I am writing to oppose the Merrimon Ave widening project as it has been proposed.
I own a home in West Asheville and have been a North Carolina resident for 3 years. Before the move, I lived in Portland Oregon where commuting by bicycle was easy and a common way of life. Developers and transportation authorities respected and worked closely with both the public and bicycle advocacy groups to ensure safe and fair infrastructure.
In as much as I wish I could commute more in Asheville, I am sorry to say that it is simply not safe to do so, and the Merrimon widening project, in its current proposal, is a reason why.
I am sure others will bring to your attention the potential for business loss, increased speeds on Merrimon, and complete lack of respect for the local community in the name of more traffic. And they are more than valid reasons to reconstruct the plan. But mine is much more focused: Asheville has an embarrassingly low number of bike lanes, period. And the opportunities to widen lanes given the current landscape are few and far between. Yet with Merrimon, there is a huge opportunity to provide cyclists a safe corridor connecting the north and south.
With all due respect, allowing more cars to go faster up and down Merrimon is stupid because it puts pedestrian lives at higher risk when it could be doing the exact opposite. And the NCDOT knows better. Listen to the public you have ignored for the sake of business and profits. Listen to advocacy groups like Asheville on Bikes. We live here. This city is changing and the old paradigms need to change with it. Honestly, how many success stories from cities like Portland do you need?
Please do not continue with the widening as planned. You have a opportunity here.
Thank you for your time.
Sam Yale DVM, CA