14 March 2011

Back on the grid

Who knew Washington, DC, would have better data and voice connections in the sub-basements of the Federal buildings than it does at street level? Crazy!

Awesome week at the National Bike Summit -- I never would have imagined DC as being a model bike city ... dare I even say "European-esque?" Or is that a nasty sentiment? At any rate, the District has come a long way in a very, very short amount of time, and all of a sudden, I find myself contemplating a family vacation there, complete with bike rentals and/or Capitol BikeShare by which we can explore our nation's Capitol ...

The photo above is the center of Pennsylvania Avenue. Let me say that again: The photo above is the center of Pennsylvania Avenue. From the Capitol to the White House, you can ride down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue. Safely. And connect from there to miles of bike lanes and greenways elsewhere in the city. And as we're seeing replicated across the country, what's good for cyclists is good for pedestrians, and indeed good for all citizens -- quite simply, bike lanes make getting around safer. DC certainly still has its blight, and some pretty severe problems, but in 20+ years of visiting there, I can honestly say I've never felt more impressed by it. And I can't wait to go back, and show my little girl just what a city can be like.

Closer to home, the Summit was an opportunity for the North Carolina delegation to find some legs -- we've got a lot of folks focused on a lot of different ideas, and now we've got some leadership emerging at the state level that will help us all focus our energies. While we were in DC, the State DOT added a bike lane to an upcoming road project that will open up a much-needed north-south corridor between Fletcher and Hendersonville (yes, a new, safe commute for Chris and Kim!), and we as a group are planning a session to figure out just how we can descend on Raleigh at some point in the future and hold our own Summit. North Carolina has dropped to 25th on the League of American Bicyclists state list -- by virtue of so many other states improving their bike friendliness while NC just sits back on what it did 10 or 15 years ago. C'mon people, there's work to be done!

Consider that Wisconsin realizes $1 billion-plus each year in bicycle tourism. That's Billion with a B. Each year. And, let's be real here, you can pretty much count the number of viable bicycle tourism months in Wisconsin on one hand. Think about what can be done in North Carolina, where you can ride almost year-round! Or how about that we are losing industry to neighboring South Carolina, where Greenville-Spartanburg have put up serious dollars to become Bike Friendly/"Livable" cities ... what about those of us in Asheville? We're somewhat a victim of our resources -- we get a lot of enthusiasts, but not a lot of support. Thankfully, though, things are changing ...

I'll get more into it here later, but for now I need to get caught up. It was weird to have a stack of voicemails waiting for me when I landed in Charlotte -- AT&T seriously needs to step up their game. Of course, I didn't mind one bit not having any service at all this weekend, when I snuck out to Laurel > Pilot > Connector > lower Slate on Saturday and 475B > 225 > Daniel Ridge > Butter Gap > Halfway Road > 475 > Long Branch on Sunday ...

1 comment:

Stephen said...

the future looks promising! It's good to have a guy like you in NC!