Visitors' Bureau, Sports Council pushing county bike routes

ndunn@newsobserver.comJune 6, 2014 

The Johnston County Visitors Bureau is mapping bike routes to Johnston County destinations.

The routes, which would use local streets and state roads, are subject to approval by the N.C. Department of Transportations. And to help win that approval, the Visitors Bureau is seeking support from towns with proposed bike routes.

The plan calls for four large loops that would use signs to direct cyclists through downtown districts and past historic sites, restaurants and shops.

One loop would connect Clayton, Archer Lodge and Wilson’s Mills. Another would link Smithfield and the Bentonville community. Also on the map are a Benson-area loop and a Pine Level-Micro-Kenly loop.

Proposed stops include the Tobacco Farm Life Museum in Kenly, Sam Godwin Municipal Park in Pine Level, Gregory Vineyards near McGee’s Crossroads, Hinnant Family Vineyards near Pine Level, Buffalo Creek Greenway in Smithfield, Bentonville Battlefield and East Clayton Community Park, Sam’s Branch Greenway and the Clayton Riverwalk on the Neuse, all in Clayton.

The route’s would avoid heavily traveled roads. For example, the proposed Clayton-Archer Lodge-Wilson’s Mills loop would send cyclists along Covered Bridge Road to Archer Lodge. From there, they would use Thanksgiving, Little Divine and Fire Department roads to reach Wilson’s Mills. The route from there to Clayton would use Powhatan Road, Glen Laurel Road and N.C. 42 East.

Donna Bailey-Taylor, executive director of the Visitors bureau, said the routes would cater to a growing cycling community in Johnston County.

“We do have a lot of cyclists coming here for recreation and using our roadways on weekends, most heavily on Saturday mornings,” Bailey-Taylor said. “We have created organized routes that tie in some of the visitor attractions that are on safer roads.”

Bailey-Taylor is asking the affected towns and county government to endorse the routes. Assuming that happens, the county would formally ask the DOT to adopt the loops and add them to the County Transportation Plan, said Johnston County planner Kevin Sigmon.

If the DOT approves the routes, the Visitors Bureau plans to market the loops through the Internet, brochures and local cycling groups like the Selma Cyclepaths.

Bailey-Taylor said the DOT’s Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation would install the signs along the routes. The ultimate goal, she said, is to have bike lanes along the roads that make up the routes.

Clayton Chamber of Commerce President Jim Godfrey is chairman of the Johnston County Sports Council, which has operated under the Visitors Bureau since 2012. Godfrey said the bike routes were the council’s first project.

The group is now creating a report on all recreation facilities in Johnston County, “not only to look at what we have but to take a look at what we need to have in the future,” Godfrey said.

Archer Lodge planning and zoning administrator Bob Clark said the proposed route into his town would be convenient to riders. “The ultimate mapping and promotional mapping will indicate the location of the Archer Lodge Community Center, which is a pretty logical place to stop in town,” he said.

Some towns, including Smithfield and Clayton, have already adopted resolutions in support of the bike routes. The Archer Lodge Town Council is expected to vote on a resolution this summer.

 

Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104

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