Bicycling at the Beaches

    Beach Bike

    Contributed by Bill Brobst, Wheels of Dare Bicycle Club

    The Outer Banks is flat, with the only “hills” being a few bridges. You’ll see yellow “Bicycles – Share the Road” signs all through Currituck County on US-158, NC- 168, NC-12, and NC-34. There is almost always a wind, 5-15 mph, blowing in your face (whichever way you’re going)! When the wind is from the east, it blows up some salt spray, so the bikes need a good bath after they leave the Outer Banks. A quiet bike ride through the residential areas of the Currituck Outer Banks will show you a sample of why so many people have chosen to live at the beach.

    For leisure family riding, especially with children, multi-use (bike) paths are available in most of the Currituck beach areas for slower-paced touring or for a relaxing afternoon ride. They are paved separate routes which wind along parallel to the highways or through wooded and residential areas. Some of them connect you from village to village without having to share the road at all with the motor vehicle traffic. The paved side streets in Corolla are quite safe and fun to explore; traffic is usually very light.

    For faster and more experienced riders, there are many wide paved shoulders to provide separation between cyclists and motor vehicle traffic. Fast cyclists are cautioned about using the multi-purpose paths because of the presence of walkers, joggers, roller-bladers, and children on bicycles. The shoulders of the roads might be a better choice when the foot traffic is heavier than the road traffic. Be sure to ride on the right, not on the left.

    For folks with beach cruisers and mountain bikes, you might want to venture north of Corolla for a ride on the sand, but only at low tide when the sand is hard. It’s 15 miles to the Virginia state line, and you can explore the villages of Carova Beach and Swan Beach. Just beyond the Virginia state line is False Cape State Park. There is a sand access road leading north from north Corolla through the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge into the Swan Beach area, but the sand is soft and not suitable for bicycles.

    Whatever you do, be sure to pick up a detailed map of the Outer Banks so you can find the various tourist attractions and bike routes. You can get one in advance, along with other tourist information, from the Currituck County Department of Travel and Tourism, P. O. Box 39, Currituck, NC 27929; phone 877-287-7488. Or stop by one of our Visitor’s Centers; there is one in Moyock on NC-168, just inside the NC-VA state line; phone 252-435-2947. Another visitor’s center is in Corolla, just off NC-12 at 500 Hunt Club Drive, 252-453-9612. Or e-mail us at info@visitcurrituck.com.

    For information on the Dare County and Hyde County portions of the Wright Brothers Bikeway, south of the Currituck Outer Banks, contact the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau in Dare County at 252-473-2138, or visit their website at www.outerbanks.org, and follow the links to “activities,” “land activities,” and “bicycling.”

    You can also stop at one of the several Outer Banks Visitors Centers in Dare County and pick up a free copy of the official NCDOT Dare County Bicycle Map of the Outer Banks (including the Currituck Outer Banks) to work out your own cycling plans. You may call the OBX Visitors Bureau if you want one in advance.

    Click Here for more information on Cycling on the Outer Banks.

    Knotts Island & Mainland Bicycling

    Contributed by Bill Brobst, Wheels of Dare Bicycle Club

    Knotts Island

    Knotts Island is a unique rural environment in northeastern Currituck County, with much of its land devoted to vineyards. It is the home of the Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge. It is actually detached from North Carolina, surrounded by water on three sides, and bordering only on Virginia’s Pungo area of southern Virginia Beach. It’s not really an island at all, but it just has no direct road access from other parts of North Carolina. Access to Knotts Island is only by either roadway from Virginia or a free ferry from the village of Currituck. Its good roads have little traffic but not much logistical support (i.e., far from bike shops). NC-615 (NC-DOT Bicycle Route 4) runs north from the ferry’s Knotts Landing five miles into Virginia, with some small and interesting side streets. Bicycling here is exceptionally good. One can park at the ferry landing in the Currituck near the Courthouse, take the ferry across, and make a round trip on Knotts Island. The Ferry operates on a schedule, every 1-2 hours. Distance: 10 miles plus the ferry ride. You may also continue north of Knotts Island into the Pungo area for more rural cycling.

    Click Here for more Information on the NCDOT Knott’s Island Ferry, or Call 252-232-2683.

    For general information on North Carolina ferries, call 800-ByFerry.

    Currituck County Mainland

    But don’t neglect the Currituck County mainland for bicycling! Stop and buy some of Currituck County’s famous fruits and vegetables. Most of the rural roads do not have wide paved shoulders, though. It’s all flat, so visibility is good in all directions. A county map would be useful for these excursions; obtain one from one of the Currituck County Visitor’s Centers.

    Western Currituck County: West of the intersection with NC-168, and reaching off from US-158 are many quiet side roads through rural farming areas and little motor vehicle traffic. Roads with quaint names such as Indiantown Road, Pudding Ridge Road, Bullyard Road, and Four Forks Road are worth exploring by cycle.

    Also on the mainland, NCDOT Bicycle Route 4 comes into Currituck County on NC-34 (Scotland Road) from Elizabeth City and continues north to Sligo where it joins NC-168 east/south into Currituck, where it continues via the free ferry onto Knotts Island on NC-615 to the Virginia state line.

    The North-South Route: There are three alternate north-south roadways which parallel NC-168 and US-158 and which offer quieter cycling with much less and lower-speed traffic:

    1. Tulls Creek Bypass: Coming south through Moyock, and 1 ½ miles past the VA-NC state line, Tulls Creek Road angles off to the left from NC-168 at the water tower, crosses the historic Shingle Landing Creek Bridge, passes the Moyock Elementary School, and later crosses over Tulls Creek and the Tulls Creek Swamp, and continues on into the village of Currituck where it rejoins NC-168 at another water tower. There is no paved shoulder, but turns are gradual and there is good visibility in both directions. 35-45 mph speed limit. From the south, Tulls Creek Road angles off to the right at the water tower in the village of Currituck and ends at the water tower in Moyock. Bypass distance 11 miles.
    2. Aydlett Bypass: In the village of Coinjock, beginning just a mile south of the Knapp Bridge over the Intracostal Waterway, with the North River Game Land on your right (deer, bear, turkeys, other wild game), turn left off from US-158 onto Aydlett Road, through the Maple Swamp, then at the village of Aydlett curve around southward through the village of Poplar Branch, continuing south on Poplar Branch Road into Grandy where it intersects with US-158. There is no paved shoulder, but turns are gradual and there is good visibility in both directions. 35-45 mph speed limit. From the south, half-way through Grandy, bear to the right at the traffic light onto Poplar Branch Road. Continue north to Aydlett then curve left back to US-158. Bypass distance 6 miles.
    3. Grandy Bypass: Beginning in Grandy, just 1/4 mile west of the intersection of Poplar Branch Road and US-158, turn left on Grandy Road to the end at Fisher Landing Road, then turn left to US-158, turn right. There is no paved shoulder, but turns are gradual and there is good visibility in both directions. 35-45 mph speed limit. From the south, turn left just past Forbes Road at the Post Office and restaurant onto Fisher Landing Road for a half-mile, then right on Grandy Road to US-158. Bypass distance 4 miles. To continue north on the Aydlett Bypass, turn right on US-158 for 1/4 mile to the traffic light, then turn left onto Poplar Branch Road.

    There are three excellent short side trips off from the highways on the mainland, one off from NC-168 and two off from US-158:

    Bell’s Island: Just a mile south of the Currituck ferry landing on NC-168, take Bells Island Road east along the causeway and little bridge and onto Bells Island with its pretty residential neighborhood; very little traffic and lots of quiet side streets. Distance 6 miles round trip.

    Waterlily: Immediately after crossing the Knapp Bridge on US-158 over the Intracostal Waterway southbound, take Waterlilly Road northeast past the little village of Waterlilly all the way to the campground at the north end; very little traffic. Distance 14 miles round trip.

    Indiantown Road: A great ride is off from US-158, at the west end of Currituck County toward Elizabeth City. Turn south on Indiantown Road and straight onto Sandy Hook Road and Texas Road in Camden County, along the North River Game Lane, past Riddle, Old Trap, and Goose Creek, all the way south to Camden Point on the Albemarle Sound. Distance 31 miles round trip.

    Click Here for more information on Cycling on the Outer Banks.

     
     

    The Wright Brothers Bikeway

    Wright Brothers' bikeway

    Contributed by Bill Brobst, Wheels of Dare Bicycle Club

    The “Wright Brothers Bikeway” runs for 40 miles between Corolla in Currituck County at the north end of the Outer Banks and South Nags Head, and then continues on for another 65 miles or so to Ocracoke at the south end. The northern 45-mile portion of the Wright Brothers Bikeway consists of a combination of wide paved shoulders, separate community multi-use (bike) paths, and quiet neighborhood streets. In all cases, the separate paths are shared with pedestrians, and are recommended more for slow and intermediate speed leisure family riding. The Wright Brothers Bikeway is shown on the NC DOT bicycle map.

    Beginning at the north end is the Currituck County portion of the Wright Brothers Bikeway. In the village of Corolla, there are many bike paths, winding through the Corolla Historic Village, some wide, some narrow. NC Highway 12 begins at the north end of Corolla, at the beach. Two miles south is Currituck Heritage Park, with the Whalehead Museum and Nature Center and the Currituck Lighthouse, both worth a visit.

    South of the Corolla area is a combination of separate multi-use southbound paths paralleling NC-12 and 5′ wide paved outside shoulders on NC-12 itself. Speed limit on NC-12 is 35 or 45 mph, depending on location. In the southern half, beginning just north of the Hampton Inn, there is a separate series of narrower paths on the ocean (east) side of winding NC-12 which combine with quiet neighborhood access streets in the several housing projects along the oceanfront. Keep your eyes open so you don’t miss the connecting paths. This continues southward into the Sanderling section of Duck, just past the Dare County line. Total length in Currituck County: 17 miles. On the return trip from Duck in the south, turn right on Caldwell Road into the housing project shortly after you enter Currituck County, and follow the access roads north.

    Details on the Dare County and Hyde County portions of the Wright Brother’s Bikeway can be found on the Outer Banks Visitor’s Bureau website, www.outerbanks.org. Bicycling questions can also be answered by the Wheels of Dare Bicycle Club, phone 252-261-3068. E-mail: Brobst-Hager@embarqmail.com.

    For more information on Cycling on the Outer Banks, please visit:

    Roadways and Bikeways

    Bike

    Contributed by Bill Brobst, Wheels of Dare Bicycle Club

    Mainland Currituck County lies along the route of the Outer Banks Option of the National East Coast Bikeway, running from Maine to Florida. It is also very close to the East Coast Greenway’s Historic Coastal Route. These national designations bring large numbers of interstate touring cyclists through Currituck County.

    The roadways and bikeways of the Outer Banks, along its entire length, including the Currituck Outer Banks, form the Outer Banks’ Wright Brothers Bikeway. The Wright Brothers Bikeway runs from Corolla to Ocracoke. Cyclists can ride the northern half of the Bikeway and never have to ride in a high-speed motor vehicle traffic lane. The Bikeway consists mostly of bike and multi-use paths, wide paved shoulders, and quiet neighborhood streets. There are some bike route signs along the way, but not many.

    Through the northern portions of Currituck County there are actually four primary motor vehicle travel routes, north and south, plus a coincident NCDOT Bicycle Route:

    1. NC-168 (Caratoke Highway) runs from Chesapeake, Virginia, southward past the village of Currituck to its endpoint and junction with US-158 in Barco, NC. It is marked with bicycle “Share the Road” signs. It has a 4′ marked paved shoulder on both sides, with a 55 mph speed limit. However, bicycling on the shoulders of the roadway of NC-168 is not ideal for Sunday afternoon casual cyclists. Traffic is sometimes heavy and fast, with some big trucks and recreational vehicles, and there are numerous business entrances and residential driveways. Traffic is especially heavy on summer weekends; cyclists need to be experienced in handling this kind of traffic. Distance 17 miles.

    2. U.S. Highway 158 (Caratoke Highway), coming in from Elizabeth City in the west and running east to the junction with NC-168 in Barco,and then south along the peninsula over the 3-mile-long Wright Memorial Bridge into Kitty Hawk, which is the only access point to the Currituck Beaches. It is marked with bicycle “Share the Road” signs. The bridge has 2′-wide shoulders eastbound, and 6′-wide shoulders westbound. The same traffic levels, road conditions, and precautions apply here as described above for NC-168. Distance 24 miles.

    3. NC-12 (Duck – Corolla Road) runs from the north end of Corolla south to Duck, and from there south to Dare County and on to Ocracoke. It, too, is marked in places with yellow bicycle “Share the Road” signs or green NCDOT Bicycle Route signs, and is nicely paved, 2 lanes wide (with some three-lane portions at intersections), and with a 3-4′ marked paved shoulder; 35-45 mph speed limit. This is the northern portion of the Wright Brothers Bikeway, the three-county bike route from Corolla to Ocracoke. By the way, NC-12 ends in north Corolla; there is no practical bicycling north of there – it’s all sand! Distance 11 miles.

    4. NC-34 (Shawboro Road) runs northeast from Elizabeth City into Currituck County through the villages of Shawboro and Gum Corner to the village of Sligo where it ends at its intersection with NC-168. The final seven miles incorporates NC Bicycle Route 4. Two lanes wide, nicely paved, minimum paved shoulders, 55 mph speed limit, but not much traffic.

    Of course, there are many other roadways in Currituck County, most of them quite suitable for cycling.

    For more information on Cycling on the Outer Banks, please visit:

    Bicycle Laws

    Bike

    Contributed by Bill Brobst, Wheels of Dare Bicycle Club

    The NC traffic laws define the rights and duties of bicyclists as well as the motorists with whom they share the roadway. State traffic laws consider bicycles, mopeds, and motorized bikes as legal road vehicles, and subject to the same laws, therefore cyclists must adhere to the traffic laws just as motorists must.

    The following summary of the laws and good practices may by useful in keeping you safe and out of trouble with the motorists and police:

    1. Bicyclists, including moped operators, have the right to ride on any public-maintained roadway, whether or not designated as a NCDOT Bicycle Route. But, please, ride predictably and courteously to keep traffic moving safely and to avoid accidents.

    2. Bicyclists must ride on the right, in the same direction as the flow of other traffic. Never ride on the left against the flow of traffic. Motorists must give the cyclists are least a two-foot clearance when passing. Bicyclists should remain within 4′ of the right hand paved edge of the roadway. They have the right to be there, and the responsibility to stay there. A bicyclist is not required to ride on the shoulder, paved or not, since the shoulder is not legally defined as being part of the roadway. (But remember, whether the bottle hits the stone, or the stone hits the bottle, it’s going to bad for the bottle!)

    3. While bicyclists should ride as far right as practicable, they may ride well out into the motor vehicle traffic lane under the following conditions: a. If he/she can maintain a speed not less than 10 mph under the posted speed limit, or the same speed as other vehicles on the roadway; b. If the right-hand edge of the roadway is in poor condition (gravel, potholes, etc.); and c. In order to rightfully claim a right-of-way to prevent being squeezed by passing two-way traffic.

    4. Bicyclists must ride single file on any roadway shared with motorists. Avoid swerving and other sudden changes of direction or speed. Keep children off the high speed highways, even if they are experienced bicyclists with good traffic sense. Be sure to have a rearview mirror if you’re going ride on the highway.

    5. Minor-age or slow adult bicyclists may ride on the sidewalks (there are precious few of them in Currituck County); it’s not recommended for fast adult bicyclists and may be unlawful unless the sidewalk is specifically and legally marked as a bikeway which meets the DOT bikeway safety standards (at least 6′ wide). And pedestrians have the right of way on sidewalks.

    6. Motorists may approach and pass a bicyclist only at a safe lateral distance and with reasonable and proper speed. Overtaking motor vehicle operators are required to treat bicycles as legitimate vehicles, and pass only when it is safe to do so, clearing the bicycle by at least two feet. (But keep a close watch on pickup trucks, RVs, and boat trailers; their ideas of adequate clearance and safe passing procedures often differ from cyclist’s preferences.) Stay alert!

    7. Bicyclists must use hand signals for turns and stops. Bicyclists must obey stop lights, stop signs, and other traffic signals, just as motor vehicles do; no buzzing through after a quick glance. (You can’t have it both ways– if you want the right to be treated as a vehicle driver, then you have to act like one.) If the bicyclist dismounts and walks beside the bike, the cyclist is then (and only then) a pedestrian, and subject to pedestrian rules instead. Intersections are a major location of serious bicycle accidents.

    8. Bicyclists may choose to make a left turn from the appropriate lane, like other vehicles, with hand signals, or may dismount and walk the bicycle across the intersection, as a pedestrian.

    9. Bicyclists must keep at least one hand on the handle bars at all times. No riding double except on a bike specially designed or equipped to carry more than one rider (tandem bikes or adult bikes with child seats). Hitching rides on moving motor vehicles is dangerous and unlawful.

    10. When on a designated multi-use or bike path, the cyclist has the right of way over motor vehicles turning into or coming out of parking lots or driveways across the path. But remember the story of the stone and the bottle. Motorists might not be aware of that right-of-way law, and even if they are, they might not see you and might not even be looking for bicyclists. Brightly colored clothing will help them to see you.

    11. In case of a bicycle accident involving death, injury, or property damage, the bicyclist must stop and report the accident to the police.

    12. Riding at night requires a lighted white light in the front (visible 300′), and either a lighted red light and/or a red reflector in the rear (visible 200′). (But better to put the bike away at dark and not put your life in the hands of the motorists on dark, narrow, unfamiliar, and crowded roads, we have very few streetlights.)

    13. The North Carolina Bicycle Helmet Law requires, as of Oct 1, 2001:

    • Every person under 16 years old must wear an approved bicycle helmet when operating a bicycle on any public road, public bicycle path, or other public right-of-way.
    • All child passengers falling at or below 40 pounds/40 inches must be carried in a separate restraining seat.
    • Any parent or legal guardian who knowingly allows a child to ride without a helmet or to ride as a passenger not secured in a restraining seat (when applicable) will be in violation of the law.
    • Violation of the law carries a $10 civil fine. The fine may be waived upon the receipt of satisfactory proof of purchase of helmet or restraining seat.

    14. Watch for sand on the roads, especially near the beach area. A thin layer isn’t too bad, but if it is more than that, it can lead to loss of control. Many shoulders are covered with soft sand, and might be generally unrideable.

    15. Adequate bicycle parking devices are still scarce on the Outer Banks. You’ll find some at the beach access areas and at a few of the shopping centers. Thefts do occur, so carry a lock and do the best you can.

    For more information on Cycling on the Outer Banks, please visit: