Sunday rides to replace Sunday drives?
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Cyclists are working to gather support for a plan that would give them more space to ride in the Port City. The idea would make Sundays a day for riding, closing some streets to cars, and leaving them for bikes.

”It’s in its infancy in a way. I feel like in the next several years you're going to really start to see it take on,” said Matthew Wisthoff.

The cycling community is growing, but first it needs a place where it can grow.

“One of the most common questions I get asked is, ‘you know, I want to ride my bike, where's a good place in Wilmington?’ and I have a really hard time coming up with an answer,” said Erol Caglarcan of Cape Fear Cyclists.

“The bike paths that are in place right now are a good start. But they're very disconnected, they'll leave you at four lane intersections with no crosswalk,” Wisthoff said.

To help, a movement is growing on-line to give people a place to ride. It's called 'ciclovia’, a Spanish word meaning bike path

The idea? To close about six miles of city streets to cars for six hours on Sundays and open them up to walkers and riders...

“Just to see what you can do with the public space and turn it into a living space,” Caglarcan said.

As of right now, the closure would be focused around the 17th Street Extension near Halyburton Park. A petition is circulating the web, and facebook. Supporters say Sunday riding would be safe, something that can't be said about some city streets now.

Some riders like Matt Wisthoff have even been hit. “It resulted in a collision, and it’s unfortunate. But, it will keep happening just as long as people don't take bikes seriously on the road.”

The next step? Take the plan to the city for approval. “I think there will be some challenges going forward, but hopefully with a lot of volunteers and a lot of support behind it it'll be successful,” Caglarcan said.

The cyclists plan to collect more signatures over the next several months.

If you would like to see the petition or learn more about the proposal, you can visit http://www.thepetitionsite.com/petition/654208341.

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I commute by bicycle to work, to the store, almost everywhere i go when i can. Why? Because its something I love to do.

For the record, bicycles were actually around before the invention of cars. If anything we had the right to the roads before cars did. Yes we should stick to the correct parts of the road, yes we shouldn't do illegal things on the road. But also, as a driver of a car, you have a responsibility to do the right thing as well. For every single person that complains a cyclist did something stupid to them i can show you a cylist that had a driver do something stupid to them. I've had a car drive me off the road at 5:30 in the morning when no one else was on the two lane road i was riding on to go home from work. I had 2 lights, a reflective vest, reflective tires and more. I couldn't do anything more right and yet he didn't do anything right.

Look this entire situation is a 2 way street. If you want to complain about us or we want to complain about bad drivers we need to educate each other on the causes of these problems. Cyclists need to understand the laws and be penalized when they break them. At the same time, so do drivers.

I will continue to ride my bike on roads i consider safe. I will do so correctly, and I will not fear other drivers. I look forward to an event like this, so i can ride my bike and talk with people and have a wonderful time. I hope that maybe some people will come out and enjoy it to. I say, don't knock it till you've tried it.

Cycling changed my life, it may not change yours, but why would you be so hostile to something that can be so great? Then again, we are americans, even we aren't perfect.

Hi. I am the one in the news story who initiated this idea. I would like to get more people involved in cycling...for many reasons, health, fun, transportation, etc. Also to maybe create awareness of the current way we occupy the landscape and the sheer amount of land that cars require, and why a bike infrastructure makes sense, especially in Wilmington. But mostly for fun and health. Judging by all the negative responses here, this is sorely needed and I am on the right track. A lot of now bike friendly places started like Wilmington -- hostile toward cyclists. Austin, TX is a good example.

This is good for cities because it promotes health and wellness. This is good for business because vendors can come and be part of the event. The road is still open to emergency vehicles of course and residential traffic. This road was chosen because it is county owned (as opposed to state which owns most of the roads here) so less permitting is required, it has businesses at one end, there is a park alongside it, and it is low residential (one neighborhood). It is one Sunday afternoon for a few hours. Nobody is going to be inconvenienced. It's one 2 mile section of road. And I'd like to point out that this is not just for cycling. It is for anyone -- walking, jogging, rollerblading, pushing a stroller. Let's try it. Cycling is growing here. In ten years Wilmington will be bike friendly. I know change is hard to deal with. If don't like that, I don't know what to say to you.

First of all, I don't think it should be legal for bikes to be on the road. Mainly because of safety, but also because they don't pay the road taxes in the amounts car drivers do based on usage of the roads. I say that referring to gas taxes which go to pay for road usage.

MORE to the point...bicyclist can be VERY ANNOYING! I would rather be behind a 85 year old grandmother jogging on the side of the road...because you KNOW what she is going to do most likely. Bicyclists that I see...ARE RUDE! They DON'T FOLLOW the rules of the road...and blatantly disobey the rules as a matter of fact. If you want to be on the road and want to be equal..then by golly...you should follow the rules of the road. The problem is...I have NEVER seen a bicyclist stopped by a cop for running a red light..even when it's right in front of them..and THAT annoys the crap out of me. I myself ride a bike...I MYSELF am part of a cyclist group and it seems some of them are just pompous rear ends and do things to PURPOSELY tick drivers off...just irritating that some people can be so darn malicious.

Response to Guest7969:

Hello, First, 99% of the cyclists on the road, own at least 1 car and pay registration, gas tax, property tax, state tax and federal tax so that is not a good point.
I see your point about the rules of the road though but look at it this way. One of the concerns of a cyclist on the road is to not slow up traffic. As drivers as well, we don't want to be held up when we need to go somewhere. So when on the bike, I certainly don't want to hold up anyone so if the light is red and I can cross I will do it. The reason?: Because if you, the cyclist, wait at the light and then it turns green, all the cars behind you and your bike have to go around you, thereby slowing the traffic at the light. Now some of those cars in line at the light won't make the green light as a result of you when normally they would get thru. So, in effect, the cyclist running the stop sign or red light, is actually helping the drivers out. This is a fact. I'm a cyclist, I'm a driver. I'm all for fast moving traffic, on either a bike or in a car. Cylists should run every light or stop sign to help traffic flow.
Now, think about this: the cyclist you just got mad at for no good reason, may be your Doctor who just helped you out with your operation. Or he may be a police officer. Or he/she may have checked you out at the grocery store and wished you a nice day.
Think about it. We're all in this together man.

jerks should not be allowed on the road... period. Cars too! Gonna find them no matter what. Wilmington is a Petri dish for bad drivers no matter what they are driving.

I ride and I have never taken the approach that if I have a right to I will. I try to think about my actions. I follow all the rules. So far so good. But are there ones out there that don't? ABSOLUTELY!! They give the rest of us a bad name too.

As far as the taxes you mention. I disagree. I see you seem to be referring to the fact that gas taxes only give you the "right" for the vehicle. No.... just doesn't work. I have 4 vehicles so I have and am paying plenty of taxes. I pay taxes on it... I can use it.

I will however stay the hell out of your way....

some bike riders come over the line one day a couple got in front of me iam going 45 you dont put no bike in front of of a car going 45 unless you want to share the bike with the pavement

Fantastic idea! It would be a great way to get people interested in cycling, and provide a healthy activity for all. Health crisis solved!

While I support the bikers, however, some people do still have to work on Sunday's and need not to have traffic so impeded. Just something to think about.

Unless the plans have changed recently, I believe the idea is to close off ONE SIDE of 17th Street Extension to motorized traffic, leaving the other side to handle that traffic in both directions.

From the story: "Some riders like Matt Wisthoff have even been hit. “It resulted in a collision, and it’s unfortunate. But, it will keep happening just as long as people don't take bikes seriously on the road.” I'm sure it was 100% the car drivers fault and you were following the rules of the road completely. Yea, right. Most bikers follow the rules as long as it is to their benefit. It will continue to happen until cyclists follow the same rules you expect vehicle drivers.

Interesting that people are perfectly comfortable sharing their vacation home with 6 or 8 other families, but not the road. The whole idea behind time-share condos is that not everyone needs access to all of their housing all of the time.

I doubt anyone is going to be seriously inconvenienced by Sunday afternoon cyclists. NYC has had a tremendously favorable response to this idea, and for good reason. It makes better use of public resources as both drivers and riders get priority use when it is most valuable.

LAST time I checked....this ISN'T NEW YORK...and we LIKE IT THAT WAY ROUND HERE! YOU like New Yorks biking crap...jump on I-40 and catch I-95 north...I'LL PAY FOR YOUR GAS!

Yea, thats not ignorant.

can go with him....any other takers for a free one way trip back to your blessed North?

Why not just stick to the paved paths on Military Cutoff and Eastwood? When you get to one end, turn around and go back the other way. It's a more reasonable solution than expecting the city to spend our tax dollars closing and enforcing that closing of a street for a few hours every week.

I do agree though that it's very dangerous to not have a safe way of crossing from the Eastwood path to the Military Cutoff one. In fact, I think it's practically negligent for there to not be one. You are literally taking risking your life by crossing MCO, whether it be by bike or as a pedestrian. There are quite a few residential areas off MCO on the opposite side from the trail, and we have no real safe way of getting to that trail. It's practically an "attractive nuisance" if you ask me, and the city is just begging for trouble.

There are a few cyclist groups in Wilmington...
There is one group who is large.. They have bikes ranging in price to $0 to $1000 and it is a diverse crowd.. Those riders respect the road and others..
However.. These yellow Jersey's with their hoity toity riders on cycles no less than $500 ranging to $5000 wearing shirts that say Cape Fear Cyclists...
They take over the roads.. (River Road included)..
They ride in the middle of lanes, run red lights when in a large crowd, and have no respect for drivers.. or other riders for that matter...
You don't own the road, you do not have rights that drivers do not have and you are simply rude and disrespectful to other citizens driving cars, riding bicycles and your actions are going to end up getting someone accidently hurt…
You sometimes take up ¼ mile of road, riding at 25 mph in a 45 mph zone, and twice I have seen cars try to pass on River Road and almost end up in a head on collision.
You have to be insane for asking the city government to close roads we have equal rights to and pay for…
Petition for more bike lanes.. but don’t petition to inconvenience the majority of the citizens in this area..

"There is one group who is large.. They have bikes ranging in price to $0 to $1000 and it is a diverse crowd.."

Is that the Cape Fear DUI'ers?

I am an avid rider and I ride nearly everyday, but I am not sure about this idea. I think it is definetly a step in the right direction for Wilmington. Now for all you people saying that the roads were built for cars, you need to read up on your state traffic laws. The roads are public property and a cyclist has every right to use the road as a car. They must follow all traffic laws while riding, including riding in the same direction as traffic. As for slowing down traffic in a 45 mph zone, guess what, 45 is the max a car can go without breaking the law, not the min required. As a cyclist we must take responsibility for our selves, and as a driver we must be vigalent and watch out for others using the road.

Lets pretend there was a maximum speed limit on the bike paths of 20 mph (which I am estimating to be a fair average and within safety limitations). Suddenly you somehow get stuck behind a jogger and are forced to go 5 mph or swerve into the lane that is occupied by oncoming bikers, putting not only your saftey in jeopardy, but theirs as well. I'm sure you would be annoyed trying to maintain such a ridiculous speed, as would the 20 or 50 bikers that have congregated behind you. You would be saying to yourself, "this is a bike path and was designed and constructed for bikers". On top of everythign let's imagine you were not just out for a Sunday joy ride but you actually had somewhere important you were trying to get to, like WORK!!! You can say that you would be tolerant of the jogger and patiently maintain the 5 mph but we both know that's not true...

Actually, I do encounter that scenario pretty frequently. When that happens, I bide my time behind the slower pedestrians/joggers/stroller pushers until it is safe to pass. I may even dismount, jog my bike past them, and then move on. It's really not that hard to do. I think my eyesight is good enough that I can see oncoming traffic before I do things like swerve into the next lane. Even while driving, I don't think I've ever had to wait more than 30s before passing a cyclist or a scooter rider. I can certainly afford to take 30s into account when planning my commute. It's a give-and-take, and so much more pleasant on everyone when people are patient and nice, don't you think?

They already think they own River Road.

Why not treat bikes like autos? Require driver's licence, insurance and tags, and hand out citations when they don't follow the rules of the road. Then maybe they can take the money that is made off bikes and build some bike paths.

You can't take a street away from a tax payer, that would be illegal. Most of cyclist problems stem from their not following the rules of the road, riding on the same side of traffic flow, and not running red lights. I wonder if the county has any idea how much it affected business to shut down parts of Military Cutoff, to Market Street, to I-140, to 421 on the Beach to Battleship run, a couple of months ago, and how much do you think business would appreciate being forced closed, every Sunday, because of a few hundered in a county of thousands. You would have a better chance of converting everyone, and bringing back the Blue Laws!

Perhaps some of the ignorant, anti-cyclist posters might enlighten themselves by copying and pasting the following link in their web browser.

http://www.ncdot.org/transit/bicycle/laws/laws_bikelaws.html

And maybe some of the ignorant we own the road cyclist can go read that also. You are held to following all the same traffic laws as a car must. Now answer honestly, do you stop at all red lights?

Well I certainly am enlightened. I didn't think anyone who rode a bycycle knew anything about traffic laws, because they sure don't obey them.

...doesn't make every activity a wise choice.

I have a RIGHT to wear brown pants, a brown sweatshirt, let a white handkerchief hang out of my rear pocket and crawl around the woods on all fours in late October.

It wouldn't be a very smart decision.

When bicyclists insist on riding in the middle of a traffic lane doing 20 MPH under the speed limit or running red lights en masse, they are, as the old saying goes, "asking for it." I feel no sympathy when they wind up paying for their foolish decisions.

Yes, I have a RIGHT to ride my bike whenever I want to. However, I ride it between 0600 and 0800 on weekends because the road is empty.

Exercising my right WITH common sense - what a concept!

If you want to petition anything, how about trying to raise money and support for bike path expansion. It is bad enough that miles of traffic build up because cars can't get by one stupid biker doing 20 in a 45, and there is too much oncoming traffic to swerve around him or her. Here's a little food for thought...crossing the double yellow lines into oncoming traffic is not only dangerous, IT'S ILLEGAL!!! It's called "left of center" punishable by citation as a moving violation. So as if you don't have enough sense of entitlement to either hold people up or put who knows how many dozens of lives in danger, now you want to close the rodes to cars all together??? Have you lost your minds? I agree there should be more bike paths and I am all in favor of "green" transportation. Fort Collins CO is a great role model. However ROADS ARE FOR CARS and if bikes can not either maintain the speed limit or there is not a wide enough shoulder that cars need to swerve into oncoming traffic to get around them, it should be illegal for them to ride there.

Rodger,
Your statement that roads are for cars is factually incorrect. You're required by the law, the one you swore to uphold as a condition for being granted use of public roads when you got your drivers license, to give bicycles exactly the same rights and considerations as a car. If a cyclist believes their safety requires them to ride in the middle of the right hand lane, than you are required to respect that choice and stay behind them until it's safe to pass.

Taxes are levied to pay for road maintenance, and since wear and tear on a road is almost perfectly proportional to weight, the cyclists fair share of road taxes would be trivial and not worth the expense of collecting.

Furthermore, every cyclist that commutes is one less car on the road, so be grateful. Some cyclists are out there having fun, not commuting, but then they can't commute unless they get in good enough condition to ride to work routinely, so consider it an investment in your future.

The notion that your drivers license gives you the right to drive as fast as you want, whenever you want, is silly, and has never been true. Weather conditions and traffic are two obvious reasons. Guess what? Traffic includes bicycle traffic. Don't believe me? Read your DMV manual. It's right there in black and white.

Actually, road wear is proportional to the square of the axle weight. If we taxed things fairly as regards road wear and tear, there would be very few short busses out there. Err, I mean SUVs.