Bike of the Irish 2017

Bike of the Irish rides Beaucatcher greenway

 

On Saturday, March 18th the 11th annual Bike of the Irish rolls through Asheville and you’re invited to participate.  The year the ride begins at Wedge at Foundation, Wedge Brewing Co’s new space located at 5 Foundry Rd, rolls through the River Arts District, into the downtown, and explores the Beaucatcher greenway  (in the rough) before returning to the Wedge for an after ride celebration around 3pm.

 

Bike of the Irish is Asheville on Bikes annual spring ride. Participants are encouraged to  decorate themselves and their bikes in green as they ride the city in celebration of spring and the expansion of Asheville’s greenway system.

The event is free and open to the public. Families are welcome to participate as well. Everyone is encouraged to review and / or pre-ride the route to make sure it’s appropriate for their skill level. The ride rolls through active city streets and an unimproved greenway so riders can expect a  stretch of natural rough service along the Beaucatcher greenway. Participants are welcome to walk their bikes along this portion of the ride. Beaucatcher is a greenway in the rough but it’s truly a delightful place to visit and well worth the effort.

 

Please consider volunteering for Bike of the Irish as several volunteers are needed to make the ride a success. Review the Bike of Irish volunteer opportunities and select the one that works best for you.   

 

Join AoB on Saturday, March 18th for the 11th annual Bike of the Irish.

 

Bike of the Irish Details:

1:30pm  – Gather at Wedge at Foundation

2:00pm – The ride begins

3:00pm – Culminate at Wedge at Foundation.  

 

Things to Consider:

Review the route before the ride.  

Know the weather before you ride.

Pack an extra layer, a warm afternoon cools quickly.

Spending money is a good idea.

A variety of beverages will be available, not just beer.

 

Volunteer at Mtn Sports Festival Bike Corral

Bike Corral

Volunteer with AoB at the Mountain Sports Festival’s bicycle corral May 27th – Sunday, May 29th. AoB hosts a bicycle corral, to encourage bicycle participation by providing people a safe spot to store their bicycles while they enjoy the festival.

AoB will be parking bikes from Friday through Sunday with a variety of time options that suite your schedule. There is a time slot for the  early birds, afternooners, and night owls. Simply, review the times and dates on the AoB volunteer form and select the ones that work best for you. An AoB representative will follow up with you to confirm the details.

Thank you for volunteer with Asheville on Bikes. When you show, we grow.

AoB Welcomes AVL’s First Bike Corral w/ City of Asheville & NCDOT

Haywoodbikecorralsuletalks

Over the last year, The City of Asheville, North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), West Asheville Business Association (WABA), and AoB partnered to explore the option of providing a bicycle corral somewhere along the Haywood corridor. A bicycle corral is a series of on-street bicycle racks that can provide parking for fifteen or more bicycles.  

In the summer of 2014 AoB’s director, Mike Sule and Barb Mee, the city’s pedestrian and bicycle coordinator, presented the concept of a bike corral to WABA since Haywood Rd has some of the highest bicycle counts in city. “Following the presentation, everyone supported the addition of a  bike corral. Frankly, I was a little taken back that the entire room was ready to move forward with the corral. Generally, there are a few skeptics. It just goes to show, there is  tremendous support for advancing active transportation throughout the business community,” says Sule.

Once WABA had endorsed the corral, the city was required to secure an encroachment agreement from NCDOT because Haywood Rd is an NCDOT maintained highway. “NCDOT was pleased to have worked collaboratively with the community on the bike corral project, we understand that this is a project of local importance. We were pleased to provide the encroachment agreement,” states Kristina Solberg, NCDOT Division 13 Planning Engineer.   

“NCDOT, Asheville’s transportation department, and the business community were incredible to work with. Each agency understood the value and worked diligently to respond to the need. The bike corral is a clear example that Asheville is a community that knows how to work well together. I appreciate the spirit of cooperation and inclusion throughout this project. I’m also ready to celebrate,” says Sule

First day on the job & a full house.

First day on the job & a full house.

Vice-Mayor Gwen Wisler, who is a bike commuter, herself, and has been active in Asheville’s cycling advocacy will serve as the city’s dignitary at the ribbon cutting. We are excited for the addition of our first on-street bike corral – installing multimodal infrastructure like this is one is a step toward meeting Council’s vision of a well-planned and livable community, and of transportation and accessibility. The City is also thrilled to have business support of this project,” states Wisler.

On Thursday, April 28th the community is welcome to participate in the ribbon cutting to welcome Asheville’s first bicycle corral. The event begins at 6pm. Representatives from each of the partnering organizations will say a few words at the ribbon cutting.

Following the ceremony, Westville Pub welcomes all to continue the celebration with music by DJ Jut Rut and a portion of New Belgium Brewing and Catawba Brewing Co. sales dedicated to support Asheville on Bikes.

Haywood Corral Ribbon Cutting:

6pm – 6:30pm     Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

6:30 – 8:00pm     Westville Pub Bike Corral Celebration

Haywood Rd Ribbon Cutting Event 

Asheville Citizen Times covers bike corral ribbon cutting.

                                    

Mountain XPress Addresses Bike/Walk Needs

Mike Sule Strive Not to Drive 2015 by Jake FrankelAsheville on Bikes is helping to make a difference in Asheville’s liveability. Your support powers the effort. Re-upped your membership yet?

Asheville on Bikes is trying to mount pressure on the city to make sure the transportation plan prioritizes bike lanes and greenways.

Jake Frankel does an excellent job articulating the challenges for improving safe active transportation. We need champions from government, business, and neighbors to coordinate and sustain the push. We’re all in this together. Let’s roll forward. http://mountainx.com/news/one-step-at-a-time/

Asheville Tries to Keep Pace with Rising Demands for Sidewalks, Bike Lanes

Posted on March 20, 2015 by Jake Frankel
In 2010, hundreds of people marched down Tunnel Road advocating for the construction of a sidewalk between the Veterans Restoration Quarters and the VA Medical Center. That sidewalk has since come to fruition, but a report shows that Asheville is falling short of its goals.

In 2010, hundreds of people marched down Tunnel Road advocating for the construction of a sidewalk between the Veterans Restoration Quarters and the VA Medical Center. That sidewalk has since come to fruition, but a report shows that Asheville is falling short of its goals.

Amid rising interest in transportation alternatives, local activists have been stepping up efforts to make Asheville safer for walking and biking. But while some strides have been made that are worth celebrating, the path to greater advances seems to be lined with historic neglect and budgetary hurdles.

The city still has a long walk ahead to fulfill its 2004 goal of building 108 miles of sidewalks. In the last decade, Asheville has constructed only about 18 miles worth, according to a city report released last year.

Despite the slow rate of growth, the report does highlight some key improvements. For example, a mile-long stretch of worn grass and rocky paths along Tunnel Road — previously known as “the goat trail,” where veterans walk each day between the Veterans Restoration Quarters and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center — has been paved. But overall, says Asheville City Council member and longtime sidewalks advocate Chris Pelly, the average construction rate of 2 miles per year hasn’t been sufficient.

In fact, in a letter he penned to fellow Council members, Pelly noted that for the next five years, the city has about $550,000 slated for new sidewalks — enough to build only about one mile per year. “Despite clear and demonstrated need, the pace of progress seems to be slowing,” Pelly wrote. “We are effectively relegating many growing neighborhoods to decadeslong waits before residents can walk safely on their own streets.”

Each spring, Asheville on Bikes Executive Director Mike Sule and other advocates help organize a Strive Not to Drive campaign to encourage multimodal transit.

A recent survey commissioned by the North Carolina chapter of the American Planning Association found that living in walkable communities is a top priority for the millennial generation, a young demographic highly sought by cities for their growing economic clout. It’s no surprise, then, that the local business community has been increasingly supportive of multimodal advocacy organizations such as Asheville on Bikes.

“I think that for our business community, as they begin to value more and more walkability and bikeability — [for them] to help with some of these challenges is going to be critical,” says Mike Sule, AoB’s executive director.

Over the last two years, the city’s Neighborhood Advisory Committee hosted meetings in each sector of Asheville, which encompasses 50 neighborhoods. When attendees were asked to rate their concerns, a lack of sidewalks topped the list, according to Pelly, who serves on the committee. Pedestrian and bicycle counts tallied by the city indicate that the amount of walkers and bikers has dramatically increased since 2009 in a variety of areas, including those around Charlotte Street, Kimberly and Clingman avenues.

In the wake of a high-profile pedestrian fatality on Merrimon Avenue earlier this year, City Council held a retreat where it declared that new sidewalks should be a higher priority. But specific funding wasn’t determined. Pelly has proposed that the city commit $500,000 a year toward construction.

Sidewalk March Asheville by Jake Frankel

“I believe there is broad and significant pent-up demand for sidewalks and pedestrian improvements,” Pelly says in his letter. “If not now, then when? … Two miles a year is inadequate to the demands of our growing city.”

Meanwhile, the city is working on drafting a Multimodal Transportation Plan that is geared to “look at the system in a comprehensive way and will measure mobility deficiencies citywide and will develop and establish a priority system.”

Scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015, the process will involve several public meetings to solicit feedback. The overarching goal is “to create an effective and progressive plan that encourages health-oriented and sustainable transportation, reduces barriers to access transportation and connects residents and visitors with the places they want and need to go with improved safety, efficiency and accessibility,” according to the city transportation department’s website.

Completing the Streets

Sule and his group are trying to mount pressure on the city to make sure the transportation plan prioritizes bike lanes and greenways. In the past five years, he says, Asheville “has made considerable leaps and bounds taking on multimodal issues.” Those efforts included designating several miles of bike lanes and painting streets with bike-friendly “sharrow” markers, as well as opening new sections of greenway.

The improvements helped earn Asheville a bronze rating by the League of American Bicyclists, which evaluates cities across the country for their bikeability. And Sule hopes that rating will go up to silver in coming years.

Each spring Asheville on Bikes organizes a St. Patrick’s Day community ride to helping bring the riding community together and show support for infrastructure improvements.

Each spring Asheville on Bikes organizes a St. Patrick’s Day community ride to helping bring the riding community together and show support for infrastructure improvements.

A major improvement will be the expansive makeover of the River Arts District, which will include a wide array of interconnected sidewalks, bike lanes, parks and greenways. The city is partnering with a range of private parties and government agencies on those projects, funded in part by a $14.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

More comprehensive partnerships like that will be instrumental in making further progress, says Sule, who notes that many of the area’s roads are actually overseen by the N.C. Department of Transportation rather than the city.

The state agency adopted a “Complete Streets” policy in 2009, which directs it to “consider and incorporate” modes of transportation other than single-passenger vehicles when designing new projects or making improvements. That’s an improvement for a department Sule sees as having a “history of marginalizing bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure.”

However, the stated policy is still a long way from making the NCDOT “an exemplary model” when it comes to implementation, Sule adds. And his assessment is shared by Paul Black, director of the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization, which helps direct major transit decisions across the region. “NCDOT is … not in the sidewalk business, so there is no easy way to provide sidewalks outside of city limits, even where the land use really needs them.”

In an attempt to increase bike safety on a dangerous incline, the state DOT did approve a climbing lane on Haywood Road, but didn’t contribute any of the roughly $100,000 in funding the construction required. Instead, the money for the lane, which gives slower-moving cyclists a designated area to climb the hill seperate from other traffic, came from the city and New Belgium Brewing, which is building a major new facility nearby at the edge of the River Arts District.

Sule has a long list of other DOT streets he’d like to see improved with bike lanes and sidewalks. The stretch of Riverside Drive from Amboy to Tunnel Road, and Broadway near downtown, top the list, as well as the rapidly developing South Slope area of downtown. Meanwhile, residents of the Hazel Mill, Merrimon, Five Points, Charlotte Street and New Haw Creek neighborhoods have been particularly vocal recently in their push for new pedestrian infrastructure.

In 2012, Buncombe County passed a Greenways and Trails Master Plan to eventually build about 83 miles of pathways around the area. Many would link existing parks, greenways, residential areas and schools; several follow waterways such as the Swannanoa and French Broad rivers. But a 2010 feasibility study for one of the proposed corridors suggests that the price could be high. Building an 18-mile greenway along the Swannanoa River/U.S. 70 corridor from the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex on Azalea Road in Asheville to Ridgecrest, east of Black Mountain, would cost an estimated $10.3 million. It’s hard to say where that kind of money might come from. Since passing the plan, the county has yet to build a single mile of paths.

The ongoing lack of county action is a sore subject for Sule and others. “I think there’s tepid political support for that at the county level,” he says. “There is absolutely more that I’d like to see done.”

So it seems that for major multimodal progress to keep pace with demand, activists will have to put pressure on politicians to start doing a better job of putting their money where their mouths are. “The biggest challenge for anything in the transportation realm is lack of resources,” notes Black.

Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

Shop at Greenlife and Whole Foods Next Tuesday!

Starve your fridge! Do your last-minute gift shopping! On Tuesday, Dec. 16th it’s Shop ’til You Drop at Greenlife & Whole Foods, when Asheville on Bikes receives 5% of all profits on everything in both stores.

AoB will have a table set up at each location, so swing by, say hello and stock up on all your holiday essentials.

Thirsty for fun? Whole Food’s Tap Haus will also be offering $3 pints on Tuesday, Dec. 16th.

More at our Eventbrite page!

Training for Bike/Ped Documentation

Congratulations for powering Asheville on Bikes’ participation in the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project, a collaboration celebrating its fifth year in 2014. Welcome to our training page! We strongly encourage participating counters to view the full 15-minute training video for complete understanding of the count methodology. The following is a brief summary intended solely for overview/planning purposes.

What to Wear

Safety vest or bright, highly visible clothing.

What to Take

  • Count forms and instructions
  • Clipboard and 2-3 pens or pencils
  • Watch or timer to measure 15-minute increments
  • Weather-related or personal comfort items such as a folding chair, hat, sunscreen, jacket, snack

View and download count form PDF here: ScreenlineCountForm

Sneak peek at your count form

Using the Count Form

  • Note name and phone number for any follow-up questions
  • Note intersection location
  • Note date and specific 2-hour time frame
  • Note weather conditions
  • Every 15 minutes, begin a fresh tally in a new 15-minute section of the count form

Counting Methodology (begins at 3:40 in the training video)

Persons participating as counters should stand or sit in a safe, off-street location that provides a full view of the entire intersection. Persons in automobiles, motorcycles, mopeds and motorized scooters are NOT counted. Persons entering and exiting buses are counted as pedestrians or bicyclists depending on counter’s observations. Each Bicyclist, Pedestrian, or Other Person traveling through the intersection in any direction (and without the use of a motorized vehicle as described above) is to be counted individually.

  • A Bicyclist is a person traveling on a bicycle, tricycle, unicycle, tandem, or similar vehicle. (Asheville’s well-recognized PubCycle carries as many as 13 individuals, all counted individually.) Bicyclists are categorized as male or female to the best of the counter’s ability. Bicyclists are categorized as helmet-wearing or non-helmet-wearing to the best of the counter’s ability.
  • A Pedestrian is a person traveling on foot. Persons using ANY assistive device (such as a motorized or non-motorized wheelchair), or riding in strollers or child carriers are also pedestrians.
  • Other Persons are those persons traveling in a manner not described above, such as those using inline skates or a skateboard.

(Towards the end of the training, Laurie discusses how to count assistive devices and made an error.  Individuals using ANY assistive devices should be counted as pedestrians.  Users of mopeds and motorbikes should not be counted as cyclists or pedestrians, even if they are using sidewalks, bike lanes or greenways.  We apologize for any confusion.  ALL persons using assistive devices should be counted as pedestrians.)

Questions? Laurie Stradley, lstradle@unca.edu, 828-258-7711 Barb Mee, City of Asheville, bmee@ashevillenc.gov, 828-232-4540 More about the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project. This training video graciously created by Laurie Stradley, UNCA. More about Asheville on Bikes. Ready to sign up to count?