I love the Blue Ridge Parkway! Now someone (John C. Tripp, Letters, Dec. 30) is upset that commuters use the Blue Ridge Parkway, some of whom are rude to him (and by extension to other bike riders). He writes that the parkway was constructed “to ‘provide opportunities for high-quality scenic and recreational experiences,’ for motor vehicles, hikers and cyclists” [“Parkway Has Become Commuter Shortcut”].
According to the parkway’s Long Range Interpretive Plan 2002, “The legislated purpose of the Blue Ridge Parkway . . . is to link Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee by way of a recreation-oriented motor road intended for public use and enjoyment. … [T]he intended purpose of the Blue Ridge Parkway is to conserve, interpret and exhibit the unique natural and cultural resources of the central and southern Appalachian Mountains, as well as provide for leisure motor travel through a variety of environments” (emphasis mine). There is no mention of bicycle travel in either the originating legislation or the subsequent interpretation.
I do believe it is appropriate for bicyclists to use the parkway for recreation (or commuting). I make every effort to accommodate them (just as I do pedestrians.) I live in East Asheville, and I often use the strip of parkway from 74-A to Hendersonville Road, taking advantage both of the time saved (if any) and the scenic nature of the drive as compared with I-40, which would be my alternate route.
The National Park Service has noted the use of this section of the parkway around southeast to south Asheville as a commuting thoroughfare and consequently reduced the speed limit on that section (much to the annoyance of many who do not pay attention to signage).
The writer suggests that this portion of the parkway be closed to commuters during rush hour. One wonders how they would do that.
(PARKWAY RANGER: “Are you a commuter?” TRAVELER No. 1: “No, sir.” RANGER: “Are you a commuter?” TRAVELER No. 2: “No, sir.” Etc., until, RANGER: “Are you (etc.) TRAVELER No. 15: “Yes.” RANGER: “I’m sorry you’ll have to turn around and get off the parkway.” Repeat.)
Of course, there are jerks driving the parkway and bicycling the parkway just as there are anywhere. I suggest that if Mr. Tripp has a problem on the parkway during commuting hours, he avoid the parkway at that time, just as motorists anywhere learn what routes to avoid during rush hours.
— Bob Wilson