May is National Bike Month and City of Greenville officials are advocating for better conditions for bikers and pedestrians around the city.
According to the League of American Bicyclist website, National Bike Month started in 1956 and is still celebrated by people all over the United States as a way to generate support for bikers and create enthusiasm for biking.
Mayor of Greenville, P.J. Connelly, said Greenville has taken various measures to ensure bike and pedestrian safety in the community.
40 percent of costs for sidewalks in future road projects, which are currently being planned by North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), will be contributed, according to Connelly. He said the city is also asking for these projects include bike lanes.
Another precautionary measure Connelly said the city has taken is the addition of rectangular rapid flashing beacons at crosswalks on Charles Boulevard, by The Bower apartment complex and beside the Boundary apartments.
Connelly said the city continues to promote safety tips for pedestrians and motorists through their communication methods, making the streets near the university area safer for pedestrians commuting around campus on foot or by bike.
“With assistance from ECU, there was a increased police presence and monitoring of crosswalks in the university area during the school year,” Connelly said.
Other strategies continue to be discussed as part of the Traffic Safety Task Force, according to Connelly and the Greenville Police Department.
According to Kristen Hunter, GPD Public Information Officer, the Traffic Safety Task Force is a group comprised of members from GPD, Greenville Public Works, Vidant Health, East Carolina University and NCDOT. Their mission is to improve traffic safety in the city and reduce the number of crashes and injuries resulting from crashes in the city.
Connelly said Greenville is aware of strategies and initiatives regarding road safety and will continue to renovate the city to accommodate all commuters.
“The city of Greenville is focused on investing in bike and pedestrian safety initiatives and we will continue to look at ways to further improve the current modes of transportation available in our community,” Connelly said.
Bike Pitt commissioner, Tony Parker, said Greenville can be safe for bikers and pedestrians in certain areas, but not everywhere. He said he believes the city is making astounding improvements compared to the past, but there is still work to be done.
According to Parker, there are some Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance issues, making it difficult for people who are not mobile to use certain sidewalks in the city.
“The areas that need improvement are some of the major arteries, and some of the major intersections that we have,” Parker said.
Parker said these issues could be solved by investing more in the city’s infrastructure and raising awareness in the community.
According to Parker, people need to understand and realize that people bike and walk not just for fun, but also for crucial everyday activities. He gave examples such as getting to work, getting to school, and checking on their families.
“It’s not just recreational people that are out there biking and walking, it’s people who actually have no other choice,” Parker said. “That’s what we have to look at, if we’re going to take care of our city we need to take care of those of us who can’t afford to or will not drive.”
The best advice Parker offered to drivers on the road in regards to protecting bikers is to try riding a bike for themselves to understand what bikers go through and to try to be aware of their surroundings.
Another precaution for drivers to take when operating a vehicle, according to Parker, is putting down their cell phone and avoid being distracted while driving to protect themselves, pedestrians and bikers.
Parker said he hopes the main point people take away from bike month is that biking is fun. He said he encourages people to try taking a bike ride on the greenway or even try biking to work.
“Adults get to the point where they forget how much fun it is to have that freedom on a bicycle,” Parker said.