Letter to the Editor: Can we finish the job?

Published 2:10 pm Monday, November 1, 2021

To the Editor,

As a frequent cyclist in and all around Washington, I was excited to feel the smooth new asphalt along Highway 17.  The repaving on the road makes using my bicycle to shop, eat out, run errands, and visit friends much smoother if not much safer.  I, along with others who pedal our vehicles instead of driving multi-ton motorized vehicles, would still have to be mindful of inattentive, distracted drivers who most likely are exceeding the set maximum speed limits and often have a perspective of privileged priority over our shared roads.  Although car drivers are supposed to change lanes completely or pass no closer than four feet in non passing zones, many drivers continue to bully their way along our streets and pass far closer than is comfortable or safe.  Imagine my surprise when I see the beginnings of what appears to be future dedicated bicycle lanes painted along a short portion of Highway 17.  While it appears to be outlined to be bike lanes, they remained unfinished with any decals, signage, or anything identifying them as such.  They remain half-done and thus wholly unsafe.  Although the city of Washington is not officially (yet?) one of NC’s Bicycle Friendly Communities it is host to a great bike shop, home of many types of cyclists, at the crossroads of official state bicycle routes, along the pathway of the East Coast Greenway, a frequent destination for many cyclists, and frequently host to thousands of cyclists who participate in the coastal ride sponsored by Cycle North Carolina every three years.  Over 1,200 cyclists will be returning to Washington to ride around Beaufort and Pitt Counties this coming week and weekend.  When these guests are not out pedaling our beautiful part of the state, they’ll be eating, drinking, shopping, and soaking up Washington experiences.  How we treat them may determine how much and how often they return to support our local economy.  Give that NC is one of the last states in the country to have a contributory negligence policy, an uncompleted future bike lane remains unusable.  So before Washington hosts a thousand plus cyclists coming to see and ride in our town, can we finish the job and complete these bike lanes or will we show them a halfway completed, unusable, waste that remains dangerous to use?

Steven Hardy-Braz