Friday, April 17, 2015

BicycleHaywoodNC - Matters of Note!


(BicycleHaywoodNC Council meeting attendees)
 
Last night’s  April 2015 meeting of BicycleHaywoodNC was well attended at Sid’s On Main in Canton, NC. We were pleased to have a number of guests attending.They brought us up to date on pending and received grants and a proposal for BicycleHaywoodNC to become sponsors of a Health on Wheels group.

Chair Jennifer Jacobson called the meeting to order and introduced Charlie Clogston of Blue Ridge Bicycle Club and Melissa Rocket of Mountainwise. Along with our own member, Michelle Trantham, they have developed the beginnings of a ride program to work with survivors of chronic diseases. In their model, survivors of cancer, heart disease, and other medical maladies would be supported in bicycle rides as they recover. The rides would initially be of short duration and would be adaptable to the individual rider’s physical and mental functioning at the time. Hopes are that the local medical community would support the program through referrals and/or other means. The program would have a number of commonalities with novice ride groups. Ride leaders and “ride guides” would support the participants during the events. The hope is that, as survivors gain strength and experience, they will take on the roles of ride leader and “ride guides”. Ride guides are viewed as supportive members of the Council that would ride within the group and offer guidance and support to any participant that might request additional assistance. There is much more to come on this topic!
(Seth Hendler-Voss addresses the group)
 
Canton Town Manager Seth Hendler-Voss attended the meeting and updated Council members on a very nice pedestrian/bike grant recently received by the town. The grant, one of 10 awarded in N.C., will allow the town to move forward with planning to make the municipality more pedestrian and bike friendly. The plan will be complementary to existing Comprehensive Haywood County Bike Plan and the Blue Ridge Regional plan. Hendler-Voss also discussed long term intentions to improve access to the Rough Creek mountain bike trails in the Beaverdam community of Haywood County.

 A couple of ride notes...

Despite a week of near solid rain, I’ve managed to squeeze in a couple of rides.  It was certainly a pretty weekend here in the Western North Carolina to be out and about. Last Thursday evening, we had a small group ride intended to help new and newly returning riders to learn/relearn how to ride in a group and to work on their fitness. The ride only attracted people whose names start with “C”: Cecil, Carolyn, and Carena.  The three of us enjoyed a 4.5 mile loop around beautiful Lake Junaluska. The initial lap was what I call “Old Man Pace”, meaning my pace. This was Carolyn’s first time on a bike since last year and I’ve not logged that many miles myself. Carena is another story. She rides quite a bit and is in the process of prepping for a 100k in the next few weeks.

The loop around Lake Junaluska is about as flat as you’ll find in the mountains. We left the grounds twice in making the transit of the lake. Once was to cut across to Old County Road and come out under the dam and the second was when we left South Lake Shore Drive for US 19 and a half mile jaunt to Wheldon Road, which is the start/finish point of the Blue Ridge Breakaway. A second lap around the lake brought us near a 10 mile ride for the day.

On Sunday, I ventured out by myself for a solo ride again under wonderful blue skies, white fluffy clouds, and warmer than usual temperatures. This time I was on my Fuji CCR, which I haven’t ridden in over a year. My Salsa Fargo has simply become my bike of choice so it gets most of the workouts.  The Fuji is about three times lighter in weight than the Fargo so I was expecting to feel as if I were flying when I got into a steady cadence. Well, not so much as it turns out.

I was surprised at how uncomfortable I was in adapting to the Fuji geometry, skinny tires, triple ring, and gear changes. I could have used a good dose or two of a dry lubricant myself to get rid of some of my “rust.” And the saddle, oh, the saddle! After 30 minutes, I was sorely missing my Brooks on the Fargo.

I saw only one other person riding a bike on this day, which really surprised me. Fellow BicycleHaywoodNC member, George Ivey, and I crossed paths near Bethel, NC. Otherwise, I saw no other cyclists on this sunny Sunday afternoon. My five mile return to Canton along Old River Road (NC 215) was pleasant except for a few moments when the headwind made an appearance. The recently repaved road retains a smooth surface and allowed me a very smooth trip back.

Politics, politics, politics…

Legislators, in Raleigh, are making yet more attempts to place barriers in the way of alternative forms of transportation. A bill (SenateBill 617) currently under consideration would require a two thirds vote of the NC Transportation Committee to approve ANY ROAD DIET in North Carolina. As I’m quite sure the introducers of the bill plan, getting an approval vote of two thirds of a committee historically non-supportive of people who ride bicycles, would be next to impossible and likely kill any local efforts at reducing high speed traffic and adding safe bike lanes and facilities for pedestrians. The following text is from the bill itself:

“AN ACT TO REFORM VARIOUS PROVISIONS OF THE LAW RELATED TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT.”

A provision in the bill appears to make it more difficult to accommodate bicyclists, seems to contradict the state’s Complete Streets policy, and seems to politicize local development decisions by requiring approval by the politically-appointed Transportation Board.  The bill provision is as follows:

(b)        Reduction of travel lanes to accommodate the addition of bike lanes within the existing paved and marked travel lanes of any State highway system street or highway located within a municipality shall be approved by a vote of two-thirds of all the members of the Board of Transportation.”

On a more hopeful note, House Bill 232 would direct the NC Department of Transportation to review and investigate existing laws aimed at updating safety laws regarding bicycles. North Carolina hasn’t revised those rules since around 1974 so there is a hope that a new review will result in laws that advance the safety of people who ride bikes in this state. The original membership of the committee raised some concerns that there were insufficient representatives from the bicycle community on the study group. Latest word is that those concerns were addressed by the bill sponsors. The bill has passed the House and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

And finally… On Wednesday of this week, one of the heavier rain days, I noted bicycles on bike racks at two local businesses and a third person riding a bike in downtown Waynesville. The first bike I noted was at a local mattress store and was there through breakfast and lunch so I’m guessing an employee rode to work. A second bike was located at the new bike rack at the new Bojangles at lunch and the third bike was unfortunately being ridden on the sidewalk in downtown Waynesville, which is both unsafe and against local ordinances for the downtown area. Still, it was good to see people riding bikes even in inclement weather.

Until later,

-Zeke
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