Hey guys, the students are back!

Despite the fact that it happens every single year, the return of the students always catches me off guard. NC Central classes started today, while Duke students are moving in this week with classes starting nex Monday the 24th.

The students are obviously huge for businesses around campus, but they also ramp up the wait times at restaurants and make everything just feel a bit more hectic around downtown. You might want to go ahead and make some reservations if you’re thinking of eating out this weekend.

Tonight is national night out

If you live in one of Durham’s neighborhoods, you might want to know that tonight is national night out. The annual event encourages cooperation between residents and police, and as usual Durham and the DPD are participating. So if you spot the popo on your block tonight, there’s probably nothing to be worried about.

Recently there has, of course, been some anti-police rhetoric in Durham (and, you know, a lot of places) but in my experience these events tend to be fairly positive. You can probably expect a council member or the mayor to swing by, in addition to DPD officers and Durham County Sheriff’s deputies.

The Eno Quarry claims another victim

The Quarry, located in the Eno River State Park, has had a history of drownings. Another young man lost his life there yesterday.

I’m posting this as a bit of a PSA: the Quarry is only for people who really know how to swim. It’s a good 15 minute walk from your car, there are no life guards, there’s basically nowhere here you can touch the bottom. Depending on how you enter, you might have to swim a good ways to even get a handhold to climb out.

The Quarry has become more popular than ever, and it’s kind of becoming the de-facto recommended swimming hole for newcomers, which I find a bit troubling because it is not for everybody. With its rise in popularity more incidents like this are likely to happen. I love the Quarry, but if you want to go, make sure you are prepared. Even if you are a strong swimmer, you might want to keep a flotation device ready just in case you have trouble.

If you aren’t absolutely certain of your swimming abilities, but want to take a dip, there are other options which are easier to handle.

Free parking

I was about to write about parking, but Kevin beat me to it.

tl;dr: people are still worried about the loss of free parking in the city lot on Ninth Street. There’s also an upcoming parking apocalypse downtown which may require charging for street parking there and increasing deck fees.

If those Ninth Street business owners want to take on the cost of the lot and make it free, I have no qualms about that. That’s on them – they can pay the price. But I feel pretty strongly that the city shouldn’t be subsidising a lot there (or pretty much anywhere).

Laying down a ton of surface parking (at the tax payer’s dime, no less) destroys cities. Encouraging people to drive everywhere creates traffic nightmares, and all of the wasted space makes cities feel like desolate wastelands. I’ve got a record you should listen to about that. We need to find better ways for people to get where they’re going.

If this town wants to hande the increased density that all of those new condos and apartments hint at, the idea of ample free surface parking needs to get out of people’s heads.

Durham launches Open Durham (no relation to Open Durham)

Well, now there are two things named Open Durham.

The new kid on the block is a web site which houses all sorts of data about the city. You data nerds out there go have fun with this, I’m sure that you can find all kinds of interesting trends. Like, check out this crime map for example. It seems like it could be a pretty useful tool.

A lot of you probably already know of the original Open Durham, created by Gary Kueber as a followup to Endagered Durham as a facility to document the history of the city’s architecture.

The city better get on that SEO to optimize its brand and avoid consumer confusion. Gary’s site pre-dates the new service by several years, so he’s got quite a head start. I guess there’s room in the world for multiple open Durhams, just be careful in your googling to make sure you find the one you actually want.

New Belgium’s “Tour de Fat” hits Durham this weekend

Tour de Fat is another weird one. Not, like, Beaver Queen Pageant weird, but it’s up there.

New Belgium (which is a brewery that is mostly in the business of making beer) operates a travelling show which is about bicycles (and also, of course, about New Belgium beer). The event is located in and around the DBAP, with various activities for all ages thereabouts.

The show itself is free, but if you’re so inclined you can cough up some cash to help support local non-profits.

Another white bicycle

There was yet another hit-and-run collision which resulted in the death of a cyclist this past weekend.

The suspect collided with the cyclist, Isidro Razo, early Sunday morning on Angier Avenue. The suspect then left Razo to die in a ditch, and Razo’s body was discovered several hours later.

WRAL has posted surveilance video that may show the suspect driving erratically after the collision. The last official word from the DPD, however, is that they are looking for a dark colored SUV (which would be a different vehicle than the one shown at WRAL).

Adam Haile wrote to the Durham bike and pedestrian mailing list with the following note:

By national averages, a town our size should expect a cyclist death once every two years.  This morning’s fatality makes four in a year.

I have not directly researched that statistic but I find it plausible. It appears to be very dangerous to ride a bicycle in Durham.

The city seems to be incapable of or unwilling to respond to these safety concerns. There have been a few bike lanes added over the past several years, but almost all of them were funded by the DoT (which was resurfacing or restriping the roads anyway; this allowed simple lane adjustments without the city having to spend any money of its own).

The 15-501 “road diet” (which now seems likely to be approved, at least) is such a project. I’m glad that project is happening; I’m disappointed that the city doesn’t make projects like it happen.

Vehicles should not be required for safe travel, but in Durham they sure seem to be.