The first bike corral located in a City of Wilmington park was installed Wednesday evening in Greenfield Lake Park.
The corral, an on-street structure for bicycle parking, is located in the parking lot near the tennis courts at 302 Willard St. Three parking spots were removed to install the locally made corral, which is made up of two racks that can hold up to 10 bikes each at one time.
The majority of the money for the bike corral was donated by the Terry Benjey Bicycling Foundation, a non-profit started to honor the legacy and continue the vision of a revered local cyclist. Benjey, who died from injuries sustained during a cycling accident in 2013, was one of the founding members of the Cape Fear Cyclists bicycle club.
“He was a key mover and shaker for cyclists in this area for more than 30 years,” said Al Schroetel, president of the foundation. “We thought this would be a good way to honor him.”
Schroetel said Benjey sought to promote the use of bicycles for transportation, recreation and physical fitness, and both the foundation and CFC, which are two separate organizations “attached at the hip,” are trying to further that vision.
“Part of our goal is to have facilities that make it easier and better to cycle,” said Schroetel, who is also the advocacy chair for CFC. “This corral will be the model for all future ones in the city.”
According to Schroetel, Greenfield Lake Park was chosen for a couple of reasons.
“Our weekly Sunday ride starts here,” Schroetel said. “And the park is here, so people can ride their bikes to the park and use the corral instead of driving.”
City of Wilmington Parks Supervisor Philip Pope said it will be the first of several the city hopes to install in their greenspaces, although the program will be rolled out slowly.
“We’re really excited about this,” Pope said. “There are no more planned at this time, because we wanted to focus on this first one, but we’re hoping it will open the door for more.”
During a short speech dedicating the corral, Pope thanked the Terry Benjey Bicycling Foundation for working with the city on the project.
“It’s truly visionary, like Terry Benjey himself, to see the need to provide [this amenity] … in a park setting,” Pope said.
The corral is third such bicycle parking area within city limits. The first was installed on North 4th Street in downtown Wilmington in late April. It is part of a larger push by local officials to make both the city and New Hanover County more pedestrian and bicycle friendly by building multi-use paths, like the nearly complete Gary Shell Cross-City Trail, and adding facilities such as more bicycle parking in strategic locations.
The installation also comes on the heels of National Bike Month, celebrated each May across the country. During that time, May 16 to May 22 was designated as National Bike to Work Week. According to a news release from the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization, which collects data on the event in the Cape Fear Area, 254 people from 46 employers participated this year. Led by New Hanover Regional Medical Center and New Hanover County, who had the largest number of participants (31 and 25, respectively), local employees biked 6,882 miles (an average of 27 per rider) and saved an estimated 344 gallons of gas and nearly $4,000 in commuting costs. Health benefits include about 344,000 calories burned collectively among all riders.
In May, Wilmington was also designated a Bike Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.
“This award is presented only to communities that have shown a significant commitment to bicycling,” the city said in a news release, noting the ways the city has taken steps to become easier and safer for cyclists to navigate.
Wilmington joins 11 other cities in North Carolina such as Asheville, Charlotte and Durham to be recognized as a Bike Friendly Community.