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Back You are here: Home Opinion Opinion Section Editorials Editorial: Multi-Use Paths On Cape Fear & Clarendon

Editorial: Multi-Use Paths On Cape Fear & Clarendon

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

I'm not aware of a high rate of vehicle and bicycle collisions on Pleasure Island. But evidently the Town of Carolina Beach believes that in order to provide "safe routes" for citizens, we need more off-street bike paths.
How did little Suzy and Johnny ever survive the last 50+ years without bike paths to keep them nice and safe along quiet residential streets with 25 mph speed limits?
For example, the Town is moving forward to obtain financing to build two 10' wide multi-use paths. One on Clarendon Avenue and the other on Cape Fear Blvd. They are replacing aging infrastructure lines and decided since the roads will be torn up anyway, why not go ahead and put in paths.
These will be asphalt and separated from the street with a grass area. On Cape Fear they'll add trees and pretty lights. (Oh, and residents will still have to mow it on their own.) Sure, it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (See page 1-A) but that's ok, they have an excellent track record maintaining the streets and sidewalks throughout Town; right?
No. They don't. And "they" means countless administrations over the decades. Because once government puts in a sidewalk in this Town, it's left to the elements. Look at the downtown areas. With the exception of some newer additions, most sidewalks look horrible.
Fast forward 15 or 20 years from now when these new multi-use paths are cracked, bulging from tree roots underneath and in need of serious replacement, and see if they get fixed any faster than the countless pot holes and road cuts that currently litter streets throughout Town. Paths along high-volume roads such as Dow Road make perfect sense. 55mph traffic and bikes don't mix.
But on most quiet residential streets in Town, speed limits are at most 25mph and I see people walking, riding bikes and pushing strollers all the time. Not diving into a ditch every time a car drives by out of sheer terror.
Leaders like to accomplish projects. That's great!
In this case, perhaps the Town should calculate the cost of simply widening those streets on either side and painting lines to mark bike lanes verses the additional cost of a separate asphalt path, trees, lighting and associated annual maintenance and eventual replacement costs. The only reason this proposal exists is because they are replacing aging infrastructure that's needed replacing for decades.