I received a message from PacTour this morning, indicating there is some proposed legislation that will close the BRP to cyclists. Here's the message from PacTour which includes contact information on how to voice your comments:
The Blue Ridge Parkway
Is Under Attack!
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a popular route for many cyclists and perhaps many of you have ridden it along with PAC Tour on our Eastern Mountains Tour. It is a stretch of road like a dream, closed to commercial vehicles like semi trucks, the parkway winds through the Blue Ridge mountains, along ridges and through hollows. Climbing out of the valley and into the misty mountains at sunrise is an enchanting memory.
Like many recreation areas in the USA, the Blue Ridge Parkway is under-funded and is considering restricting access to bicyclists. The Parkway has released a new draft management plan that focuses on "the recreational driving experience." If you are reading this email, you are probably a supporter of "the recreational cycling experience" and realize the danger in passing legislation in support of cars and limiting the use of bicycles.
A more detailed account of the draft management plan can be found here.
As PAC Tour has scheduled the Eastern Mountains Tour for fall of 2012, this change in legislation could alter the tour significantly. Please consider writing to the Blue Ridge Parkway with your concerns if you are in support of continuing to cycle on this beautiful stretch of Appalachia.
If you enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway in its current state and would like to submit a written comment, please do so before December 16th to the Blue Ridge Parkway Draft Management Plan:
Superintendent Philip A. Francis, Jr.
Blue Ridge Parkway
199 Hemphill Knob Road
Asheville, NC 28803
Or you can formally submit comments online here.
Here is a standardized response in support of bicycle access to the Blue Ridge Parkway that you can use in the online form:
Question 1: What proposals or aspects do you like/dislike about the alternatives in this Draft General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (DGMP/EIS)?
I can support proposed Option C only if comprehensive changes are made to include and promote bicycling, walking and other non-motorized forms of transportation as an integral part of the Parkway’s mission.
As a cyclist, I cannot support the over-arching goals presented in the Draft Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement.
First, a National Historic Landmark designation is the wrong way to protect the Parkway. This status will create obstacles and bureaucratic red tape, and entomb the Parkway in a virtual time capsule. Instead, we should trust the good judgment and stewardship of future generations to preserve and protect this treasure in perpetuity, while meeting the changing needs of our citizens.
Second, Park managers need to understand that the legislation that created the Parkway as a “driving experience” doesn’t fully meet the needs of today’s Parkway users, or potential users. The Parkway shouldn’t be promoted as a car-only roadway, but should meet the National Park Service’s Call to Action and Secretary Salazar’s vision of Connecting Americans to the Great Outdoors. By promoting and accommodating cycling and other forms of alternative transportation, Parkway managers will provide interactive and lasting experiences with one of America’s most loved treasures.
Finally, the Draft Plan’s alternatives do not address the growing interest in cycling, and fail to acknowledge the benefits that cycling brings to both the Parkway and surrounding communities. The Blue Ridge Parkway is an international cycling destination, and important recreation facility for surrounding communities; vital to their economies, and to provide them with healthy lifestyle opportunities.
Merely allowing cycling on the Parkway is not enough and the message to promote active, healthy use of the facility must be an integral part of the core management plan.
Question 2: Do you have any suggestions for improving the preferred alternative in this DGMP/EIS? If so, what are they?
Parkway management should:
1) halt the National Historic Landmark application process;
2) recognize and promote cycling in the Draft Management Plan as a viable and important aspect of Parkway visitation;
3) modify the Draft Management Plan as presented and work with cyclists, the surrounding communities and the general public to meet the needs of today’s changing world. The plan should have a goal of building cycling and alternative transportation into the park planning process in order to meet the National Park Service’s Call to Action and Secretary Salazar’s vision for Connecting Americans to the Great Outdoors.