Asheville North Carolina is rolling out the next stages of its Multi-Modal transportation initiative at this year’s Strive Not To Drive program. This week-long event will illuminate how the city is planning improvements with pedestrian, cycling, vehicle and public transportation infrastructure. It is also a call to the citizens of Asheville to evaluate their transportation choices and to explore other sustainable mobility options that are becoming available.
For the citizens of Asheville, the future looks very promising. Since 2009 the city planners of Asheville have been on the fast track to accommodate all of the transportation needs of its many citizens.
Though improving rapidly, Asheville is caught in the cross roads of being a very hip city, while also having a clunky and often dangerous transportation infrastructure that doesn’t meets its citizens’ needs. This lovely town sits inside a beautiful valley in the Appalachian mountains; but what make the city beautiful also comes with it own challenges. Asheville sprawls through these valleys and mountains, making it often dangerous and inconvenient to travel in anything but a car.
Just a few years ago Asheville did very little to address these issues, or to promote anything but automobile traffic. Only recently has the city focused on a comprehensive plan that values pedestrians, cyclists, and cars. Our municipality is now making a big push to fill in the gaps where sidewalks do not exist, and is creating greenways along beautiful rivers and creeks throughout the city that will eventually connect most areas in the region.
Asheville is also creating sharrows and bike lanes along popular through-ways making biking safer; and it is making the public transportation system usable for more people and greener with new hybrid buses . Throughout this integrated process they are tying health education, environmental protection and safety to the issue of public transportation.
In the future Asheville will hopefully be a model for other cities striving to create alternative transportation that encourages healthy habits, as well as more sustainable mass transit. With a more diversified transportation infrastructure, Asheville will reap the benefits of less traffic jammed roads packed with single passenger vehicles guzzling gallons of fossil fuel, as well as cleaner air and a much healthier, happier population.
Already, Asheville’s efforts seem to be paying off as the city was recently designated as a bronze level bike-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists. This recognition may just be the first, as our town seems to be heading for platinum recognition.
Call to Citizens Across the US
As a long time resident of Asheville, the process of creating a more bike-friendly and sustainable city has been sometimes frustrating and slow, but I applaud the efforts that many of the citizens and commnity groups have already made. Not only have our citizens raised awareness to help promote these issues, but they have also helped sympathetic city leaders get elected and make improvements. If we want sustainable cities, we must vote in leaders who share these values. As the scales begin to tip within our city council, the progress towards sustainability seems inevitable.