About the Ann Street Bicycle Boulevard:
With the help of a Fit Community 2009 grant from the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund, the City of Wilmington has constructed North Carolina’s first bicycle boulevard, which connects the historic neighborhoods of Ardmore, the Bottom, Brookwood, Carolina Place, Forest Hills and Old Wilmington to Williston Middle School, Gregory Elementary School, Fit for Fun Center, Sherridale Morgan Physical Fitness and Boxing Center, Robert Strange Park, Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center, downtown Wilmington and the Riverfront Farmers' Market
The bicycle boulevard concept, which originated in Berkeley, California, is a strategy whereby bicycles are given priority over motor vehicles on an existing roadway corridor. The bicycle boulevard involves internal policy changes, as well as infrastructure components, which include curb extensions, alley resurfacing, high-visibility crosswalks, pavement markings, and signage. As this is the first bicycle boulevard in North Carolina, it should serve as a model to stimulate Wilmington and other cities in North Carolina to construct others.
This corridor was identified during a set of public meetings conducted by the City of Wilmington Neighborhood Traffic Management Program in late 2008, as part of an area traffic-calming study. Residents expressed a desire for a safer bicycle route between their neighborhoods and the downtown area, especially to attend regular events including the Riverfront Farmers' Market and Downtown at Sundown concerts.
The Ann Street Bicycle Boulevard completes the River to the Sea Bikeway from downtown Wilmington to Wrightsville Beach, therefore making the bicycle boulevard accessible to most of Wilmington’s population. According to Census 2000 data, there are about 16,000 who live in close proximity to the Ann Street Bicycle Boulevard.
The goal of this project is to increase the number of people bicycling to the market, parks, recreation centers and schools from the neighborhoods in the downtown area. One of the primary destinations downtown on Saturdays is the Riverfront Farmers' Market, which provides an opportunity for city residents to purchase fresh local produce, seafood and meat.
Preparation includes the organization of a promotions committee which will encourage bicycling to and from the Riverfront Farmers' Market on Saturdays along the bicycle boulevard. This committee is comprised of city staff, county staff, local citizens groups, health professionals, public safety officials and other stakeholders.
Promotions and programs to be explored include: a recurring bicycle train, crossing guards, farmers market discounts, bike-friendly shopping bags, and other strategies. The City of Wilmington has also installed machines capable of accepting electronic benefit cards (EBTs) at the Riverfront Farmers' Market. The coalition will work with the New Hanover County Department of Social Services to promote the market to new applicants. The coalition will seek to increase the number of people bicycling to other destinations along the bicycle boulevard, including two schools, a large park, three recreation centers, a public swimming pool and major employers. Special pavement markings and signs funded by the city will work to promote the use of the bicycle boulevard for everyday trips.