Asheville On Bikes

Step Right Up // Richard Liston Answers AoB’s Candidate Forum Questionnaire

Tell us something about your transportation habits. How do you get around Asheville?

I’m currently driving my father’s 1999 Chevy Tracker from where I’m staying in West Asheville. Prior to that when I was living on Town Mountain for a couple of years I often walked to and from downtown down and up the mountain. I own a bike but it is in great need of repair and is currently unusable.

What do you consider to be the most significant transportation advancement in Asheville and what impact does it have on our community?

I haven’t studied the problem in sufficient depth to come up with an answer yet. I kind of doubt that any of the candidates have, or anyone on City Council. I’ve got a few good ideas, but it is clear to me that we primarily need to bring a sound process for making decisions that benefit all parties into City Hall. There are short-term, medium-term and long-term solutions. To create truly workable solutions, I would emphatically encourage the city to seek grants from the National Science Foundation and other agencies to bring together local engineering and architectural firms, educational institutions and other representatives of the community to design and implement solutions in each of the three time frames. So we would see some short-term solutions that will ease some issues, medium-term solutions that would go further and would blaze the trail for Asheville to become a state, national and world leader in creating a transportation system for the times we live in and adaptable for the future.

Please identify one way in which you’ve worked to make Asheville safer for pedestrians, transit users, and / or cyclists. What did you learn from this experience?

Well, I’m often one of those pedestrians. So for one thing I pay attention to when I walk across the street to the signage and the traffic. I’m aware that we have a diverse set of drivers in this area and not everyone who happens to be driving here is paying as much attention or is as familiar with the area as the residents are, and not doing so as a pedestrian is unsafe for pedestrians and drivers as well. Having said that, I’m aware that drivers should take more responsibility for the safety of pedestrians, but drivers are not only so often unclear about what their responsibility actually is, and they’re also so often in such a rushed that they aren’t paying as much attention as they should. I’ve also found quite a few locations in Asheville where signage and pedestrian/traffic flow is simply too dangerous. One clear place, for example, is on Merrimon near Coleman Avenue.

What do you consider to be Asheville’s primary transportation challenge and how do you propose to fix it?

This is answered previously but I’ll repeat it: Asheville is poised to be a world leader in fixing not only transportation problems, but a host of other problems. If we partner engineering firms, architectural firms, UNCA, AB Tech, Warren Wilson, Asheville on Bikes, local environmental protection groups, local business owners, seek funding from creative sources to the tune of tens of millions of dollars from the National Science Foundation, who would love nothing more than to see Americans actually able to pull something like this off in their local communities—I mean, if we can take close-up photos of Pluto, then we can fix our own transportation system—making Asheville a blueprint for the rest of America, and the world, for how to do “everything local.”

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