Thursday, June 18, 2009

Zeke Attends FBRMPO… whew!

Today, I had the opportunity to attend the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting that was held at the Land of the Sky regional offices in West Asheville, North Carolina. As this was my first ever meeting of this particular group, I was quite interested to see how the whole process worked, who would be in attendance, and what would be addressed. I've been encouraged to attend this meeting by our local North Carolina Bicycle Committee member Claudia Nix. Today's meeting was actually a joint meeting of two subsets of the FBRMPO. Sandwiched between the two meetings, was a presentation on Livable Communities. A great emphasis was placed upon multi-modalities of transportation and making communities more livable. Numerous points were made regarding the nature of alternative forms of transportation for those people who either cannot drive or who choose not to drive.

The afternoon session of the meeting addressed numerous projects that have already been discussed and provided for recommendation to the North Carolina Department of Transportation. It became quite obvious that this group of concerned citizens wields significant power in determining what projects might reach the implementation stage of the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles. The good news, I discovered, was that, overall,  the committee seemed attuned to the needs of multiple modes of transportation. There were a number of projects approved that included bicycle lanes and walking paths. Significant attention was being paid to closing gaps and sidewalks. Opportunities for public comment were abundant and public input that arrived via e-mail and snail mail were shared with the committee. Present at the meeting, was the owner of Bio-Wheels in Asheville and the committee chair of the Buncombe County bicycle advisory committee. Both gentlemen spoke up in support of the various approved projects for improving pedestrian and bicycle access in Asheville and Buncombe County. One member of the committee, from Biltmore Forest, addressed the two gentlemen and asked them to attempt to get their fellow bicyclists to wear brighter clothing and ride in a single file when traversing the city streets of Biltmore Forest.

The bad news, I was to discover, from this meeting was that my home county was very poorly represented at the meeting. In fact, the committee chair announced that representatives from Haywood and Waynesville have missed two or more meetings and were therefore being dropped from the quorum count. The only county representative present at the meeting was Commissioner Skeeter Curtis. The town of Maggie Valley had received committee approval of one project to build a sidewalk along Moody Farm Road. There were no other projects for Haywood County mentioned and, unfortunately, this committee is now planning projects into the year 2014 and 2016.

For those interested in such things, this particular post is being prepared in Dragon dictating software version 10.1. I have recently purchased this in order to see whether the accuracy and quality of the program has improved since the earlier versions. My past experiences with the Dragon ended in frustration because the software could not understand my Southern Appalachian mountain dialect. I'm pleased to say that this version so far seems to be doing much better. So there you have it for now, a real-time report on my experiences  attending the French broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting today.


Until later,

-- Zeke

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