by opsmuseum

Biking on Ocracoke is one of the best ways to tour the village. On the narrow streets and dirt paths, bikes are the perfect way to take in the scenery, breathe the salt air and connect with your surroundings. When we think of biking on Ocracoke, it seems only natural that bikes would have dominated as the popular island form of transportation for a lot longer than cars. However, that is not the case. Even though bikes would have been much easier to transport to the island (especially before the advent of car ferries), it was the Navy that ultimately and unknowingly ushered in the age of bikes on Ocracoke. When the government built the U.S. Navy base here in 1942, they brought some of the first cars to the island. At this time, all the “roads” on the island were sand, not hard packed sand, but deep, soft ruts of sand. They were tricky for cars to navigate, and all but impossible for bikes to maneuver through. Since it’s easier to drive a car on pavement than in sand, the U.S. government built the first road on the island. And, in the subsequent years, more concrete roads were completed. The first Christmas after roads were paved on Ocracoke, many of the local children found bikes under their Christmas trees (think scraggly local cedar trees and not neatly trimmed, farm grown trees). From there the popularity of bikes skyrocketed. Now, kids, adults, visitors, and locals, are all attached to this two-wheeled mode of transportation.

2015.11.AKR.024 Road Paving Kids on Bikes,1955 bikes_at_porch_talk
Soft sand lanes, photo from the Alice Rondthaler collection Paving the road, photo from the Ocracoke Library collection School children with their new bikes, photo by Martha McMillan Roberts for the Standard Oil Co. OPS Museum today surrounded by bikes, photo from the Ocracoke Island Realty website

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