Asheville has too many highways, not enough bike lanes

I was very pleased to read the letter last week from Raven Kelly that finally linked the Gulf oil spill with our misplaced transportation planning [”Pondering the Gulf Oil Spill and Getting Buncombians to Ride More Miles on Bikes,” June 23 Xpress]. Cheap, shoddy urban planning that omits sidewalks and bike lanes/bike paths has been the rule in most American cities. It seems that energy crises come and go, and city planners have the same response every time: "We don't have the money to build bike lanes and greenways."

Only a few cities responded to the first energy crisis — the Arab Oil Embargo during the 1970s. Cities like Portland, Oregon, got the jump on building networks of bike lanes and greenways at a time when real-estate values were lower. Bicyclists feel safe in Portland because the infrastructure was planned to accommodate them. And, many people ride there because they feel safe to do so.

Asheville should be ashamed of the situation with the closed pedestrian bridge over Interstate 240 in the vicinity of the Hillcrest Apartments. Policies exactly like the one that closed the bridge push Americans into their dependency on oil. Most people just want to go along and get along. Hop in the SUV, fill ‘er up and waddle through the parking lot.

We're reluctant to speak out — until we see oiled beaches and dead pelicans washing up on our shores!

We get what we wish for.

Is a dead beach what we really want? It seems to be, judging by the lack of will to do simple things like open up a pedestrian bridge that was originally intended for foot transportation. That bridge was closed because "pedestrians might be criminals." Gee, I thought that a much bigger cache of contraband could be hidden in an automobile than on the person of a pedestrian or bicyclist.

Do we want dead beaches, or do we have the will to spend a little money to create safe routes for bicycling?

We get what we wish for and what we deserve.

Maybe it's about time we speak up for better bicycle and pedestrian policies!

— Ruth Sponsler

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3 thoughts on “Asheville has too many highways, not enough bike lanes

  1. Carrie

    Ms. Sponsler, are you really claiming that the BP oil spill could have been avoided if we simply had more bike lanes?!?

    Portland City Planning, Hillcrest Apartments, our dependency on oil & bike lanes have nothing to do with one another.

    “Do we want dead beaches, or do we have the will to spend a little money to create safe routes for bicycling?”

    Really, are these my choices?

  2. chops

    Yes, everything is related. The common factor here is american car culture. We need government support for a pedestrian alternative. Currently, this is lacking.

    Really, we have no choices.

  3. Carrie

    The common factor may be our “car culture”. But, the letter writer did nothing to explain alternatives except that bike lanes will solve our problems. They won’t. She also thinks “a little money” will be needed for these lanes. Where will it come from? Where should these bike lanes go (from where to where)?
    I don’t think the dots in her theory were connected.

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