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.