city wants to implement more bike lanes, encourage more cyclists to hit the roads, and educate drivers on the rights of cyclists - but there are challenges.

"Durham is a community that has grown a lot over the last 50 years or so, and a lot of that growth, that suburban growth, the road improvements, have not followed, so we still have a lot of the old farm to market roads that are pretty narrow," McKeel explained.

McKeel said the more cyclists ride, the safer the roads get - thanks to more awareness. But he said drivers also need to do their part in making sure they share the road.

McKeel explained North Carolina law allows bicyclists to take up an entire lane if conditions warrant - like if the lane is very narrow.

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