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  1. #1
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    Blue Ridge Parkway - legislation to close to cyclists - act now!

    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:

    URGENT!

    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.
    http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentF...cumentID=43487

    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.
    ...

  2. #2
    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    Although I have not cycled the BRP, and don't think my fitness level would ever actually permit it, I think this would be one hell of a loss to the cycling community. I drive and ride motorcycle there quite often in the past, and have dreamed of doing the seven mile descent. One of the few places I have actually been passed by a cyclist on a motorcycle.
    One Foot Less

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    I would probably replace terms like "cyclist", with terms like as a "taxpayer", "citizen" (pretty weak), or "tourist spending vacation time and money..." I would add the word "choice" as often as possible. Choice is the holy grail of government policy. One thing I learned as a lobbyist was to write "choice" whenever possible.

    One should also represent that the good guys (those burning gas) may also want the choice to ride those bikes they have on the back of their campers. "as an RV owner who often travels through your state/fascility, I enjoy the occasional outing on my bike and would miss the opportunity choose to ride sections of the parkways while buying gas for my motorhome in your state, and shopping my way accross your malls", kind of thing.

    What is the issue here? Most of the time I have driven the parkway it has been empty, which at the very least begs the question about off peak access. It could be the case that one cyclist is a problem for a disproportionate number of cars, but there are times when it doesn't mater.

    I remember once going through a one lane construction zone. I held up traffic in both directions because I was slower to get through than the cars. Everyone was nice about it, but there are problems sometimes accommodating vehicles at different speeds. And there can be safety issues where there are features like long tunnels and blind curves. But there may be strategies, and there may be off peak times. Cyclists don't pay the taxes cars do, and they spend longer times on a feature like the BRP, so when times are lean they are going to look at those who take more and give less.
    Last edited by MassiveD; 12-09-11 at 10:49 AM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
    Cyclists don't pay the taxes cars do, and they spend longer times on a feature like the BRP, so when times are lean they are going to look at those who take more and give less.
    Cars don't pay taxes. People pay taxes, and the last time I checked I was still paying the same gas, income, sales, etc., taxes that are used to fund roads that everyone else pays. Funny thing though is that when I am riding my bike I am not causing the same wear and tear (if any) on the roads as I am when I am driving. So in essense, I am taking less while still giving.

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    Is it just me, or is the legislation not, in fact, to close the parkway to cyclists?

  6. #6
    Je pose, donc je suis.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jude View Post
    Is it just me, or is the legislation not, in fact, to close the parkway to cyclists?
    Of course not. Hey valygrl, stop being such a tool and maybe people will listen to your honest concerns.

    "The parkway and other park roads would
    continue to be available to bicyclists and
    provide an outstanding cycling experience. In
    general, the parkway’s limited access, lower
    traffic levels, and scenic setting provide for a
    quality cycling experience. This would
    continue to be a long-term beneficial impact
    on the quality of visitor’s bicycling experience.
    However, the parkway was not built as a
    bicycling facility, and therefore the
    narrowness of the roadway, the lack of paved
    shoulders, foggy weather, and local road
    paving activities would continue to challenge
    cyclists and pose safety concerns as they share
    the road with motorists, especially in areas
    where traffic levels are increasing, especially
    commuter traffic in the more urban areas of
    Waynesboro, Roanoke, Boone/ Blowing
    Rock, and Asheville. The proposals to
    construct grade separation structures at some
    locations along the parkway would have a
    long-term beneficial impact on helping
    manage commuter traffic levels in some
    locations. This would likely help improve
    safety and the bicycling experience at local
    areas along the parkway."

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedaleur View Post
    Of course not. Hey valygrl, stop being such a tool and maybe people will listen to your honest concerns.
    Um what? I just passed on what PacTour sent me. If they mis-understood or misrepresented the proposed legislation, I didn't catch that.

    No need to call names.
    ...

  8. #8
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    The essence of the issue is, Parkway management is trying to wall themselves off from having to interface with local communities and user groups, by closing side roads and feeder trails; then preserve their fifecom with National Historic Landmark status.

    Cycling on the Parkway will probably always be “allowed,” but…

    This is still devastating to road and mountain bikers, hikers, and equestrians who have had “out your backdoor” access for decades. Now they may have to go miles out of their way — probably in their cars — to access Parkway trails, or ride on the Parkway itself.

    A convenient side effect would be fewer everyday cyclists, which management often views as being “in the way” of their preferred customer, The Motorist.

    Mountain bikers especially are being sawed off at the knees.

    We have an action alert on our blog, but the best analysis so far is from Anne Whisnant. We have links to her articles.

    Also submit comments on the proposed closing of Roanoke Mountain Campground, an important stop for long distance bike tourists.
    bikeNewportBeach.org
    Virginia Bicycling Federation (www.vabike.org)
    Coming soon: bikeomatic.com

  9. #9
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    If we get many more of these Tea Party nuts in office it will become the Frito-Lay Blue Ridge Parkway, and we all know how much they hate bicycling. It's more important than ever to vote, and write letters too if that will help.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  10. #10
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedaleur View Post
    Of course not. Hey valygrl, stop being such a tool and maybe people will listen to your honest concerns.
    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    Um what? I just passed on what PacTour sent me. If they mis-understood or misrepresented the proposed legislation, I didn't catch that.

    No need to call names.
    I'll echo that with WTF?
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

    Albert Einstein

  11. #11
    Fat Guy Rolling dcrowell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattotoole View Post
    The essence of the issue is, Parkway management is trying to wall themselves off from having to interface with local communities and user groups, by closing side roads and feeder trails; then preserve their fifecom with National Historic Landmark status.

    Cycling on the Parkway will probably always be “allowed,” but…

    This is still devastating to road and mountain bikers, hikers, and equestrians who have had “out your backdoor” access for decades. Now they may have to go miles out of their way — probably in their cars — to access Parkway trails, or ride on the Parkway itself.

    A convenient side effect would be fewer everyday cyclists, which management often views as being “in the way” of their preferred customer, The Motorist.

    Mountain bikers especially are being sawed off at the knees.

    We have an action alert on our blog, but the best analysis so far is from Anne Whisnant. We have links to her articles.

    Also submit comments on the proposed closing of Roanoke Mountain Campground, an important stop for long distance bike tourists.
    Okay, so it's a budgetary thing? They may close a campground and some trails and connector roads to not pay for maintaining them. This may be a bad thing for some cycling uses, but it's hardly a "war against cyclists" or "closing it to cycling" as originally posted.

    I spent a week in April 2010 in a cabin just off the BRP near Spruce Pine NC. I did a fair amount of cycling. There were sections of the BRP closed due to downed trees that hadn't yet been cleaned up from winter ice storms. I think the budget problems have existed for a while.

    The BRP is a park. It's not open year-round. It's not considered a necessary travel road. There are plenty of places to bypass it when necessary. The views from it are wonderful, but it was nice to get to the small surrounding towns also and enjoy the scenery from "down lower".

    Just my $0.02 worth.
    Car-Free IT Geek
    My blog: fatguy.org

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  12. #12
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    it's not a necessary travel road, it is a senic parkway, and one which should remain open to bicycle traffic. Travel on the Blue Ridge Parkway is as legitimate a pursuit for bicyclists as it is for motor vehicle operators.

    'preserving' the parkway in perpetuity as a historic landmark would limit future possible changes to the parkway that would beneficial to bicycling. Historic Landmark status should be opposed.

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