Despite recent accidents, Wilmington rated 'bicycle friendly'
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A national organization says Wilmington is safe for cyclists, but some recent accidents suggest the opposite.

"We're trying to make people using alternative modes of transportation and being able to walk outside and run outside or being able to ride your bike in a safe environment is very important to us here in the City of Wilmington," Mayor Bill Saffo said.

The League of American Bicyclists honored Wilmington Wednesday as a bronze level "Bicycle Friendly Community." League president Andy Clarke says many components play into the rating, like how the community handles an accident involving a cyclist. He says despite the recent incidents, bicycling is a positive influence on a community.

"There are unfortunate situations and unfortunate incidents that happen in communities across the country where there are crashes, but by in large cycling remains a very healthy, very helpful activity," Clarke said.

Clarke says the more people know, the better they will handle interactions between cars and bikes.

"Ironically, the more people are out riding, the safer a community gets and feels for people on bikes," he said.

Cyclist Brian Rioux says Wilmington may have some more work to do despite the new recognition. He says he usually does not ride during certain times of the day because he does not feel safe on the roads.

"You don't have to be on a bicycle to know that driving around here can be a little bit dangerous anyway," Rioux said.

Rioux agrees that education is key. He says after accidents like one on River Road earlier this year where Trey and David Doolittle were hit and killed on their bicycles while riding in a bike lane, Rioux thinks both drivers and cyclists need to be more respectful to each other.

"As Wilmington continues to grow, there's not just more bikes on the road, there's more cars on the road," he said. "So I think drivers just being patient is paramount."

The League of American Bicyclists says Wilmington still has some work to do to get silver or gold status.

Mayor Saffo says the city has plans to put more bike paths into place and put crosswalks in busy intersections.

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Really? I'd hate to see bicycle unfriendly.

I support riding bikes in town, I ride my bike very often. However people need to learn to use the new bike roads the city has made for us. More often than none I see bikers riding in a road on a busy street such as Independence Blvd not even using the bike road 2 feet away. This really grinds my gears, maybe the some bikers should take a safety course of know there route well enough to realize where the paths are to stay out of harms way.

"Rioux agrees that education is key. He says after accidents like one on River Road earlier this year where Trey and David Doolittle were hit and killed on their bicycles while riding in a bike lane, Rioux thinks both drivers and cyclists need to be more respectful to each other."

Ummm....the guy was high on drugs...not really a situation that most people who would be willing to be more "respectful" are going to find themselves in.

Reality is, no matter who wants to say different to make the county/city look good, New Hanover County has more crashes than almost any other county (maybe all other counties) in the whole state. When you have that many crappy drivers and you decide to ride a BICYCLE around them, people are going to die. And more than likely it won't be the ones in the cars and trucks.

And the bicycle riders around here aren't known for exactly strictly adhering to traffic laws, such as traffic lights and stop signs, either...

SHARE THE ROAD. It's the law. And it's probably the law most broken in this county. As a cyclist, I ride on the white line, or to the right of it when pavement exists, but there are no bike lanes where I live. The shoulders are ALWAYS overgrown, mowed on average once a year, and often filled with trash beyond fast food wrappers. (Appliances, tires, furniture, etc.) I often see the signs warning of fines for littering and wonder if anyone in the county has ever received a citation. The roads are an embarrassment. Then there is the ever-growing gas tax for road maintenance, and yet we all know that this money stays in Raleigh. Motorists like to play "How fast can I drive, how close can I come to the biker, and how loud can I blare my horn." There is NO common courtesy. This is home, for me, but I have lived in Charlotte and found it to be a much safer place for bikes and motorcycles. The main reason? Drivers here are ignorant and selfish. Also, leash laws are not enforced. How can the area brag of this recognition? It is simply not true. Wilmington is NOT bicycle friendly.

All quite true. I was surprised and shocked to hear Wilmington was getting an award for being bicycle friendly. It is quite dangerous here.
And education is all well and good but there's nothing like the rapid education one gets from strict enforcement of the existing traffic rules that keep people alive and healthy.

There are a thousand rules broken in traffic everyday. People roll through stop signs, pull in front of you, don't use signals, text and drive, drink and drive, throw lit cigerettes out, speed and the endless list goes on and on. Unfortunately, there simply aren't enough police to stop and ticket the careless idiots out there.

So What do you do? DRIVE DEFENSIVELY!!! Stop at stop signs, don't speed, take the time to LOOK before you pull out and so on. It's all I can do to protect myself from the idiots. So why is it that the bicyclists don't think they need to follow the rules of the road? They do not stop at stop signs, blow through red lights, rarely use signals, swap lanes without notice, fail to use visible lighting or clothing.

I agree that we have some pretty bad, self-absorbed and distracted drivers drivers around here, but those very same attributes are right there with the cyclists as well. They have a LOT to learn, just like the drivers including the ability to be polite!

The one thing I've yet to figure out is WHY in the world does someone want to ride a bicycle or run down College Rd., Market St., Oleander or ANY other busy throughfare during rush hour traffic? What is that all about? Prancing around in spandex tighties thinking your a Lance Armstrong or what? And as for River Rd. riders, who in the world is comfortable riding a skimpy bicycle on a squirrely road with 2 ton cars zizz-wheeling to your back at 60-80 mph? One milli-second of unfocused driving time from them and you're toast. Sorry, I can't seem to find the tiniest bit of practicality, safety, good sense or judgement there. History has proven itself there many times, use it or lose it. Sure, we'll feel sorry for you, but will likely think of the term "idiot for doing that..." first.

Common sense and prudent judgement is what it takes to preserve our lives these days. We simply cannot rely on law, courtesy or proper driving habits. Just because you may have "rights", that won't do a darn thing keep you out of the cooler!