Dear Mike Clark, NCDOT,
I am opposed to the initial designs that you presented on January 8th for the Merrimon project. I would like you to have more public comment time and meet with neighbors and the City of Asheville in order to design a “complete street.” I want you to build a design whose main goal is connecting neighborhood residents to the businesses on the corridor – a design that treats walking and biking as equally valuable, perhaps more valuable, compared to car trips.
My wife and I regularly bike with our children and several months ago my wife arrived home in tears with my daughter in tow. She had been biking near downtown on South Charlotte Street (also an NCDOT road) and, even though she was safely in her lane traveling downhill at a reasonable speed, the only other vehicle on the road (car) pulled close alongside her and the driver yelled, “Get off the road you f—–ng b–ch.”
Have you ever tried to explain to an innocent 5 year old girl what a “f—–g b–ch” is? South Charlotte St is a 5 lane road much like your initial Merrimon design, and much like your initial Merrimon design, families have no choice but to use it when going between certain destinations, like the baseball stadium or White Labs or the South Slope. Posted speed is 45mph! When a road is only designed for cars, I think it makes our drivers, myself included, behave poorly towards other road users like walkers and bikers. Based on our experiences, the 2 foot bike lane you have drawn up for North Merrimon is a non-starter and you are asking us to put our lives at risk in order to attempt to use a bike lane that is too narrow and offers no protection from high speed cars.
We desperately want to safely bike to the Brew and View in North Asheville at 675 Merrimon Ave, from the area of Coleman and WT Weaver. We also want to extend our current family biking adventures to include Luella’s (501 Merrimon Ave) after visiting the Asheville Botanic Garden near UNCA. We need some type of continuous Greenway connection across Merrimon at WT Weaver. That intersection is unsafe both now and in your design, because your are not accounting for families like ours that are trying to walk and bike more. When we cross the street we look like this: 1 adult on a big heavy bike with two kids; a second adult on their own bike, with the adults taking time to dismount and walk. Dismounting is inconvenient (but the only safe-ish way we can see to get across) and the light frequently sends turning cars right into our group as we try to get across before the walk signal expires. We would also like to be able to ride our bikes easily to the Toy Box at 793 Merrimon after going to the WT Weaver park – we’ve never been able to do this because of obvious safety problems for bicycle riders along this corridor.
Please change course and listen what the City of Asheville and groups like Asheville on Bikes are saying about this corridor. Asheville on Bikes has published their comment and
https://ashevilleonbikes.com/asheville-on-bikes-official-merrimon-widening-comment-u-5781-u-5 782. I agree with everything they are saying. There is significant latent demand in North Asheville for walking and cycling. This road is a key link to help North Asheville residents become more active and safely reach the businesses along their neighborhood corridor.