Wise to invest in safety

Published 7:21 pm Friday, May 4, 2018

To the Editor:
After having another incredibly nice weekend pedaling through sections of Beaufort County and enjoying the hospitality of the people and places of Washington, I would like to say thank you to all of the people who gave of their time and energy to welcome nearly 2,000 cyclists to your area.

Cyclists from around the country and some from other countries enjoyed your hospitality and support. The planning and preparations that went into ensuring a safe and enjoyable weekend did not go unnoticed. Almost half of the visitors camped at the waterfront and others rented homes and hotel rooms, everyone seemed to enjoy the town’s activities, bakeries, restaurants, shops and cultural sights. Many will return on other days with and without bicycles because of the positive impression Beaufort County put forth.

The CNC weekend has proven itself year after year to be an economic goldmine for eastern North Carolina, with an estimated stimulus of over $2 million spent locally on gas, food, rooms, events and gifts. With this much of a positive impact on the local economy, is it too much to ask for some of those funds to be invested into improving the safety of cycling in Washington and the surrounding area? I have been to several these events, often ride in the area, and I estimate that I have personally spent thousands of dollars on these trips. Year after year, however, I see little to no increase in the local infrastructure to increase or support safer local cycling.

You have an amazing bike shop that sponsors events and supports visiting cyclists in all sizes of groups. Yet year after year, visit after visit, I still see few roads as having bike lanes, an extremely limited number of safety traffic signs reminding people to share the road or pass with care, no county bike plan or city map, few if any bike racks for secure parking at any businesses in town or city sponsored activities promoting cycling.

I enjoy visiting Washington, Bath and the surrounding area but wonder where to wisely spend my bicycle dollars. Other towns and cities realize the strong health, environmental, and economic benefits to supporting safer cycling for events such as the CNC ride, the upcoming ride for Rose Haven, touring cyclists, as well as every day riders, and they are building complete streets, bike lanes and greenways that are safe and accessible for all users, not just those who operate motor vehicles. Washington and Beaufort County, as well as local businesses, would be wise to invest some of those recent profits into visibly significantly improving the cycling experience or risk losing future business as cyclists migrate to safer and better localities.

I look forward to see what you do for cycling with the money we left behind on my next pedal through your area.

Steven Hardy-Braz