This photo, taken by another rider today, sums up why we need greenways — off-road trails like the East Coast Greenway that serve cyclists, runners, walkers and others of all ages and ability.
Look at that intersection. Wide roads, no bike lanes. How many would cross it on a bike? And with children?
And once we got past intersections like that, we were on roads that sometimes had tiny shoulders.
If people speeding by in their cars thought all these cyclists were nuts, would you blame them?
One rider in our group is a distributor for a major bike brand and says he’s not surprised by the poor bicycle infrastructure around here. Even in beach towns, there’s not a culture of bicycling to the beach, unlike, say. the Jersey Shore. And he doesn’t have a bike store between Wilmington and Savannah selling his brand aside from one in Charleston.
What did look familiar? People trying to slow down traffic in front of their homes. Beyond those commercially available red “Drive like your kids live here” signs, these two homemade signs in front of one house caught my eye (but probably not those speeding):
And today’s ride? All roads. The plan had been to ride East Coast Greenway trails in Wilmington, then follow the beach south to Fort Fisher, catch a ferry for a few miles to Southport and then make a big loop inland to cross a river before heading to the beach again.
Many of us were looking forward to the ferry ride. Only the state transportation department, which runs the ferry, decided that today and tomorrow (Columbus Day) was a perfect time for maintenance. And we couldn’t come up with a replacement service. So no ferry ride. (Shades of my first WAY tour in 2014 when the boats didn’t show then either!) Instead we were shuttled across a bicycle-unfriendly bridge and started riding a few miles outside Wilmington.
The flip side is that today was a 62-mile day instead of the 70 miles that had been billed. It was hot and humid, so a bit less is good as those of us from up north adjust to Carolina weather. Got to keep remembering to reapply sunscreen, including under the edge of my bike shorts (shorts ride up when you sit and that’s where the rash from too much sun shows up).