New in town?

(A semi-official Carrboro-Chapel Hill cycling FAQ)

Whether you come to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area from the west end of the state, the West Coast, or western Asia, if you want to ride a bicycle here, there are some things you should know about riding in North Carolina and this area in particular.

Bikes—where to buy and where to have them serviced:

We are fortunate to have several excellent bike shops in town. For a list of them, look under our “Resources” tab for bikes and businesses. In addition, craigslist in this area often has several affordable used bikes listed.

Commuting by bike:

We have several members of the CBC who commute daily by bicycle. If you are interested in getting information on routes, send us a message via our contact page and let us know the start and stop points of your route. If you would like someone to ride it with you the first time, we’ll be happy to do so.

There is a map in development of bike parking in Carrboro here.

If you work or study at UNC, check out the University’s parking map and other information pertaining to cycling on the campus available here.

The Law:

In North Carolina, bicycles are considered vehicles. This means that the laws that apply when you drive also apply when you operate a bike.

A local riding group, the Luna Chix, wrote a a good summary of the laws in Chapel Hill and Carrboro that is available here. Regarding sidewalks, in addition to the locations noted in this article, bicycles are not allowed on the sidewalk in Carrboro on the block of Main St. between Greensboro St. and Weaver St., and other locations in Chapel Hill that have signage prohibiting sidewalk riding by bikes.


  • Ride on the right in the same direction as cars
  • Stop at stop signs and obey all traffic signals (yep, all of them!)
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks
  • Use hand signals to signal turns
  • Pass other vehicles on the left unless there is a bike lane that extends all the way to the intersection. Do not filter up along the right side of cars in the same lane as the cars. It is not legal and it puts you in a position where vehicles are not expecting you and often cannot see you.
  • Have a front light and a rear light or reflector if you are riding at night
  • Wear a bicycle helmet if under 16 years old
  • Secure child passengers in a child seat or bicycle trailer if under 40 pounds or 40 inches tall

In addition, cyclists should:

  • Avoid sidewalk riding as it is unsafe and against the law in certain locations.
  • Look back and signal before changing lanes and ensure that no traffic is coming.
  • Make eye contact with drivers at intersections.
  • Be respectful of other users of the road.
  • Be Predictable: Make your intentions clear to everyone else on the road.
  • Think ahead: anticipate what others on the road will do next. Watch for turning vehicles.
  • Speed and lane positioning: Slower vehicles on the road should be positioned to the right. Some lanes are wide enough for a car and bike to operate safely side by side, but others are not. Ride a safe distance from the curb and away from the “door zone” of parked cars. When a lane is too narrow to share safely side by side, you can and should legally ride in the middle of the lane.
  • Passing: Only pass on the left unless you are in a separate lane, or a bike lane that extends all the way to the intersection. Filtering up on the right beside stopped cars in the same lane is not legal, and it can put the cyclist in the motorist’s blind spot.
  • For more information, see
4 comments on “New in town?
  1. Bob Sydell says:

    I am new to Chapel Hill and I am looking for a group (big or small) that goes on C bike rides.
    Is there anyone I can contact to get further details?
    I did go on different web sites but need times and a couple more specifics.

    Thanks very much.
    Bob Sydell
    717-433-0515 cell

  2. bigbenaugust says:

    Welcome, Bob.
    I would recommend the Chapel Hill Cycling site ( for local rides.

  3. HK says:

    I am going to be in Chapel Hill for a month. Where can I rent a bike from?

    Thank you.

  4. bigbenaugust says:

    I know Back Alley Bikes in Carrboro has some city-bikes to rent. You may also be able to work something out with Clean Machine in Carrboro or Bicycle Chain in Chapel Hill.

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