This week has been a good and interesting week to be someone involved with and interested in the world of cycling. Whether watching Le Tour De France and pulling for your favorite team/person or being involved at the advocacy level or being a recreational/fitness cyclist, it has been a packed week of events and entertainment.
I’ll start with my ride with the “Big J”, who is quickly rounding back into riding condition. We had good evening jaunt on Tuesday. It was short in total miles but long in energy expended and even longer in quality of enjoyment. We essentially tracked around the Pigeon Valley section of Haywood County and enjoyed a brisk river grade run down and back to Canton from Bethel.
Our local advocacy group, BicycleHaywoodNC, had its monthly meeting on Tuesday at High Noon in the Gateway Club in Waynesville. Our special guest was Claudia Nix, who is our local NC Bicycle Committee representative. Claudia covered a number of important topics including the importance of our participation in the French Broad River Metropolitan Organization as it is a major planner for our region. Ron Leatherwood, BicycleHaywoodNC member and former NC DOT Board member advised the group that 6000 people commute from Haywood County to Buncombe County each day for work.
Claudia also discussed the role of the NC Bicycle Committee and shared with us a copy of the current goals of the Committee. She reported on initial meetings with the new Secretary of Transportation and the new Deputy Secretary, who she reports is an avid cyclist. Both individuals speak highly of multi-modal transportation issues and are seemingly willing to work toward those goals and away from a car-centric policy. Finally, Claudia reported that the Transportation Board has just recently accepted that all roads in N.C. should fall under a Complete Streets Designation and have multi-modal transportation as a major organizing point for road construction in the future. She was also pleased to report that she had just found out that the NC DOT has amended their placement of rumble strips to align with the outside white line rather than the middle of the gutter along dual highways. This should increase the safety factor for cyclists where those roads are also the designation bike pathways (not to be confused with bike lanes).
In other agenda items, the Advisory Council agreed to support a proposed “backbone” cycling route through Waynesville. The next step in this process will be to approach the Waynesville Board of Alderman and solicit official backing for the route. Council members reviewed proposed routes ridden by members and settled upon a route that should be accessible to the widest range of ages and fitness levels. The route should also come into contact with the majority of the retail merchants and public offices. Additionally, the proposed route makes use of the existing greenway that is under construction in Waynesville.
In final activity, the Council voted to work with some upcoming Block Parties in Waynesville and to offer Bike Corrals and other cyclists related activities in order to increase the awareness of families cycling to these events. The Council also welcomed to the meeting CeCe Hipps, Director of the Haywood Chamber of Commerce, and Ashley Rice, representative of the Tourism Development Authority. Beginning conversations have started regarding BicycleHaywoodNC working with the Chamber and the TDA to provide a cycling event in the spring of 2010 with the hopes of increasing tourism to the area.
So, all of this sandwiched between watching the Tour in the morning and the evening has made for one fine cycling week. My ‘better half” has joined me each evening watching the recap of the day’s Tour events and has now become quite knowledgeable on race strategy, what an echelon is, and what “putting time into the Shlecks” means! I’ve yet to be able to explain effectively Contador’s dropping of his teammate but, then I haven’t heard a reasonable explanation by anyone yet! Three more days of the Tour and then I go into Tour withdrawal…