Trail opens

Published 9:55 pm Thursday, October 15, 2015

bicyclists break the ribbon to officially open the Seaboard Coastline Trail in Driver at a ceremony Thursday

bicyclists break the ribbon to officially open the Seaboard Coastline Trail in Driver at a ceremony Thursday

A ribbon strung across the starting point of the Seaboard Coastline Trail snapped from the pressure of two bicyclists’ tires to officially open the trail at a ceremony Thursday afternoon.

Dozens of bicycles and walking feet, a longboard, a high-wheeler and a kids’ scooter were among the modes of transportation that followed along the path to christen the first completed segment of the trail.

“It’s beautiful,” said Marc Tobey, the operator of the first high-wheeler to navigate the trail. He rode his high-wheeler — also called a “penny-farthing” or “ordinary,” it’s a bicycle with a large front wheel and a much smaller back wheel — partway along the 2.36-mile segment before turning back. “I’m just itching to go the rest of the way.”

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The 10-foot-wide path begins in Driver and runs northeast to Shoulders Hill Road. Any non-motorized form of transportation can use it, but walkers, runners and cyclists are expected to be among the most common. The Driver end features a parking lot, bicycle service station, maps, benches, a pet waste station and other amenities.

“This is an exciting day,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson said during the ceremony. “I think it means we have really committed to having a healthy community.”

Parks and Recreation Director Lakita Watson said one of the most common requests from citizens is a more walkable community. She also said efforts are being made to extend the trail from Driver to downtown and from Shoulders Hill to the Chesapeake city line.

Grander plans include the trail running all the way to the Virginia Beach oceanfront, something the Tidewater Bicyclists Association has long lobbied for, Tobey said.

“Every little piece we get is a victory,” he said.

Many of the cyclists in attendance Thursday are members of the Chuckatuck Chainring, a cycling group with about 100 members, member Harold Heafner said.

“It’s just great,” said Heafner, who used to ride his bike on the abandoned railroad trail when he was younger. “This is wonderful. It’s safe cycling, running, walking, whatever.”