Two students at Durham's School for Creative Studies try out for the new cycling team.
School for Creative Studies

If you’re a student in a North Carolina public school with aspirations of becoming a pro cyclist, you might not have much of an opportunity to develop your bike skills on a school sports team. That is, unless you attend the School for Creative Studies (SCS), a new public magnet school in Durham. The school began tryouts this week for a new competitive cycling club registered with USA Cycling, the cycling body responsible for training and sending American athletes to the Olympics and the Tour de France.  It’s the first school in North Carolina to start a USA Cycling-registered team.

“Competitive cycling is exploding in the U.S.,” says SCS Assistant Principal and cycling coach Andrea Hundredmark. “Being involved with an officially-sponsored team will allow School for Creative Studies students to advance in national rankings, and perhaps even compete internationally.”

The school, which opened in July, currently has 260 students enrolled in the sixth, seventh and ninth grades. They plan to add grades each year and eventually be open to sixth through 12th graders.  Because they are a magnet school, they don’t have a competitive athletics program.

Bike racers in an Ironman 70.3 Triathlon event held earlier this year in Melbourne.
Ironman 70.3

Thousands of people are expected to line the streets of Raleigh on Sunday for the state's first-ever officially sanctioned Ironman 70.3. It's half the distance of the traditional Ironman. Heat may be a factor as more than 2,700 athletes begin the race with a 1.2 mile swim in Jordan Lake,  hop on their bikes for a 56 mile ride through the trails of Chatham County and then finish out the race on foot with a half marathon.

Walking a dog on Bolin Creek Trail.
Catherine Lazorko, Town of Chapel Hill

Orange County’s population may be smaller than that of its neighboring counties, but its greenways are no less loved. Chapel Hill and Carrboro both tout themselves as bike and pedestrian friendly towns, and Hillsborough has taken pains to create elaborate bicycle and walking routes throughout its downtown area that highlight dozens of historical buildings.  

A cyclist on the Capital Area Greenway.
City of Raleigh

Aside from the fact that Raleigh has a smartphone app for its greenways, the most impressive thing about its trails might be that so many of them are connected. Instead of a dribble of pavement here and there, the Capital Area Greenway System forms a giant loop around the city with several offshoots. There are sections where you can ride a bicycle over 30 miles without leaving a paved trail.

Laura Candler

Durham might seem like it’s crisscrossed with bike lanes and greenways now – from the American Tobacco Trail (ATT) on the southern edge of town to the North/South Greenway that picks up where the ATT leaves off in the city. But 30 years ago, that was not the case.

Downtown Greenway in Greensboro, public art,
Action Greensboro

With springtime comes the urge to get outdoors, and in a handful of North Carolina’s cities and towns, a growing network of greenways is making that easier to do. While North Carolina does not stand out nationally for its volume of bicycle commuters (it ranks 41st in the country), it does have a higher bike commuting rate than any neighboring state except Virginia. And several of North Carolina’s cities have adopted transportation plans to accommodate a higher volume pedestrians and cyclists.

Durham bike riders are traveling the city's portion of the American Tobacco Trail hoping to make it safer. Debbie West says it's a route she likes to take to where she needs to go. "I love the Tobacco Trail. I live and work near it," says West.

Biking the Underground Railroad

Aug 9, 2011

When Suepinda Keith and her husband Kevin Hicks moved to Chapel Hill, they were struck by how few young people they saw on bicycles. Avid riders themselves, they began a youth cycling program called Spoke ‘n Revolutions. When the group started riding last year, they had no idea how far it would take them – 1,800 miles, to be exact. That’s how far they biked this summer with a group of nine students from Chapel Hill High School. They were following the long path of the Underground Railroad all the way from Mobile, Alabama to Niagara Falls, biking roughly 60 miles a day for 33 days—something none of them had done before.

The state Department of Transportation has released a survey that identifies a need for improving bicycle and pedestrian safety. Nearly three quarters of respondents said they don't feel safe biking through their communities on a daily basis. That number was about 50 percent for pedestrians. The survey identified a lack of bicycle lanes and sidewalks as the top safety issue. But DOT spokeswoman Julia Merchant says there also needs to be a mutual respect among drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.