The Blue Ridge Parkway was constructed to “provide opportunities for high-quality scenic and recreational experiences,” for motor vehicles, hikers and cyclists. Nowhere in its original mission will one find “as commuter highway” or “shortcut to subdivision housing.”
Knowing this, one might be surprised to see its narrow path clogged with morning and afternoon commuters in Asheville, using it not for its scenic or recreational qualities, but as just another highway. The parkway has become the de facto connector in South Asheville for those traveling east to west, and one can’t exactly blame commuters for doing so.
As a result of this, the southern stretch of the parkway has become a congested and dangerous place for anyone wanting to bicycle or hike. Vehicles disregard speed limits, blasting along in a hurry to get home.
I was bicycling this portion of the parkway recently, taking advantage of a beautiful day. Sadly, I spent most of my time pulling off the road so cars could pass, some of them blasting fumes at me or yelling to get off the *&@# road. Since there is no shoulder, there’s nowhere to go.
So, who’s the problem here? Me on my bicycle enjoying the parkway’s mission or commuters who just want to go somewhere fast?
I would love it if there were a bike path on the side, so I could just enjoy my ride and be out of the way of traffic. I don’t foresee that happening, so maybe the parkway needs to return to its mission and simply restrict its use for commuting?
We don’t allow bicycles on interstates; why do we allow commuters on scenic roadways? Why should my tax dollar subsidize the development of ill-planned subdivisions and sprawl? How about the parkway just be closed to commuters during rush hour, so those who want to enjoy it can?
— John C. Tripp