Cyclist questions sidewalk uses

Published 6:06 pm Tuesday, August 6, 2019

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

As tensions increase before the Smithfield Town Council’s anticipated vote concerning a sidewalk versus an asphalt path for its portion of the Park-to-Park trail, some concerns have been brought to the newspaper’s attention. 

Kevin Arden questioned the construction of a sidewalk, citing the town ordinance that prohibits riding bicycles on sidewalks in town. 

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Arden may have used the town ordinance from 1982. It was revised in 2007 and 2008 to state that riding bicycles is prohibited on sidewalks only when deemed that way by an order of the Town Council and currently that is restricted to portions of Main Street from Commerce Drive to Grace Street. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The ordinance states that signs are in place to let residents know of the restriction. 

The town bases its ordinance on the Code of Virginia, which allows localities to restrict the use of sidewalks, but states they shall post signs indicating the prohibition. 

There are signs along Main Street in Smithfield indicating that riding bicycles, skateboards and rollerblades are not allowed. 

Those signs are not posted along South Church Street, which has sidewalks along its entire length, except for the portion under consideration, from Battery Park Road to the Cypress Creek Bridge. 

One of the reasons that a sidewalk is being considered is the width of an asphalt multi-use path and its impact on properties located along South Church Street, particularly businesses. The asphalt path constructed along Battery Park Road as part of the Park-to-Park trail is 8-feet wide due to roadway constraints, but the path along Nike Park Road will be 10-feet, according to Isle of Wight Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson.  

The amount of right-of-way for a five-foot sidewalk is roughly 12-feet from the edge of the roadway, and is about 17-feet for the 10-foot asphalt path, according to VDOT.

However, the ultimate width would depend upon what is already present, such as curbing and gutters, the speed limit of the roadway, and other considerations, according to VDOT. 

The Town Council recently held a town hall to get input on one of six options. The sidewalk option earned 35 votes, as opposed to 30 for the asphalt path — both along South Church Street. 

There is about a million dollar difference in the two options, with the sidewalk coming in at an estimated $2.5 million and the wider asphalt path at $3.3 million, according to consultant, Kimley-Horn. 

There has also been some discussion on how to characterize the trail, with supporters wanting it called a “multi-use” trail, while others call it a bike and pedestrian trail, and still others simply say bike trail. 

Trail supporters say not calling it a multi-use trail is misleading because it allows for other activities other than bicycles. 

Robertson said it is predominately a bike and pedestrian trail, and motorized vehicles are not allowed. However, there is little distinction on the posted sign addressing horses, skateboards, roller blades and other wheeled devices. 

Motorized wheelchairs are allowed, said Robertson.  

The Park-to-Park Trail, to run from Carrollton Nike Park to Windsor Castle Park is open for use on the portion that runs along Battery Park Road. Isle of Wight County is currently building the portion along Nike Park Road, which will include a bridge across Jones Creek.  {/mprestriction}