A bike-friendly Asheville would be more liveable

This is perplexing: While many forward-thinking and growing cities large and small — such as Portland, Louisville and New York City — are making bicycle transit a high priority, Asheville has become a national hotbed of anti-bicycling sentiments that have boiled over to hostility for some. Or so it seems from reading some of the letters to the editor published here and in other local publications.

While New York City, with its 8.4 million residents, has seen a 45-percent increase in bicyclists in just three years, Asheville has declared war on the bike. Even bicyclists themselves are on the attack.

Wow, what's next? War on strollers? Those ignorant and inconsiderate parents who think they own the sidewalk? Come on folks, let's get real here. The roads of Asheville are dominated by cars and trucks, and with almost no bike lanes (apart from token ones that are "bike paths to nowhere"), it's tough pedaling, which is a real shame and loss for this community. Instead of pointing fingers, we should be lobbying the DOT and our city leaders to make real accommodations for safe bicycling throughout the city.

If there were proper bike lanes, then both drivers and bicyclists would feel better since the "zone" for bicycles would be clearly delineated. Now, it's a game of weaving around obstacles and into the path of vehicles, making things frustrating for all parties. Would it be too much to ask to have real bike paths on some of the city's wider streets? Livable streets are good for all: Property values go up, the streets are safer, traffic is less congested, the health benefits are many.

So, if we're going to get angry and want something done, that energy should be focused on positive solutions. It is truly time for Asheville, a city renowned for its livability, to embrace the bicycle — and walking, for that matter — as part of the transportation mix. So, let's bury the hatchet and get to work. Those who want to get involved can join Livable Asheville at www.livablestreets.com/projects/livable-asheville/blog/.

— John C. Tripp

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