On May 17, a host of local elected officials and community leaders gathered downtown to take part in the Mayor’s Leadership Ride, a bicycle tour of the city designed to highlight recent infrastructure improvements and upcoming challenges.
Sitting in for Mayor Terry Bellamy, who was unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts, was Vice Mayor Brownie Newman. Also taking part in the sometimes rainy ride were Council members Cecil Bothwell and Esther Manheimer, as well as County Commissioner Holly Jones and representatives from Congressman Heath Shuler‘s office, among others.
One of the goals of the Strive Not to Drive event was to give the officials a better perspective of what it’s like to ride the city, said organizer Mike Sule. “You can’t really understand an issue unless you participate in it,” he said. “Our participants got a real authentic experience in terms of what it’s like to ride the city.”
Sule and other representatives from the cycling advocacy group Asheville on Bikes, led participants on a tour that included stops at several sites intended to demonstrate issues facing bike commuters. They showed off the new bike lockers the Rankin Avenue parking garage, as well as the hazards of the Clingman/Patton Avenue intersection. They also held a “tube cutting” ceremony to celebrate the new bike climbing lane on Lexington Avenue.
Afterwards, Newman praised the ride as eye-opening.
“On City Council we see all these plans come in front of us about where we want to have bike lanes and what intersections we know are not safe, but you see it from a different angle when you get to get out and ride on them and go through those intersections,” he said. “Seeing some of our first new bike lanes and climbing lanes, that was fun. And going through some of the intersections that are kind of hairy, that’s helpful too.”
Strive Not to Drive events continue through May 21.
See below to watch a video documenting the ride: