SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - After a year-long process, a full draft of the Cape Fear Regional Bicycle Plan has been completed.
The Cape Fear Council of Governments was awarded a grant from the NC Department of Transportation to develop a plan to "identify opportunities and constraints for bicycling in the Cape Fear region, and to establish recommendations for improvements."
The plan covers Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties as well as southern Bladen, western Onslow and southern Sampson counties.
According to the Cape Fear Council of Governments, the draft was completed after input from a steering committee and more than 450 residents.
Cyclist Tammy Swanson read through the plan and said it's a good start to a great idea and hopes it will become a reality.
"It addresses the structures of the road, are there roads that next to be fixed, maybe potholes," Swanson said. "It also addresses the many benefits of cycling like why we should cycle more."
Swanson said she likes to stick to the roads when she's on her bike and the one thing she saw missing from the plan was bicycle safety education related to riding on the road.
"Things like how to handle approaching a cyclist, how to handle a a cyclist not on the right side of the road, how do we handle intersections--we need more education," Swanson said.
The plan did mention bicycle safety education around 7 times, dedicating a page to the Watch For Me NC: Media Campaign. It's an ongoing state-wide grant program, with a purpose of " improv[ing] pedestrian safety by influencing the behaviors of drivers and pedestrians through safety messaging and enforcement." To spread those messages, the plan suggests handing out educational material at festivals and shops and working with police to hand out bicycle lights and safety cards--but Swanson said she's not sure how effective that would be.
"How are we going to get this information out to people who ca't pick up a pamphlet, who may not watch a thirty second commercial? We need to get the information out on a broader scale."
She said she doesn't know a better alternative, but she said she would like to explore that option with the steering committee. In 2016, the Wilmington Police Department and Highway Patrol reported a combined 55 cyclists were involved in a collision with a vehicle in New Hanover County.
Challenges listed in the plan include connectivity across the Cape Fear River, railroad corridors, and major roadways like I-40.
Those wishing to review or comment on the project, can do so here.
Several outreach sessions also will be held for those wishing to talk to project staff and provide input.
- Saturday, Feb. 11, 10 a.m.-noon, Brown Dog Coffee Company, 103A Fremont St., Burgaw
- Wednesday. Feb. 15, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Shallotte Crossing shopping center, 130 Shallotte Crossing Pkwy #1, Shallotte
- Saturday, March 11, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., 102 Town Hall Dr., Leland
Those wishing to comment on the draft can do so on the website through April 15 or by contacting Allen Serkin at 910-395-4553 ext. 206.