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Residents ponder bike trail sites

Where would bikers most like to travel along the shores of Lake Norman?
That was one of the questions before a handful of residents last Wednesday night at the east Lincoln Community Center.
A 150-mile bicycle trail that would encircle the entire Lake Norman shoreline has been proposed.
Four residents of east Lincoln hovered over a proposed map for a bike trail and exchanged ideas.
One of the main problems for biking is that there are no bike lanes, said Denver resident Nancy Bonetti.
“My biggest concern is safety,” she said.
Several residents also pointed out the dangerous roads in east Lincoln, and others mentioned places that the trail should go by.
“Graham Road is a nice road – the traffic is not that bad,” Bonetti said.
She also remarked on some of the highlights on N.C. 16, such as Sugar Buzz Pastry Shop.
“That way people can get a cup of coffee and get a sugar fix for their ride,” she said.
Residents also questioned whether the bike trail would run beside Beattys Ford Park, a park which will soon be completed off of Unity Church Road.
Cynthia Jones, a resident of Denver, reminded the gathering of a trail at the Florence Soule Shanklin Memorial library.
“There is a beautiful garden with trails there,” Jones said.
Other places mentioned were historical sites such as Rock Springs Campground on Campground Road.
“There are wonderful old homes in that area. I love taking that road,” Bonetti said. “It goes over the Catawba River and Lake Norman several times.”
Other roads mentioned were Little Egypt Road, mainly passing by Verdict Ridge Country Club.
Blair Israel, regional planner with Centralina Council of Governments, said nothing about the bike trail has been firmed up yet.
“It’s not a plan, it’s an idea,” he said.
So far, Duke Power has donated $2,500 to the project and Centralina has agreed to match this.
Although the project is only in the preliminary stages, Israel seeked input from the public Wednesday night on who should be involved at making this project a success.
Residents suggested local groups such as the East Lincoln Betterment Association, the Denver/Lake Norman Rotary Club, the Westport Community Association and homeowner’s associations such as Sailview, Cowan’s Ford and Hunter’s Bluff.
The idea for a bike trail on Lake Norman initially started in 2000 by Frank Johnson, who used to be an N.C. Department Of Transportation board member. Johnson wanted something for everyone on the lake to enjoy.
His plan is to use low-volume roads, make improvements to busier roads and develop off-road connectors between residential areas.
GIS Global Information System at N.C. DOT helped map out an outline of where the trail could run.
Some projects are already helping branch off the idea.
The N.C. Moving Ahead Program, started by Gov. Mike Easley, is allowing the modernization for highways to occur. This will mean wider lanes.
COG is also working towards making the trail a reality through its Sustainable Environment for Quality of Life program by approaching the issue of connectivity.
“I think a lot of people when they think of bicycles they think recreation,” Israel said. “But it also can mean transportation.”
by Amy Wadsworth

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