Organizers of this year's Strive Not to Drive hope this month’s high gas prices will inspire locals to consider alternatives to getting around alone in their cars. The annual campaign includes more than a week of events designed to boost awareness of transportation issues and get people walking, biking, carpooling and bussing. Here are a few highlights:
• On Wednesday, May 11, local networking group Asheville Green Drinks hosts a presentation on upcoming changes to the Asheville Transit System, including new routes and schedules designed to make riding the bus more convenient. Posana Cafe, 1 Biltmore Ave., 5:30 p.m.
• Seniors can take a course on "Commuting by Bicycle" (Wednesday, May 18, 10:30 a.m., YWCA, 185 S. French Broad Ave.), join a "Downtown Senior Walk" (May 18, 10 a.m., YWCA, 185 S. French Broad Ave.) or take an "Introduction to Bicycling for Seniors" class (Thursday, May 19, 10 a.m., Carrier Park; bring your own bike). Seniors who participate in at least one of these events earn a chance to win a gift certificate from Dick’s Sporting Goods.
• The Annual Mayor's Leadership Ride, hosted by Asheville and Buncombe County officials, highlights recent mutimodal, transit-infrastructure improvements and ongoing challenges. The ride begins with a press conference and is meant to be invitation only, although organizers note, "Individuals will not be turned away as long as they have a safe bicycle and helmet." (Wednesday, May 18, 4 p.m. City County Plaza).
• Special stations will be available Friday, May 20, at three different locations for those commuting by bike, foot or bus. Participants will be able to grab free breakfast, coffee, water and a reusable bag full of information on multimodal transit at the following locations: Clingman/West End at the top of Clingman Ave. by Mountain Housing Opportunities; downtown at the intersection of Merrimon Avenue and Broadway Street under Interstate 240; and central West Asheville on Haywood Road, directly across from Pineapple Jack's and next to the Lucky Otter.
• The Asheville Transit System will offer free bus fare for all riders during Strive Not to Drive week (May 16 – 20). General info, including maps and schedules, is available at the ATS website (http://avl.mx/32).
• Participants who register online and pledge to commute May 16 – 20 and use transportation other than a single-occupant car will be entered into a drawing for prizes. Register at http://avl.mx/33). The SNTD committee also offers "Golden Spoke," "Golden Sneaker" and "Golden Wheel" awards to residents who set an example or make a difference in biking, walking or public transit use in Buncombe County. Submit nominations through May 20 online at http://avl.mx/34).
• Organizers will offer a "bike corral" at the Friday, May 20, Downtown After 5 event, the first free monthly block party of the season. It takes place on North Lexington Avenue between Hiawassee and the I-240 overpass; there will be food, beer and live music from Asheville Horns and Bayou Diesel. The corral offers a free, safe place to park your bike from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.