Letter writer: Cyclists should avoid Blue Ridge Parkway during rush hour

Graphic by Lori Deaton

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


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11 thoughts on “Letter writer: Cyclists should avoid Blue Ridge Parkway during rush hour

  1. Leisure motor travel is inherently wasteful and any roads built for such a wasteful purpose should not be maintained. Commuting is caused primarily by zoning and is necessary until Asheville repeals the UDO. I have used the parkway more to save my clutch and brakes than to save time, because the lights on Hendersonville road is hard on them where the speed on the parkway is reasonably constant even if slow. Drivers should buy and repair cars that are narrow and can squeeze by bikes, and cars that have small engines which can run efficiently even when stuck behind bikes or mopeds. Bikes should be allowed on those superhighways with full width paved shoulders. My 1978 Datsun F-10 was excellent at this but too many were crushed and now parts are hard to find. Who says old cars guzzle gas???? That hasn’t been true for 30 years.
    Bikes should not purposely block cars more than necessary because doing so wastes gas, and wasting gas defeats a major purpose of riding a bike in the first place; though blocking cars wastes far less gas than maintaining sections of road entirely for leisure motoring, especially when the parkway viewshed is causing so much homelessness. Especially do not unnecessarily block exceptionally narrow cars, which may well have been chosen or painstakingly maintained with you in mind.

    • hauntedheadnc

      If commuting is caused primarily by zoning, then explain why Houston, the largest American city without any zoning, is crisscrossed by freeways that are more than twenty lanes wide in some areas.

  2. When I rode my bike, and later my 20 mph moped which was hardly any faster, I kept right as far as possible and considered it unwise and inconsiderate to do otherwise even though it is my right. That said, drivers should buy cars that can cruise efficiently behind bikes without wasting fuel, and they should leave home early enough to do so in case it is necessary. My favorite moped road is 25/70 between Weaverville and Marshall, which is almost a superhighway but I found the wide shoulder more than compensates for the fast traffic, which is why I’m sure bikes on superhighways would work just fine. The worst road was 63 because it has the traffic without the shoulder. My 1 liter, 3 cylinder car is good at cruising behind bicycles in addition to being narrow enough to squeeze past them. Though my beloved old ’78 Datsun F-10 was even narrower.

  3. Perhaps the letter writer should avoid the Parkway “during rush hour” since it is a national park/scenic by-way and not intended for “rush hour traffic”…

    • Craig Randolph

      exactly! The Parkway is for sight-seeing, not for buzzing about town. How about all the visitors enjoying the mountains and the Parkway stuck behind car after car after car in the heavily traveled section of the Parkway between the U.S.25 and Hwy. 70 exits. Sure, it’s your right, along with everyone elses to drive on the Parkway. It’s also an expectation whilst driving the Parkway not to be stuck in a conga line of local commuters using the road for unintended purposes.

  4. boatrocker

    The Blue Ridge Parkway, part of the New Deal. Right? Part of that ‘commie FDR”‘s plan to turn us into Stalin’s Russia.

    If you love Murica, don’t drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, otherwise you hate Murica. Next thing you know, you’ll be involved in your child’s education by reading books to them.

    Bicyclists- knowing that every Floridiot drives that stretch just to run over folks on bikes, take another route for your scenic ride. better yet, get militant and vote folks into office who long for bike routes in town. That is what your tax $ should pay for.

    Auto drivers- when you puff up about wanting to run over bicyclists, you make the cast of Duck Dynasty sound politically well informed. I hope none of you had a son/brother/dad/husband die in the first Gulf War over cheap oil. Actually I do, just so the irony about overweight sedentary car culture Muricans is recognized.

    • Steven

      Whether you like it or not, sightseeing is exactly what the Blue Ridge Parkway is for!

      • boatrocker

        Why has the oft asked question never been answered on threads such as this- driving on a parkway, parking on a driveway, etc?

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