Published Somedays

River Rd - 28,000 vehicles per day

(updated: Jul 26, 2007)

From today's Star News: No More Rolling on River? I think that regardless of whether they move the road or not, the increase in traffic will eventually marginalize most cyclists to riding on River Rd to the morning hours of the weekend.

The planned development will increase the number of cars on the road beyond the normal expected increase if no development occurred. It may end up looking like a College Rd. So much for the views.

I think that when River Road is rebuilt, an off-road path will be built in lieu of a bike lane, just like what they're doing with Military Cutoff presently ... one side only, with a bunch of streets to cross. If you're going the opposite way of traffic, you have to be extra careful because cars aren't necessarily looking in both directions for cyclists. Off-road bike paths will benefit the casual or recreational cyclist, but not serious roadies. What about commuters?

I also think that the Tri clubs and the Cape Fear Cyclists and any other groups that ride on the roads should be part of a larger organization like what the mountain bike clubs in NC, SC, GA and other states have done with SORBA. After years of seeing trails get bulldozed for development they are now having great success getting new sustainable trails built. Instead, what we have here in Wilmington are fragmented organizations and a resulting weak voice.

So do you think a rebuilt River Rd will benefit cycling or not?

"It's mine. All mine!"

No More Rolling on River?

By Rachel George

The view that can't be beat - the one overlooking the wetlands, the trees and the Cape Fear River. That's the first thing local cyclists are afraid of losing.

The next is an uninterrupted ride down River Road, one without stop signs or traffic lights.

And finally, safety is something they fear might not be preserved if plans to relocate a 3-mile stretch of road inland from the river go through.

"River Road is just a package deal for us because it does have a bike lane, it does have the scenery and it's a long road with out any kind of stop signs," said Cindy Townsend, a member of the YMCA's Tri-Club. "You can ride for a long time and enjoy the scenery. ... To have a place where you can be outside and clear your mind because you're looking at the beautiful river, it's great."

Townsend and other local cyclists are concerned that a plan proposed by San Diego-based Newland Communities, one unanimously approved by the New Hanover County commissioners in April, will eliminate the reasons many use the road today.

According to the plan, nearly 1,400 acres along River Road between Barnards and Motts creeks will be used to build residential units along with commercial spaces. It has been met with resistance from residents, who contend it will cause an increase of traffic and noise in their neighborhoods.

For cyclists, it means a change to one of the best bike routes in town.

"You can't beat the scenery," said Jonathan Shands, a member of the Y Tri-Club. "We have the crosswind to help us train, and you can't get that in town."

YTri-Club cycling coach Mark Minskey said the club uses River Road frequently, especially for longer rides on the weekends. Traffic on the road is a concern now, even with a bike lane, so Minskey worries about the safety of cyclists once the road is moved.

"It's starting to get more and more dangerous riding down River Road due to the speed and the number of cars," he said. "We've looked at alternate routes and times of day."

According to a study conducted by Kimley-Horn and Associates, which was paid for by Newland and supervised by the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization, each day approximately 5,700 vehicles use the stretch of River Road between Independence Boulevard and Sanders Road, the section slated to be moved. By 2025, with the Newland development and other growth in the area included, planners expect that number to jump to 28,000 vehicles per day, according to Mike Kozlosky, senior transportation planner.

Although a new bike lane would accompany the road, and Newland has plans for a multi-use path to be built near the relocated section, local cyclists are still concerned.

"It's designated as a place where cyclists should ride," said John Williams, a retired UNCW professor who rides River Road most mornings. "The first things I saw on (the plan) indicated they were moving it and adding a couple of traffic circles. And traffic circles can be very dangerous for cyclists."

Even now, some say the biggest danger for bikers lies in vehicles turning onto the road. With more development and more traffic, collisions with cars are something they fear could become more common.

"With more houses, they'll be pulling out and it won't register to them that 'Here comes a biker,'" said Ken Schettig, a member of the YTriClub who often rides his bike to work at WECT from the Arrowhead neighborhood. "If you're pulling out, you're looking for a car, not a bike."

Al Schroetel, president of Cape Fear Cyclists, said many of the organization's 300 members use River Road frequently and share the concerns of other area bikers. He said they have found Wilmington drivers to be courteous toward cyclists, adding that he hopes that stays the case as changes come and traffic increases along River Road.

"River Road really is the best bike lane in New Hanover County," he said. "We just hope that between the Department of Transportation and the county and the developers, that they will preserve the integrity of that bike path."

Rachel George: 343-2261

Filed Under: General Entries > North Carolina > Wilmington


1. Justin said...

That's just splendid news. The one place I'd say I truly enjoy cycling in is going to be altered so, essentially, a bunch of shit heads can live in developments. I think they should name it Fort Asswipe or Fatperson Landing.

So glad I'm moving out of Wilmington.

Jul 26, 2007 @ 11:42 PM


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