I grew up in the Hampton Roads area and my parents still live there. My husband and I have been considering riding in Pungo the past few months. My friend, Joel, sent me this article from the area. I would really appreciate if educated and articulate cyclists would respond to the comments people have posted which seem to be mostly from irate drivers.
Cyclists have fallen in love with Pungo and its scenic rural roads.
But the feeling isn’t necessarily mutual.
Pedalers and the residents who live in southern Virginia Beach have been at odds in recent years. Bicyclists complain that drivers have purposely brushed by them or tried to edge them off the road. Residents grouse that the bikers sometimes ride in packs, block traffic and litter.
Now, a mildly worded resolution that supports cyclists is drawing controversy. The resolution, backed by Councilwoman Rosemary Wilson, encourages city staff to consider cyclists when they design road repavement or maintenance projects.
Paving an additional 2 -foo t-wide stretch of city right-of-way for cyclists would cost $80,000 a mile, Wilson said.
“To me, it’s a common-sense safety idea,” Wilson said. “At least if it’s wider, it’s safer.”
Wilson had planned to introduce the resolution at last week’s City Council meeting. But it met objections from Councilwoman Barbara Henley, who lives in the Pungo area and represents the Princess Anne District.
The Beach’s Agricultural Advisory Commission will now review the resolution before the council considers it. The commission is scheduled to discuss the proposal on Monday.
“Are we really intending every roadway in the city to be a bike and trailway?” Henley asked. “I don’t know if that’s the right thing.”
The roads around Pungo are narrow and barely can accommodate the cars and trucks added by residential growth, Henley said.
The city shouldn’t encourage cycling on roads that aren’t safe, she added.
“We’ve got to have a reality check here,” Henley said. “If it’s a substandard road, and there are people who have no choice but to be on the roads, what do you do when people want to use the roads for recreation? It’s not ‘Do you like bikers or do you not like bikers?’ It’s a safety issue.”
For Chris Logan, a Kempsville resident, Pungo is the safest place in Virginia Beach to ride a bike because the roads aren’t clogged with cars and trucks.
“I’m not going to ride my bike down Indian River Road,” he said. “The law says I have as much right to be on the road as they do.”
Logan cycles through Pungo about three times a week and also participates in the organized rides put on by several local bike clubs and stores.
These rides have fueled some of the backlash from the community.
“It used to be cute 10 years ago to see a few bicyclists on a Sunday,” said Gene Hansen, president of the Back Bay-Pungo Civic League. “Now they’re out in the mornings and out midday.”
Many Pungo residents don’t let their children ride their bikes from one farm to another because the roads are too dangerous, and having the cyclists here adds to their concern, Hansen said.
The next civic league meeting, set for March, will be dedicated to the issue of sharing the road with cyclists, said Hansen, who supports the resolution.
Tom Coghill, president of the Tidewater Bicycle Association, said Wilson’s resolution would be the first step in making roads safer for bikers and drivers.
“It gives us a place to ride, and nobody will be nervous,” Coghill said.
Deirdre Fernandes, (757) 222-5121, firstname.lastname@example.org