Greenways in Raleigh, January 27, 2016

I applaud their existence but I usually only bike on greenways when I have to.  There is so much more to look at when biking on neighborhood streets!  Still, Raleigh has built in just the last few years a top-notch 112 mile system called the Capital Area Greenway.

I biked around a lot of those Raleigh greenways one day last week.

The placement of these greenways has a lot to do with rainwater drainage.  To explain my understanding of water in Raleigh I have to go way back.  I had moved to the Raleigh/Durham area in 1988.  Before, in 1974 I first left my hometown of Virginia Beach to go to college in Chestertown MD.  On graduating I went to graduate school in Phoenix AZ,  then moved to Houston TX, New Orleans LA, and Miami FL.    Except for Phoenix, which is desert, all these places are flat; I had never lived anywhere with hills.  I had never experienced the quite common topography of the North Carolina Piedmont.   I had to learn that when you have rolling hills the frequent rainfall drains to ravines at the bottom of those hills, which become streams and creeks.   Along these streams are mostly flat areas called flood plains.   Because this is the lowest area, cities lay sewer lines paralleling these creeks.    These narrow bands of flat wooded areas are too easily flooded to build buildings on,  and most have a municipal right of way for the large underground sewer pipes.   It was excellent foresight to start building bike paths, “greenways” next to or on top of these sewer lines.   While Raleigh can be quite hilly, almost all the Capital Area Greenway is flat, and there are now paved paths alongside the meandering creeks.


I drove over from Chapel Hill with my bicycle in the trunk and parked at Crabtree Valley Mall, next to Crabtree Creek and the bike path.



This path parallels the creek, frequently crossing back and forth, sometimes going over water.





At several points the bicycle rumbled over gum balls spread all over the path.




A piece of the bike path had been washed out by recent heavy rains .  I detoured up steep hills through neighborhoods.  Raleigh has been on a economic roll lately and prices for inside-the-beltline houses have gone through the roof.   There has been the controversial practice of the Tear Downer.   In neighborhoods of 1950’s-60’s ranch houses homeowners and speculators are tearing down houses like this:


and replacing them with houses like this:



In certain neighborhoods it seems this is happening to almost every other house.

I actually have read something advocating for historic preservation of fifties-sixties ranch houses.  I grew up in a neighborhood of these ranch houses and I find them really unattractive,  especially those with “colonial” details.   I have trouble getting excited about saving them from being torn down, although the gaudy house above is even worse.    Here in Raleigh another house bites the dust.



On the way back I stopped in Crabtree Valley Mall to get a decaf coffee to drink on the drive home to Chapel Hill.




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