In 2006, Mike Sule returned home to Asheville, North Carolina from a Portland bike tour feeling inspired to create a similar bicycling culture in his town.
The following year, Sule gathered 25 bicyclists to ride in Asheville’s annual holiday parade. The costumed cyclists (including a Thanksgiving turkey and the tooth fairy) won awards for “Spirit of the Parade” and “Best Overall.” The resulting $750 in prize money launched Asheville on Bikes (AoB) as an informal advocacy group.
Subsequently, AoB backed a proposal to place rented bike lockers downtown (since installed), and launched community rides and annual events to build and celebrate Asheville’s cycling culture. The group began hosting a supervised bike parking corral at local festivals to encourage residents to arrive by bike. Sule continued building relationships with Claudia Nix, a longtime local bicycle advocate, and local governments while continuing his work as a sixth-grade teacher at a local charter school.
In 2008, with support from Sule and AoB, the city adopted its Comprehensive Bike Plan, a network to enhance bicycle use. The group of friends and bicycle advocates continued to grow in size and expertise, garnering frequent media attention for its enthusiastic and efficient achievements in promoting bicycle culture and infrastructure. The group added a Board of Directors to oversee its advocacy efforts, local events, communications, and planned growth. Red heart-shaped stickers sporting a bicycle began appearing throughout Asheville.
In 2013, Western Carolina Alliance became a fiscal sponsor of Asheville on Bikes and Mike Sule its first full-time Director. The work (and the fun) rolls on.