DURHAM, N.C. — A permanent reminder of a North Carolina cyclist is left along Guess Road in Durham. 


What You Need To Know

  • The City of Durham is adding eight miles of bike lanes this fall 
  • Approximately 1,000 cyclists are involved in car crashes every year in North Carolina
  • David Bradway has been involved in outreach efforts to make streets safer for commuter bicycles


Matt Simpson was riding his bike with his family when he was hit by a driver who ran a red light on July 10.

It's a white bicycle with flowers and messages written on the handlebars and seat, in memory of Matt Simpson. It's what members of the cycling community call a "ghost bike" or a roadside memorial for a person who was killed or severely injured by a motor vehicle while out riding. 

Simpson, 40, was coming off the Ellerbee Creek Trail and crossing Guess Road when he was struck by a driver running a red light. Simpson was riding with his wife and two children on that day in July. 

For David Bradway, a Durham resident, cyclist, husband, father and biomedical engineer, the death of Simpson hit close to home. 

"I'm the same age as him, our family makeup is the same. My wife and daughter and I, we ride the same streets. The crossing where he was killed was one I was considering for taking my daughter to middle school in a few years, thinking she might be taking that route without me someday. If a 40-year-old guy who was biking, probably his whole life can be killed, it can happen to anybody," Bradway said. 

The tragic death of Simpson is just one reason why Bradway and other transportation advocates in Durham are pushing for safer roadways. 

"I think ideally there would be more protected bike lanes and more space either vertically protected with bollards or flex post or off street completely. Just having the line on the ground, just having paint isn't protecting people from automobiles," Bradway said. 

Bradway uses his bicycle as a main form of transportation. 

David Bradway rides in a bike lane on Green Street.

"I like to bike to work because I can get out and get some exercise and have a good start to my day, active mode of transpiration," Bradway said. 

One of the main roads Bradway rides to get to work is Erwin Road. It's been the scene of more than 350 car accidents, 19 including pedestrians from 2017-2021. 

Erwin Road is a busy corridor that connects people to Duke Hospital, Duke University and the VA Hospital. It's also an access point for transit buses. This fall, Erwin Road is being repaved. 

Bradway says this is a prime opportunity for the city and state to make it more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. 

"The city hired a consultant to look at options for what can be done with the road, this segment we are on. East of Anderson is going to remove the center turn lane and add buffers for bike lanes, hopefully that will include vertical indicators and flexible paths," Bradway said. 

Bradway says if there is not a bike lane on a stretch of road he is riding on, he'll take a whole lane because it's more dangerous to hug the side of the road. 

West of Anderson, however, there aren’t currently any bike lanes. The city has proposed to add bike lanes in both directions by taking out one of the lanes, maybe the center turn lane. 

The city has only proposed taking that to Flowers Drive, not to Trent Drive, which is a more commonly used access point to campus," Bradway said. 

Bradway is a part of Bike Durham, a nonprofit organization that advocates for safer streets. 

A recent letter Bike Durham sent to the North Carolina Department of Transportation cited that NCDOT rejected the city's proposal to add bus lanes in one or both directions on Erwin Road due to projected intersection delays for vehicles in 2035. 

“We are gonna get some improvements, but we are disappointed by the lack of a bold plan from the city," Bradway said. 

The city has plans in place to improve certain areas. A 1.1-mile multi-use pathway for pedestrians and cyclists is in the works along Hillandale Road from I-85 to NC-147. 

A pedestrian and cyclist pathway on Cornwallis Road from Old Chapel Hill Road to South Roxboro Street is also slated for completion in 2025. 

This fall, Durham is installing eight miles of bike lanes on nine different streets. 

Bradway says while these improvement projects are a step in the right direction, there is still more to be done. 

"I'm hoping we can get to a point where there are more places for novice riders to try it out without fearing for their lives. I hope to keep up the pressure and advocate for change with the city and the state," Bradway said.