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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Cyclists ask motorists to share the roadways

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Four local residents are biking Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington roads to train for distance bicycle challenges in a fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

As part of the JDRF Ride to Cure, participants raise a minimum of $2,000 and compete in a national bike challenge. David Massey will ride a 120-mile course in Death Valley, Calif., Oct. 18, and Stacy Johnson, Ronda Ross and Karen Traina hope to complete the 100-mile course in Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 1.

Johnson, Ross and Traina are training for the Nashville course by biking around Wrightsville Beach, Eastwood Road and Mayfaire Town Center.

“Many cyclists ride the beach roads to take advantage of long stretches and windy conditions (simulated hills for flat-landers) to build their strength and endurance to compete,” Traina said in a Sept. 10 email.

Traina said not all motorists obey traffic laws when approaching cyclists, which can cause serious consequences.

“We had an incident on the [Heide Trask Drawbridge] where a driver honked impatiently and crowded us as we rode over the metal grates,” she said.

North Carolina law states bicycles are considered to be vehicles and should be treated like vehicles by motorists [§20-4.01 (49)], [§20-171.1], [§20-171.8].

A motorist overtaking a bicycle must pass at least two feet to the left of the bicycle and must not move back to the right side of the highway until safely past the overtaken bicycle [§20-149(a)]. Furthermore, a motorist should not follow a bicycle more closely than is responsible and prudent, considering vehicle speed, amount of traffic and the road conditions [§20-152(a)].

Traina said cyclists encounter a variety of unexpected obstacles and motorists need to become conscious of them.

“Invisible to drivers are hazards that cyclists navigate — we encounter squirrels, sand, sprinklers, gravel, standing water, car doors, curbs, low-hanging branches, pedestrians, beach balls [and] potholes,” Traina said. “Every year cyclists are injured and, sadly, some are killed.”

Aug. 30, the Wilmington Police Department reported a cyclist riding eastbound in the inside lane in the 5800 block of Oleander Drive was killed after being struck by a minivan from behind.

During September and October, two major athletic competitions will feature bicycle courses on Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach roads.

The Wilmington YMCA Sprint 2014, the largest race in the AAA Car Care North Carolina Triathlon Series, is scheduled for Sept. 27 and will feature a 12-mile bike course that will take competitors over the Heide Trask Drawbridge. Oct. 25, the PPD Beach 2 Battleship triathlon will feature a 112-mile and 56-mile bike course that will take competitors from Wrightsville Beach to White Lake before returning to finish in downtown Wilmington.

Competitors like the Wilmington participants of the JDRF Ride to Cure will be training on local roads during September and October. Traina said motorists need to be aware of their responsibility to share the road.

“Those few seconds that a hurried driver might face waiting for an opportunity to pass safely cannot compare to living the rest of their lives with the burden of having harmed or killed another person,” Traina said. “In the end, though, the cyclist is more vulnerable: a human body is no match for a 4,000-pound car traveling at 30 mph.”

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