NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — The New Bern Area Metropolitan Planning Organization presented information on a project to update the city’s bicycle and pedestrian plan.
That presentation took place at Tuesday night’s Board of Aldermen meeting. The goal is to connect New Bern’s entertainment, retail and residential areas to make the city more walkable and bikeable.
“Connecting our retail corridors with safe infrastructure for bike and ped movements is going to be huge, and the ability for people to leave their house and leave their hotel and walk to a restaurant or shopping or to get to some of the outlying areas of New Bern that we can’t currently do,” said Kimberly Maxey, New Bern MPO administrator.
Maxey said the city’s current bike and pedestrian plan is 12 years old. The new plan will aim to establish a primary bike and pedestrian loop around the city with other branches to connect neighborhoods and retail areas.
“It’s been proven that when you improve infrastructure you do improve the ability for people to visit and move around, so it definitely would be a benefit I think for any sort of retail or tourist revenue,” she said.
Officials also want to get rid of what they call ‘sidewalks to nowhere.’
“If you notice when you’re around town ya know some of the new ordinances require new residential developments or new retail developments to add sidewalks,” said Maxey. “You’ve got a lot of sidewalks to nowhere, so we’re hoping that this plan will sort of identify some of those gaps and work to increase connectivity.”
Maxey said New Bern is a beautiful place to walk and bike around, but the infrastructure to do that doesn’t currently exist.
“MLK (Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard), that’s one of our main retail corridors and there’s no sidewalks, no walking paths, no bicycle lanes, no nothing,” she said. “That’s a real detriment for our citizens, so ultimately we would like to connect all of our areas of New Bern.”
Maxey said she expects the plan to be completed by March of 2022. It will then be up to New Bern leaders to decide how they want to move forward.