WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Yesterday we told you about a cab driver ticketed in Wrightsville Beach for pulling over and picking up a customer. Today we hear from those familiar with the island to see what they have to say about the incident.
Cab driver Gary Nolt’s story sparked numerous online comments from viewers who felt Wrightsville Beach town ordinance 74 goes too far by restricting cab drivers or anyone from parking or standing in undesignated areas.
Nolt said he received a ticket over the weekend when he pulled over to pick up a drunk patron who needed a ride. But Nolt is not the only cab driver who has run into a problem at Wrightsville Beach. Ken Fraser says he also has been threatened with a ticket for trying to pick up customers at night.
“There really is no harm or foul just to drop them off on the side of the road,” Fraser said. “You are not stopping in the road obstructing traffic you’re off on the side just like you were parked.”
Fraser says cab drivers have to pick up customers in two designated areas, which are located on Lumina and West Columbia and right behind the Wings surf store. He thinks the two spots are small and not ideal.
“They have to either park there or park off one of the side streets where they are not visible to the patrons coming out of the clubs, so it’s pretty difficult to pick up and drop-off,” Fraser said.
But while drivers and some viewers disagree with Wrightsville Beach’s strict ordinance, some familiar with the island understand it’s about safety.
“If there’s a lot of cabs and cars in the middle of the road someone can easily get hurt,” said Travis Deitz, who works at Sweetwater Surf Shop. “It’s a little inconvenient for cabs to go to a certain spot, but, you know, in the long run it’s worth the safety issue.”
As for those actually using the cabs at Wrightsville Beach, some think there are not enough taxis and believe it’s rules like ordinance 74 that keep them away.
“I don’t think they have ever had enough cabs down here at all,” Nicholas Papaioanu said. “I think downtown (wilmington) gets favored a lot. Law enforcement down there looks the other way than they do at the beach.”
We contacted the mayor and town aldermen to get their reaction. In a statement Mayor David Cignotti said, “The town of Wrightsville Beach added a second taxi stand last year at the request of our downtown business owners. We encourage taxi drivers to use the taxi stands in an effort to increase pedestrian and auto safety. The last thing we want is people, some of them intoxicated, jumping out in the street and trying to flag down taxis.”