Two of the Central Park Bicycle Plan routes touch Rowan
By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — A proposed regional bicycle plan would not only map bike routes for cyclists but also help them visit local tourist sites.
About a dozen Rowan County residents learned about the Central Park Bicycle Plan and shared their feedback at the Rowan Public Library headquarters Thursday morning.
The proposed plan includes three 120- to 150-mile bicycle routes in the eight counties surrounding the Uwharrie Lakes. An existing Rowan County Bicycle Map shows favored local routes, but the Central Park Bicycle Plan is designed to bring in visitors.
“The priority goals for this project were to connect communities and people to the places they want to see and the things they want to do when they’re visiting this region,” said Hanna Cockburn, regional planning programs manager for the Piedmont Triad Regional Council.
Two of the loops would cross into eastern Rowan. One would pass through Salisbury and Spencer and go east into Davidson and Randolph counties. The other would touch Gold Hill and lead south into Stanly, Anson and Montgomery counties.
A third loop is proposed that would include Richmond and Moore counties.
The regional council is developing the plan with funding from N.C. Department of Transportation’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Division. That division also will pay for approved signs and some road improvements.
The Central Park Bicycle Plan involves more than just a route map and signs — though that’s how it started.
“NCDOT has come back to us and asked us to not only approve a series of routes but to produce a plan for improving these facilities to make them as useful as possible,” Cockburn said.
In 18 months, she said, the regional council hopes to have finished the routes, a signing plan and a road improvement plan.
Improvements could include paved shoulders, bicycle lanes in urban areas and connections to off-road trail systems like greenways. Cockburn said the help of local planning organizations would be needed to implement the plan.
“In addition, we developed a great inventory of some of points of interest for this area,” Cockburn said. “It’s things that people want to see and do when they’re visiting, but it’s also things that people need when cycling… on a longer bike route.”
That could be food, lodging, bike shops and other stores as well as cultural, historical and natural sites for tourists. The project would go beyond a printed map to a digital guide that could be used on smartphones.
“I think that’s important, because it can be current,” said Terry Taylor, of Salisbury, at the meeting. “A printed map in a year is obsolete.”
Points of interest in Rowan include Old Stone Vineyard and Winery, the N.C. Transportation Museum and Spencer Shops, Dan Nicholas Park and Tamarac Marina, along with several restaurants, golf clubs and motels.
Jerry Shelby of Salisbury said he would bring a route farther south into Cabarrus County, guiding cyclists through Mount Pleasant to Reed Gold Mine.
James Meacham, executive director of the Rowan County Tourism Development Authority, suggested extending a connector route to Patterson Farms, Lazy 5 Ranch and Sloan Park.
Dan Mikkelson, Salisbury city engineer, agreed. He said the tourism authority is working on promoting and marketing two specific corridors.
One is Bringle Ferry Road from Salisbury to south of Dan Nicholas Park, which is already included in one of the regional routes. The other is U.S. 150.
Salisbury residents Pat and John Murtaugh said U.S. 150 is too narrow and too busy to be a good bike route. Mikkelson agreed.
Rowan County Planning Director Ed Muire said Old Beatty Ford Road should not be added to the plan, even though it’s a recommended route in the county guide.
Cockburn said some roads could be improved to make them suitable for cyclists.
“We are looking for a way to somehow get one of the bike loops to get up to this end of the map,” Mikkelson said, pointing to western Rowan County. “Getting a route that gets us to this general area for agritourism would be very consistent with this plan.”
For more information or plan maps, visit www.ptcog.org and follow the top menu to Planning Services, Transportation/Pedestrian, RPO and Projects.
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