It’s time for Asheville to adopt a pro-cyclist stance

After being an avid bicyclist in Asheville for, well, almost four years now, I haven't seen any change in either motorists' attitudes towards cyclists or an altered political view of the situation (except for Gordon Smith, who has advocated for bicyclists). Concerning the potentially economically and environmentally advantageous qualities, let alone personal benefits, of simply riding a bike, every organization involved in opting for more popularization of bikes has done a great job … depicting bike riding as a viable option for exercise and transportation in this wonderful community that we live in.

But unfortunately, Asheville may not be as progressive as we all once anticipated. After recent events, and without reform, both motorists and cyclists seem to maintain an "us against them" attitude, although neither of the parties have any time for that kind of behavior.

Absolutely, drive a car! I'll ride my bike. And we'll both do each — respectfully.

There is a quick solution. I — as well as almost every other cyclist I have spoken to, many of whom are from here — have lived somewhere with a successful … transportation system. All of those places have bike lanes. If we have less bus traffic in Asheville, per capita, we should certainly have more bike traffic, considering expense and environment. Right? What am I missing?

I, as a cyclist, am ready to see change. So many cities have accomplished this simple task, while maintaining a more than reasonable budget. Let's get on board. Let's see bike lanes. We've all earned them.

— Lilly Wright
West Asheville

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13 thoughts on “It’s time for Asheville to adopt a pro-cyclist stance

  1. travelah

    Bike lanes are paid for because they are a nice to have thing rather than something somebody has earned. Come up with a way to pay for them.

  2. Barry Summers

    Wait a minute – “earned”? What have motorists done to ‘earn’ paved streets? What have pedestrians done to ‘earn’ sidewalks? That’s ridiculous. It’s not up to cyclists to come up with a way to pay for bike lanes, it’s up to our elected representatives to decide it’s in the best interest of the whole community, and then use city dollars to pay for it.
    I believe they should.

  3. travelah

    Who stated motorists and pedestrians earned anything. A way was found to fund roads and sidewalks. Find a way to pay for bike lanes. This is not a difficult concept for people who actually pay for things to grasp.

  4. travelah

    Furthermore, thre are a lot of roads that do not have sidewalks. Have the people on those streets earned sidewalks? Of course not …. find a way to pay for your wants.

  5. Barry Summers

    This is baloney – asserting that bike lanes are some luxury that cyclists have to pay for themselves… If the community, through their elected leaders and the professionals charged with analyzing road use and transportation issues, decide that it’s in everyone’s best interest to include bike lanes, then the city will pay for them. Sorry, that’s how a community works. I know, you probably hate that word, ‘community’ – too close to ‘communist’. You want the liberty to not have to share with your neighbors… Perhaps we should set up a toll booth at the end of your driveway and charge you every time you want to use the road?

    And yes, there are roads that have no sidewalks, just like there are roads that need no bike lanes.

  6. Matthew

    Big difference is that roads are paid for by vehicle tax and gasoline sales. So essentially roads are paid for by cars. Bike riders in Asheville are some of the most rude and inconsiderate bunch out there. Not all of them, but a big portion of them. If they would be more considerate to other forms of transportation on the road then people wouldn’t frown upon them. Same goes for the cages too. It’s hard to say what is worse in Asheville the morons on the scooters that ride with helmets sitting on top of their heads not buckeled and have no insurance or tag or bicyclist who think they rule the road.

  7. travelah

    Barry boy, you are not paying attention. I am not suggestng the cyclists pay for the lanes themselves. I am stating that to fulfill these wants, you have to come up with a way to pay for them. If that is through more tax revenues, then lobby for it. If it is through cutting other programs, lobby for that. If it is through collections and fund raising, see to it. The point is somebody has to fund it and determine if it fits community priorities. It also needs to be understood that nobody “earns” bike lanes. It is not a priviledge or entitlement.

    Perhaps we should just make you walk in middle of the road and not charge you anything at all.

  8. Barry Summers

    “Bike riders in Asheville are some of the most rude and inconsiderate bunch out there. Not all of them, but a big portion of them. If they would be more considerate to other forms of transportation on the road then people wouldn’t frown upon them.”

    If we had bike lanes, there wouldn’t be as many conflicts between cyclists and motorists. That’s the point. I’ve been pretty harsh on rude cyclists myself on these very pages. The way to fix that isn’t to punish all cyclists for the actions of a very small minority, but look for ways to make it easier for everyone to co-exist. Bike lanes are good for everybody.

    As for funding, are sidewalks paid for with a tax on pedestrians? No. They are recognized as a beneficial feature in a community, and they are paid for out of the general fund. Same should hold with bike lanes.

    Motorists should be all for this – if you get a significant number of people out of their cars and onto bicycles, you’ll help alleviate traffic, parking, air quality, noise, and a lot of other problems. Why don’t people see this as win-win solution?

  9. John B

    Ok. How many bike riders are out there? If it’s a comparable number to a similar county/city – say Boulder County, CO or Thurston County, WA – then bike lanes are justified. Of course, Boulder has about 80,000 more people but close enough for government work as the saying goes…

    I’m guessing Asheville isn’t there yet. Having witnessed cyclist numbers in both places, I tend to think one would be hard pressed to compare our bike numbers to a bike mecca like Boulder or Olympia. Bike lanes were a no brainer in both cities.

    So there’s the question: Are the numbers there? Or more importantly, will they be there in the future. If someone can point to a reasonable study that says yes, I’ll fully support it right now. If not, ask me again after the recession is over because property and utility taxes are driving the cost of living in this city through the roof…

  10. Cheshire

    My problem with bike lanes, from a cyclist perspective, is you can’t put them everywhere a bicycle can go. In NC, the only roads off-limits to bicycles are interstates. That’s a LOT of bike lanes.

    I mention this because I’ve noticed a couple of ugly trends in Asheville. If there’s a bicycle lane, drivers tend to get homicidal if the bicycle isn’t in the lane 100% of the time. Bicycle lanes are painted in on the right shoulder…what happens when the cyclist needs to make a left turn somewhere? He…needs to get out of the bicycle lane and into the turn lane, at which point some driver will usually take it upon themself to “put them back where they belong.”
    The other ugly trend is bicycle lane placement, specifically when it sandwiches a cyclist between the lane of traffic and a long row of parallel parking. This is a recipe for disaster! Car doors opening without warning into the bicycle lane, drivers pulling out or in without looking or warning are some of the surface problems. Then there’s my (least) favorite, and often seen on College Street: cars that treat the bicycle lane as extra parking. Not even the police refrain from this!

    So, no: I don’t think bicycle lanes are a good solution. I would, however, love to see paved shoulders on every road. This would benefit ALL forms of getting from point A to B.

  11. Cheshire

    The numbers of cyclists aren’t up there because Buncombe county has a reputation for being a death trap for cyclists. I’ve heard this from cyclists all the way from Florida to New York and Oregon.

    For a “green” minded area, we’ve managed to get black-listed for alt-transportation friendly. Mountain biking? We rank right up there. Just be sure to bring the car to get to the trail head…or you might end up in the ER instead.

  12. John B

    Is there a study or survey out there there that suggests this?

    I’m not sure I buy the whole “If we build it, they will come.” thing in regards to both cycles and the transit system. I don’t see too many eco-yuppie types riding the bus. I sure don’t see Gordon, Brownie or Cecil out there either and I ride the bus all the time. I have seen cops park in the lanes as well. For some reason, nobody ever wants to take on the local cops unless there’s an incident like the Flag folks last year.

    I do agree with the shoulder idea but I think the city will say there’s no space unless we eliminate parking. That is a LOT of bike lanes…

  13. lilith

    I’ve thought for many years we should design more substantial bike lanes financed by biking licenses and tags, like we have for motor vehicles. I guess the argument can be made we want to encourage the alternative choice and those fees would discourage it, but it’s only fair. Additionally, to those from “other places”, due to geogrpahic limitations WNC roads especially in the city have many blind curves and narrow, hilly areas not very conducive to road-sharing.

    My husband and I were on River Rd about a month ago and there was a cycling couple trying to make a left in front of us onto Gashes Creek at dusk. The guy procedes to fall out in the middle of our lane with his bike on top of him and we had to not only slam on our brakes but subsequently put ourselves at risk of being rear-ended to protect him for the agonizing 90 seconds it took him to collect himself and get out of the road. That kind of thing is annoying and maybe cyclists would take their role as road-sharers more seriously if they had to carry licenses, tags, and modest insurance.

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