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Back You are here: Home Opinion Opinion Section Editorials Editorial: Multi-Use Path In Carolina Beach Needs Trimming

Editorial: Multi-Use Path In Carolina Beach Needs Trimming

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

The Town of Carolina Beach should rethink their plans to install multi-use (bike and walking) paths along Clarendon Avenue and Cape Fear Blvd. (See report on page 1-A.)
Those streets are not heavily utilized by the public and don't require paths paved in asphalt off the road in people's front yards intersecting their drive ways buffered from traffic in some places by trees planted in the Town's right of way.
That's creating a whole new road surface and accessory landscaping for the taxpayers to fund maintenance and upkeep in addition to the already expensive roads they border.
This multi-use path plan was born out of an infrastructure project to renovate and replace aging water and sewer lines in the residential areas of town.
Since the roads will be torn up as a result of the underground utility improvements, the powers that be saw fit to take the opportunity to repave the roads and add multi-use paths along the side.
Such is the popular order of the day to add “bike paths” to promote safe routes for people riding bikes with their kids.
This issue raises the question. Carolina Beach installed sidewalks throughout the downtown area many decades ago.
Since that time those sidewalks have aged, look less than desirable and are in need of serious repair. Yet those sidewalks go unattended year after year because other expenses take priority or the repairs are just too expensive.
What confidence can the Town instill in the public to assure us that “multi-use” bike and walking paths will not fall victim to the same long-term neglect the Town has exhibited for sidewalks over the years?
Here's a simple solution. Roads will be replaced before multi-use paths. So why not abandon the idea of creating a separate asphalt path and simply widen the asphalt road and paint a white line down the side to denote a “multi-use path”.
The argument that it would be unsafe lacks realistic common sense. After all, when was the last time the police responded to a collision between a bike and a vehicle on Clarendon Avenue, 5th Street or Cape Fear Blvd?
None that I can locate in our archives.
Canal Drive and Carolina Beach Avenue North both have bike paths located on the side marked by a painted line. The same for Fort Fisher Blvd in Kure Beach.
If someone can point out a rash (numerous incidents) of bike and vehicle collisions attributed directly to vehicles not being able to see a pedestrian walking or riding a bike, please let us know.
I can't imagine that adding a multi-use path to the side of the road would help mitigate the ignorance of people that can't naturally stay out of the way of moving vehicles by traveling inside of an area separate by a painted line rather than hundreds of thousands of dollars upfront and thousands of dollars a year to maintain an asphalt path separate from the road with it's own maintenance costs.
It’s no wonder many people at the January 8th, meeting were not all warm and fuzzy about the plan.
They're not thrilled about a 10-foot wide asphalt path running through their front yards and driveways.
It would likely be more appealing for property owners if the Town installed a 10-foot wide concrete sidewalk along the edge of the road with curb and gutter for drainage. That's a more normal appearance that people are used to seeing for pedestrian areas on the roadside.
Council should take another look before proceeding.