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How bicycle friendly is Wilmington?

Amy Hotz

This is another one of those questions that is left up to the beholder.

This past summer, I traveled large parts of most of the bike trails in the Wilmington area. I wouldn’t say Wilmington isn’t bicycle friendly. But it seemed that every trail had its scary parts. I was particularly worried while crossing Market Street to get to Brookwood Avenue on New Hanover County’s “UNCW Route.” I interviewed bicyclists who use the Cross City Trail to visit Wrightsville Beach and they dreaded crossing Military Cut Off at Eastwood Road.

But the planning is there. Parts of the trails designated by the city and county are very pleasant to ride through, including the new paved multi-use trail portion along Eastwood Road and a good part of the River-to-Sea trail. I had one lady approach me at a shopping center and say she thought Wilmington was very bicycle friendly and that she uses the back roads every day.

More trails are planned for the area, including one that would stretch the length of Carolina Beach.

To see maps of the trails and get a feel for where the safe and not-so-safe portions are, go to these Web sites:

Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization: www.wmpo.org/WMBPC/index.html

New Hanover County and City of Wilmington bike trails (and other links): www.nhcgov.com/AgnAndDpt/PLNG/Pages/BAC.aspx

To see some articles on the trails go to:

UNCW Route: www.starnewsonline.com/article/20090602/ARTICLES/906024005

Cross-City trail: www.starnewsonline.com/article/20080829/COLUMNISTS/808290337

River-to-Sea Bikeway: www.starnewsonline.com/article/20090401/ARTICLES/904014009

User-contributed question by:
Sam Fleishman

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3 Responses to “ How bicycle friendly is Wilmington?”

  1. On November 3, 2009 at 4:50 pm Braxton Williams wrote:

    I think Wilmington is recreationally-bike friendly, like with park trails and such, but as for transportationally-bike friendly, it rates an F. I wouldn’t ride my bike down Wrightsville Avenue from downtown to the beach for ten thousand dollars, and the same goes for most of the streets in Wilmington.

  2. On November 4, 2009 at 12:35 pm Tse-Lynn wrote:

    I wouldn’t say it’s extremely connected like in Boulder or Copenhagen, but it is possible to commute by bike if you look hard for alternate routes to busy streets and ride defensively (good night lights, reflective attire, and helmets!). That said, I cheer whenever we make progress on bicycle facilities in this city. There have been efforts made, I love the Eastwood bike path, and I would really hope to see all these individual pieces connected as a seamless whole in the not too distant future.

  3. On November 4, 2009 at 3:36 pm Anthony King wrote:

    My standard for “bike friendly” is whether a parent would feel safe putting a small child in a seat on her bicycle to do her daily errands–groceries, bank, park, etc. Wilmington is fortunate to have a downtown with built in traffic calming features (short blocks, lots of pedestrian and cyclists for motorists to look out for, which mean they keep their speed down). Unfortunately, outside of downtown the infrastructure is designed to move cars rapidly from one place to another, making those streets unwelcoming for people on bikes. There is a lot of potential in Wilmington–great weather and flat topography make riding physically easier than most places. But too many destinations are easily accessible solely by high speed roads that few cyclists would feel safe on, much less people who are not avid cyclists but would like to use their bicycle to run some errands. Providing a way for people to safely and comfortable use their bicycles as everyday transportation would increase the numbers of riders–and reduce traffic problems in the city–considerably.

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