Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NC BIKE/PED SUMMIT HELD IN ASHEVILLE, NC

Today, February 23, 2011, I was pleased to attend one of the 5 sessions of the N.C. Bike/Ped Summit meetings held around our State. The Summit brought together advocates, business leaders, DOT officials, law enforcement personnel, and various planners to discuss and set goals and strategies for the Department of Transportation for the next 10 years in the State of North Carolina

Bike/Ped Summit Attendees

(Getting to know you… before the start of the day’s session)

The event was held at the Buncombe County Commissioners’ offices in downtown Asheville. Getting there was interesting…

I left home this morning riding the Harley to the meeting. It was a nice crisp day  with blue skies abundant. The location in Asheville was too far for me to pedal to so I decided that arriving on a 46 mpg Harley was better than a 12 mpg Ford F150. I was, as I am most days now, trying to be cost conscious with gasoline prices skyrocketing because of what just might happen some day somewhere sometime – otherwise known as the Middle East. It also seemed important to reduce my carbon footprint on the way to a bike/ped summit.

The ride over was uneventful but pretty. I had to keep a sharp eye out for the heavy Asheville traffic as I made my way to Pack Square and the location of the meeting. We were directed to park in the Valley Street parking garage. Hmm, turns out it was blocked off pretty much in all directions and all other parking I found was marked “Get your butt towed if you park here!” or words to that effect. After riding around for 20 minutes or so, I managed to get parked in a hotel paid parking lot. After handing over my $3.00, I went to the meeting but, whoops, I was in the wrong building. Seems I made my way to the City of Asheville offices instead of the Buncombe County Courthouse.

I received a nice redirection and headed next door to the Buncombe County Courthouse. Whoops, door is locked, gotta go to the other side of the block to get in. Well, a little walking on a pretty sunny day never hurt anyone. I made my way to the side entrance and was greeted nicely by a uniformed Buncombe County Deputy at a security station. After handing over my backpack containing my phone, glasses, and notepad, I discovered – Whoops! – can’t go in here with a pocket knife in your pocket. Fortunately, I thought to ask the officer if I was in the right place for the meeting. Whoops! I wasn’t – it was in a building two blocks down and around the turnabout. He didn’t know if I would get searched again so I opted to walk back to the Harley, deposit the pocket knife in my tour pack, make sure that I didn’t have any other contraband and then headed back the 3 blocks (now) to the meeting. Turns out it was on Valley St, which was blocked off on both ends with no signage saying where to go. Whoops!

Finally, with the kind help of yet another Buncombe County employee I found my way to the proper location where I was “Whoops!” strip searched… (Just kidding…) I actually began to see people whom I knew!

The Meeting Itself…

Orientation and Welcome to Bike/Ped Summit

(Getting started – the introduction and orientation)

The meeting consisted of a general introduction and review of stats relevant to N.C. cyclists and pedestrians and a review of outcomes met from the 2000 NC Bike/Ped Summit. It was good to see that some significant advances have been made in the last decade. Of course, there is a long way to go for parity between pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists in relation to shared road usage.

We were broken into 3 focus groups (cyclists, pedestrians, motorists) and sent to individual rooms where our tasks were to develop the top 5 problems facing our interest group and then develop 5 strategies to suggest to NC DOT to resolve those issues.

Our cyclist group listed:

    • Cultural Change
    • Effective Equal Enforcement
    • Work Zone Management
    • Interagency Cooperation/Coordination
    • Inadequate Facilities

After developing our strategies for these issue areas, we reconvened with the other two focus groups and presented the information to the assembled group.

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(Presenters from the pedestrian and cyclist focus groups.)

To no one’s surprise, there was a lot of overlap between the focus groups with similar issues identified by each group. There was a great deal of consistency in the remarks made at the Summit.

The results of the 5 Summit meetings will be compiled into aggregated lists by the Review Team. A survey of all the suggested strategies will then be sent to each of today’s attendees and we will vote on the final 5 strategies to be presented to NC DOT for the next 10 year developmental plan. We were told to expect the surveys in early March.

All in all, it was a good process to participate in and I’m pleased to have represented our local advocacy group. I’ll be looking forward to the State wide results in early March!

Until later,

- Zeke

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