Published Somedays

Wilmington v. pretty much everwhere else by now

(updated: Jul 2, 2011)

I just thought I'd point out the difference between attitudes here v. other cities and countries. (Note I refer to Wilmington to mean the entire area, including Carolina Beach). So here's two articles for reference:

The first one, from the NY Times:

Across Europe, Irking Drivers Is Urban Policy

"ZURICH — While American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars. The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation."

Oh, they forgot to mention what they do here, remove bike lanes altogether, as the second article discusses:

Carolina Beach officials end ‘road diet' plan after complaints

"The hotly disputed road pattern on Carolina Beach's main thoroughfare will revert to four lanes likely before next year's summer tourism season."

They use the term 'road diet', as if roads are made solely for cars. No, let's be clear here, the size of the road is exactly the same, it's how it's used that has changed. It seems as though enough people complained, that the section is being reverted back to cars only.

While I believe that decisions concerning roads should be made at the local level, not at some far away state office, as I've complained before about the DOT, I question the long term consequences of such a decision. The residents may regret this later on. Like, say, after the state spends billions on a skyway that will bring a lot more traffic and pressure on the area. What will they do then? So much for a nice quaint town.

You still have essentially what is a highway coming into a town center. It's a pinch point. Removing the bike lanes does not solve the problem.

There was one comment I thought was appropriate:

"I understand “The Plan” to make downtown biker & pedestrian friendly. It is a great idea and is successful in other cities with large populations of full-time residents. However, this is Carolina Beach not Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill. You are not going to change the behavior of all of those thousands of people who VISIT Pleasure Island one or two weekends per month from April-to-September. They came to Pleasure Island in an SUV; they will drive to & on the beach in the SUV and they will drive to the Food Lion/Brew-thru/restaurants in that same SUV. NO AMOUNT OF TRAFFIC PAINT is going to change their driving habits. The only change it will bring will be their vacation destination to some place other than Pleasure Island."

It's up to the local residents to decide what kind of place they want to inhabit in the future, not tourists. And did you ever think that vacationers might want to ride bikes while on vacation? I seek places that are bike friendly and would not vacation anywhere where I can't ride a bike. See, the argument works the other way too.

Seems that residents, businesses are in the minority with respect to just about every other city in the world these days. The thing is, is that there is plenty of evidence now that shows that spending on bike infrastructure is a great investment, as I've pointed out before:

The NCDOT estimates that a $6.7MM investment in bike infrastructure in the Outer Banks returns as much as $60MM annually. And they get an estimated 680,000 visitors to the area each year. Probably way more than CB. So I really don't buy the loss of tourism/business argument at all. And I do think it's shortsighted to just end it prematurely without building the infrastructure out to fruition. I mean, the bike lane just ends. When was the last time you were driving down a road and the auto lane just ended abruptly? That would be unacceptable.

Meanwhile, here are a few stills of the bike lane from our 2011 FAC ride. It doesn't matter to me whether there's a bike lane here or not. I'm still going to ride on the road. Not riding is not an option. Unfortunately, it will be for most people. But I'll take the entire lane as necessary for my safety.

They'll take away the bike lane but I bet they leave the parking spaces.

Sayonara. Look at all the room between the pull-in parking and bike lane. They could do parallel parking, add the car lane back and still keep the bike lane. The road is quite wide. As a percentage of the road, the cyclist gets maybe 15% at most? Now they'll get a big fat nothing, like the hole in Britt's Donuts.

This just needs one of those green bike boxes.

Time to remove the bike lane to make more room for the hordes of people trying to get to the McDonalds.

Then the lane abruptly ends.

We saw lots of people riding bikes here ... like these guys riding opposite from traffic.

Check this guy out, pulling his kayak. Awesome.

Here's a still of me taking the lane on Carolina Beach Road. I decided to do this after last year's ride where we nearly got taken out by an RV. It's actually safer to force the cars to go around you rather than give them the option to squeeze by, because they will try to squeeze by. But by taking the lane, they can just complain, which they do.

Which would you rather do? Ride on the very edge and possibly get bumped?

Or take the lane, as I do here, forcing cars to go around.

Or just not ride on the road at all, for fear of this guy:

Or if you're from around these parts, maybe this guy (proof that gas is too cheap):

The Cape Fear Cyclists recently received a Star News "my reporter" question that addresses how we as cyclists can be perceived in the community:

"Why does local law enforcement not enforce traffic laws for
bicyclists? In my area of town, groups of 20-30 riders routinely
ride through every week, breaking many rules in the process. Riders
ride 3-5 wide down the road, do not use designated bike lanes, do
not stop at traffic signs, and do not properly signal their turns.
It makes it difficult to "share the road" if cyclists are going to
ignore basic rules and safety precautions."

I speak for myself here ... it is because in many cases it's safer for me to do so. I ride single file, hand signal and wait at lights unless no cars are in my lane which means the light ain't gonna change for me anyway. Or, I need to go because the light isn't long enough for a bike (try crossing S College), or to avoid going with the cars. But I will do whatever is safer for me. I don't care what a jealous motorists thinks. Because let's get down to brass tacks here, that's what it is, envy. They just can't stand it when a cyclist seems to get away with breaking some road rule and they aren't able to. It's not enough that they don't want to ride a bike, they don't want YOU riding a bike either. It has nothing to do with concern for anyone's safety. Who's the cyclist going to hurt except themselves anyway? From the motorist's perspective, it's not, "I don't want hurt another human being", it's, "I don't like being inconvenienced, and if I hit a cyclist, that's really going to wreck my plans for the day."

Eh, I may not have the best outlook, but it keeps me alive.


Filed Under: General Entries > North Carolina > Wilmington


1. Jake said...

I had an incident several weeks ago. I was biking down Independence Blvd, but was not using the Cross City Trail because:
1. I was going over 20 miles an hour and the Cross City Trail is not meant for speeds like that.
2. I knew the Cross City Trail did not cross Shipyard, so I was going to have to leave the trail anyway.
3. At the next stop light, I was not going the same direction as the Cross City Trail.
4. I had just passed a sign on Independence that said “Share the Road”
I had an older man, with his wife, slow down next to me in his car and proceed to yell and scream at me because I was not using the Cross City Trail. Some things you just can’t explain.

Jun 29, 2011 @ 5:38 AM

2. Peter W said...

The reality of the economy going south for city managers and developers is to add infrastructure to invite tourism. The millions of dollars spent on the road diet will detract from the community and turn the town into a high-speed traffic monster that no one will like when all is said and done. The beach is always going to attract people and will do so no matter what. Changing the roads to accommodate more traffic and disregard the revenues bike lanes offer is a bad decision. I like you plan my trips around where I can ride my bike whether it is on the road or off road. City council needs to wake up before they destroy what little CB has to offer.

Jun 29, 2011 @ 6:10 AM

3. Michael said...

The culture in this area is definitely not as bike friendly as one would expect with our excellent climate and relatively short commuting distances within the town. Having previously worked in the auto industry for a dozen years, I realized that so many people felt that their cars defined who they were or their level of "success". Until that changes for more people, the attitudes toward bicycling for transportation as well as recreation will be like what Jake wrote and what many of us have experienced at one time or another. We're too in love with our cars and it must make us feel superior in some way. I may have been guilty at one time but it's never too late to turn it around. Let's get another FAC ride going, skip the beach, and see if we can get 50 people to Ft, Fisher and back.

Jun 29, 2011 @ 10:32 PM

4. Redneck said...

Y'all are in FORD country !!!!

Jul 2, 2011 @ 4:34 AM

5. Matthew Redwine said...

Bike lanes just make me angry. It's one more thing for a motorist to ignore. People drive all over them because they don't notice them because usually they're empty 90% of the time. People walk on them without looking for oncoming bikes. I simply take up as much of a lane of traffic as I need to avoid getting doored or forced off. And when an angry/obnoxious driver honks at me, I simply wave and smile at them as if they were issuing a friendly hello. The absolute sure thing that is going to make the roads safer for cyclists is MORE CYCLISTS ON THE ROAD!

Jul 6, 2011 @ 11:18 AM

6. Jay said...

Excellent write up SBA! I was actually in Carolina Beach last weekend and witnessed several people bitching about the "traffic diet". Although I do not ride on the road much, I was still extremely happy to see that they had made strides to accommodate pedestrians and cyclist. However, after reading your post and seeing that they may be going back just because people are complaining, really pisses me off. It just goes to show, that the powers that be (local government) would rather turn tail and run when people complain, than do what's right. I have to agree with what Matthew posted above, the only thing that is going to make the roads safer for cyclist is MORE Cyclists!

Jul 8, 2011 @ 5:09 PM

7. carman said...

Sounds like SBA is a real a...hole and is taking a lane thats a car lane and blocking it with his slow moving bike. He should be ticketed for obstructing traffic!!! Its folks like him that do give bike riders a bad rap! Go where you aren't a menace to the local traffic flow or who knows, taking a full lane that you aren't supposed to just might upset some car drivers enough to move you out of the way. In any case, you should be ticketed and taken off the highways!!

Jul 22, 2011 @ 1:44 PM

8. SBA said...

carman, you're just reinforcing my point. Sorry you are such a small person that you would implicitly threaten other human beings due only to their choice of transportation. You should look up the definition of traffic as well.

You are just plain wrong.

NC Laws

"In North Carolina, the bicycle has the legal status of a vehicle. This means that bicyclists have full rights and responsibilities on the roadway and are subject to the regulations governing the operation of a motor vehicle."

And on the same page:

"There is no law that requires bicyclists to ride single file, nor is there a law that gives cyclists the right to ride two or more abreast. It is important to ride responsibly and courteously, so that cars may pass safely."

Cars can pass just fine. It can't take more than a second or two. Deal with it, or join us. You're outlook on life will be way better.

"Every time a motorist whines, a cyclist earns his wheels."

...or something like that.

Jul 22, 2011 @ 7:16 PM


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