A bumper crop of “No Parking” signs is flourishing along Reedy Creek and Trenton roads at the southeast edge of Umstead State Park in West Raleigh.
Even in winter, they’re spreading like kudzu.
In the past two years, the state Department of Transportation has planted about 60 signs on a quarter-mile stretch around this quiet corner.
They stand barely 30 feet apart, closer than needed for a simple regulatory message. They’re dense enough to serve as crude barriers — to anyone who dares to park the car and indulge in the guilty pleasure of fresh air and exercise in a splendid state park.
On Tuesday, the Raleigh City Council will consider making a further extension of the Umstead unwelcome mat.
The council’s consent agenda — items to be approved without discussion — includes a parking ban on the streets of Trenton Woods, one of the nice new subdivisions springing up on Umstead’s outskirts. Homeowners there don’t like park users parking in front of their homes.
[Tuesday 2/3 update: The Trenton Woods proposal was pulled from the council agenda and sent to a committee for study.]
Danielle Rowland, a dental student who lives on Trenton Road, says on-street parking is the best way to provide for visitors who use the Reedy Creek Road entrance.
“It would cost the city nothing to allow people to park on those residential streets,” said Rowland, 29. “These are public streets, and our tax money goes for maintenance. There’s no reason people who live there can make them private streets.”
A parking ban in Trenton Woods would set a bad precedent, she said, for other subdivisions on Umstead’s border. Rowland wants City Council members to stop and think this through.
Think? First? That would be a new approach.
City and state officials have blundered through access issues around three neighborhood entrances to Umstead, which is North Carolina’s busiest urban state park.
Like both Graylyn Drive on the north side of the park and the similarly named Old Reedy Creek Road on the south side, Reedy Creek Road ends at the locked gate of an Umstead maintenance road.
When Rowland moved there five years ago, Reedy Creek and Trenton were quiet gravel roads that intersected at a stop sign. Other Raleigh residents enjoyed parking on the shoulders to slip inside Umstead for a morning bike ride or a weekend run.
Then progress happened. Two years ago, the state and the city extended a nice greenway trail along Reedy Creek to the park — for the most part, a terrific idea.
Trenton and Reedy Creek were paved. The stop sign vanished, and the “No Parking” signs appeared. The nearest parking lot is two miles away at the N.C. Museum of Art.
Although Rowland welcomes Umstead users who park their cars along Trenton Road, she worries about drivers speeding through the area.
Trenton and Reedy Creek have attracted cut-through traffic since they were paved, including commuters who hurry to work at nearby SAS Institute.
The speed limit is 45 mph on part of Trenton Road. It drops to 35 mph near the corner and on Reedy Creek Road. Rowland and neighbors have lobbied DOT, unsuccessfully, to drop it further.
The hilly, curving roads are lined with narrow shoulders, deep ditches, and “No Parking” signs interspersed — in good weather — with parked cars.
“When I’m walking my dogs on a pedestrian path a foot and a half wide, and cars come from both ways at 45 mph, there’ve been times I’ve had to jump in the ditch,” Rowland said.
“If someone opens their door and a car is flying around that corner, someone’s going to get hurt.”