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Carolina Beach To Begin Enforcing Bike; Pet Ordinance On Boardwalk

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach is preparing to send out information reminding the public about ordinances governing the downtown boardwalk area, dogs and Freeman Park. The Council discussed the issue at their April 29th, workshop meeting.
Mayor Dan Wilcox explained, "Dogs, bikes and skateboards on the Boardwalk. I had asked staff to bring to Council... to discuss the opportunity to kind of focus in on our enforcement efforts down there. Give the police something to work with. That primarily to me would be dogs and skateboards. I would like Council to consider removing bicycles from that list of no’s at the Boardwalk."
Wilcox explained, "Having been down there thousands of hours over the last six years and watched it when it was crowded, not crowded, daytime and nighttime. I've never one time seen an angry bike rider trying to cause anybody problems, being reckless, trying to run into anybody. They generally get off their bikes and walk them when it's busy even when they are not asked,"
He said, "Mostly what the police department has done is if they see somebody riding a bike they ask them to walk the bike. Our sign actually says no bikes on the boardwalk but that's not enforced because we allow people to walk bikes on the Boardwalk."
He said the Police Advisory Committee is reviewing the issue and will bring a recommendation to the Council at a later date.
He said, "There is a timing thing. They want to get the signs in place and give warnings now and start enforcement Memorial Day so to speak. We want to make sure for the visitors that there is proper signage and effective signage at all of the entrances so they are not caught by surprise. We also want to make sure we have time to let locals know via Facebook and the newspaper... that not only do we have new and great things coming to the Boardwalk and Central Business District but also by the way we are going to start enforcing these ordinances that have been inconsistently enforced over the years."
Wilcox asked to remove bicycles from the signs and said putting out a press release right now on summer time ordinances may be premature if changes are made a month down the road.
Police Chief Ken Hinkle said he has heard from citizens there is a need to define the actual Boardwalk area. He said, "Why can't we have little painted sea turtles on the ground that distinguish where" the Boardwalk is. He said, "I have residents that have lived here for years and they still don't think that the business area is the Boardwalk. So when they take their dog down there they are genuinely surprised when we say you can't have your dog or ride your bike on the Boardwalk."
Hinkle said, "That's part of the challenge out there. The education piece and to try and actually define that for the residents and the tourists."
The Boardwalk area in general is located oceanfront from Harper Avenue south to the area in front of the Marriot Hotel and in between the ocean and Woody Hewett Street. The most visible areas to vehicle traffic are at Harper Avenue and Cape Fear Blvd.
There is an actual wooden "Boardwalk" that runs along the oceanfront atop a large sand berm that parallels the Boardwalk business area.
Wilcox said the Town could put a sign at every public entrance point but people will cut through properties and alleys and not see the signs.
Chief Hinkle said, "I would rather use a carrot than a stick down there" when enforcing the ordinances.
Council member Sarah Friede recommended changing the signs to "Please no riding bikes" in the area. Currently the signs simply say "No bikes" meaning literally that no bikes can be on the wooden boardwalk or in the Boardwalk area. 
Wilcox said, "Really what the police officers are doing when it is busy are saying, would you mind walking your bike. To me, a public service announcement that says please be courteous and when its busy walk your bike is self enforcement so to speak."
There are bike racks located in the Boardwalk area.
Councilman Gary Doestch said he would like the Chief to explore the issue more and return to Council with a recommendation at a future meeting.
Wilcox said, "Let's let people self enforce and if there is a problem let's fix it. I haven't seen that problem down there in seven years even during the busiest times... The sign should say be courteous and walk your bike when busy."
Friede said, "My 13-year old rides down to Britt's to get donuts. This coming year, he's not plowing anybody down."