Monday, May 9, 2011

Strive not to Drive Every Day

Strive Not to Drive Week is next week. However, I find I can often leave my car at home. It helps when all of my activities take place in the small town of Black Mountain where I live. Here's how my non-car day went.

I started out walking to a friend's house for breakfast where we discussed our strategy for a meeting we had later in the day. After walking home and taking care of some e-mail I hopped on my bike and rode to Rec Park where I went for a run. Then it was on to the fitness club for a much needed stretching class.

After lunch I was back on the bike with my laptop tucked into my backpack. I rode to Montreat where I gave a presentation about the Black Mountain Greenway System. The coast back down to my house was a treat!

My last task of the day was to go to the Community Garden to do some watering and work on my bed. Back on the bike it was! After an hour or so of gardening, I returned home and hung up the bike.

By day's end I had ridden close to 15 miles. None of my trips took significantly longer by bike than they would have by car. It was a glorious day to be out on the bike and I had gotten a good bit of exercise to boot.

Today was not an unusual one for me. I find that if I have less than a mile to go, walking is fine. If it is over a mile, I hop on the bike. I can wear any clothes I need to on these short trips. People around town are used to seeing me out on my bike and many know me by name. It's a great way to move through the world. I recommend it highly.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Helping the Next Generation

One of the greatest things we can do to promote multimodal transportation is to help our children develop the skills and confidence they need to be safe cyclists and maybe to fall in love with bicycling. For the past 2 weeks we've been doing just that at Erwin Middle School. There are so many things that are right about this.Cycling is a "life sport", something that a young person can engage in independently throughout their lives. Furthermore, in today's world As we work to decrease obesity and other chronic disease associated with physical inactivity, bicycling is seen as a practical way for many to stay active as part of their everyday routine. It is especially important that youth develop these skills, confidence and love of cycling at an early age.

Another highlight from our 2 weeks at Erwin were the PE teachers who visited from other Buncombe County elementary and midddle schools. They were all enthusiastic about what they saw and very interested in bringing the program to other county schools.

This Saturday, April 16th, we will be holding a bicycle rodeo as part of the YMCA's Healthy Kids Day. The event will be in downtown Asheville from 11-4 in the Pack Square area. The rodeo will be on the College Street side of the Renaissance Hotel Parking Lot.. This event will be a "community version" of what took place at Erwin Middle School. It is appropriate for kids of all ages. If your child brings their bike, local bike shops will be on hand to inspect them for proper fit and mechanical problems. We'll also make sure your child's helmet fits correctly. We will have bikes and helmets of all sizes for children who don't bring a bike with them.

Our partners are key to the success of this program. The "we" in this program is the Buncombe County Department of Health, Asheville on Bikes, The Blue Ridge Bicycle Club, the WNC Bicycle Dealers Association, Trips for Kids, not to mention both City of Asheville and Buncombe County staff and individual community members.This program is a great example of how people in our community can share their training and resources to help schools and communities make the most of opportunities to reach children.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Earth Day is Every Day!

Earth Day is Every Day

Even though we celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd each year, we should take a step forward to make Earth Day every day!

Earth Day began on April 22, 1970, which was the idea of former US Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI). The idea was modeled off anti-Vietnam War demonstrations called “teach-ins.” “On April 22, 1970, 20 million people, 2,000 colleges and universities, 10,000 grammar and high schools and 1,000 communities mobilized for the first nationwide demonstrations on environmental problems.” (

This year Earth Day has a theme of “Billion Acts of Green®. The hope with this theme is to have one billion acts of environmental service around the world that will help to commit to reducing carbon emissions and promote sustainability, as well as demonstrating the effects that small individual acts can have on going green.

To help out with this year’s theme, do something fun and engaging such as organizing an Earth Day clean-up in a neighborhood park, ride your bicycle or walk to school or the store, wash your laundry in cold water, just to name a few.

There are many local events that you can take part in, however, on Thursday, April 21 @ 7:00 p.m. attend the “Celebrate the Day-Before-Earth Day!” at Malaprop’s Bookstore/CafĂ©, 55 Haywood Street in downtown Asheville. Meet Yuri Koslen from the City of Asheville Transportation Department; Rachel Rogers from the City of Asheville Office of Sustainability; and Barry Lawson from Curbie Curbside Management. Learn how to better take advantage of Asheville’s recycling, water conservation, and public transportation options in honor of Earth Day!

Remember Earth Day is Every Day!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

News from the Bike Summit 2011

Eight hundred individuals from across the US descended upon Washington, D C to tell Congress stories about how funding for bicycling has changed their community, encouraged children to be physically active and solved problems in their communities. The National Bicycle Summit, organized by the League of American Bicyclists was in progress. The feeling was that sharing our positive stories would help to educate legislators about the positive effects in an effort to retain the present funding available from Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to Schools and the Recreational Trails Programs. These programs are the main funding sources that we have used over the past eleven years. With the present feeling being that cutting programs will help to balance the budget it is most important to help congress members to see that these programs are worth keeping.

Only 1.5 percent of federal transportation dollars currently support bicycling and walking, although these two modes represent 12 percent of all trips in the US and 14 percent of roadway fatalities are bicyclists or pedestrians. Small investments in improving roadway safety not only make our roads safer for bicyclists and pedestrians but also make drivers feel more comfortable and reduce conflicts among all road users. These improvements are relatively inexpensive, and create significantly more jobs per dollar than road repair and upgrades for motor vehicles. They also boost local small businesses and increase real estate values. It is important in these difficult economic times that we use inexpensive ways to solve the many social problems that we have. Bicycling and walking are inexpensive ways to do just that.

In past years when we attend the Bicycle Summit we had many requests to ask members of Congress and for the most part we had very positive responses. We were feeling good and dreaming big. This year, however we knew that this was not the time to dream but the time to educate the new members of Congress, say thank you to those who have supported us in the past and find new allies. We felt that educating the Congress members and inviting them to visit the past funded sites would help them see for themselves how well the money was spend.

Many of the delegates attending the summit were bike shop owners and bike manufactures. One of the main focuses was that small businesses were driving the economy by providing jobs because of the improvements that have been made in communities that make it possible for people to walk and bike and the numbers of folks using these active modes of transportation is increasing. Most of us received positive responses as we told our stories however the optimism was cautious. We heard about the need to get spending under control and the difficulty in making decisions to cut the fat. But we also heard from individuals, like Senator Thomas Carper from Delaware who was so impressed with our positive spirit and Steven LaTourette, of Mentor, Ohio that he had changed his feelings and would co-sponsor a Complete Street bill when it comes around again. John Mica the Chair of the Transportation Committee was very positive about working to keep the bicycle and walking parts in the next Transportation Bill. To have both Republican and Democratic congress members show us support was very reassuring. There is much work to do to keep funding intact and many stories need to be told showing the economic impacts of improving active transportation.

We were inspired by US Dept of Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood who again vowed to support active transportation to make sure that there are choices for transportation and talked about what bicycling has meant to his family. US Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar talked about how important leaders in the past have protected land through a variety of laws and programs and that it is our time to protect our communities and sacred lands today through active transportation initiatives. The Commissioner of the NY city Dept of Transportation, Janette Sadik-Kahn talked about the changes happening around the country and that communities are not waiting for Washington to make funding available but are transforming themselves by slowing down traffic and providing a safe place for active transportation. The changes that have been made in the city of New York have actually decreased traffic fatalities from 40 – 50%. They found that many individuals driving on their city streets were unaware of the actual speed limit and once they knew what the impact was and the safety features were in place the speeds reduced and there were huge economic improvements, as well.

There is a major crisis in the funding process because the Hwy Trust Fund is broken. As folks have reduced their driving and begun to drive more gas saving vehicles the gas tax revenues have dropped. Congress is not willing to increase the gas taxes. We have been spending more money than is being brought in and unless there are changes made it will not get any better. Some states are beginning to raise their own gas taxes to increase revenues. More public and private partnerships need to be fostered and local communities are going to have to find their own creative ways to make things happen. Local advocates need to put pressure on leaders to choose ways to prioritize what is important to them. We were given Gandhi’s words of wisdom to guide us in our work which were “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Annual Bike Love Event

Want a chance to listen to some great local music, enjoy a cold brew, and a chance to win bicycle gear! Then come to the 5th Annual Bike Love Event Saturday, February 26 at Arcade Asheville at 130 College Street in downtown Asheville. While you’re there you can get updated on the bicycle transportation infrastructure – what improvements have been made and what’s to come in the future.

Party gets started at 8 p.m. Cost is only $12 and tickets are available at Ski Country Sports, ProBikes, Liberty Bicycle, BioWheels, Motion Makers and Youngblood’s Bicycles. Admission at the Door is $15.

And if you want a chance at a new bike, Ski Country Sports donated a Giant Roam I ($600 retail value) bicycle to be raffled at Bike Love. Raffle tickets are currently on sale at Ski Country Sports and the winner will be selected that evening. Ski Country Sports will fit the winner of the bicycle with the proper frame size so the winner rides in both style and comfort. Ski Country Sports is located at 1000 Merrimon Ave in Asheville. Bicycle raffle tickets are $2 for 1 or $5 for 3.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Air Expo and Strive Not To Drive Film Festival is two days away. At this point we are assembling the award packages and putting the final pieces of the event together. It also cause me to reflect a little on this years projects.

The sixty AQ-IQ and fifteen video projects make me hopeful. The projects illustrate that environmental and economic health are linked to choices made by individuals. It is clear that from an air quality perspective, transportation has the biggest effect on air quality and climate change. It should not be a surprise that today’s students are not only aware of the difficulties that car based transportation can cause, but they are also prepared to make choices that are good for multi-modal transportation.

On January 13 two blogs highlighted the importance of multi-modal transportation for our future. These blog were written by correspondents for the Wall Street Journal and Ray LaHood, Secretary of the US Department of Transportation. Both blogs references studies that showing the importance of planning for a multi-modal future.

The Wall Street Journal Real Estate Blog wrote about the selling points of the homes that were being purchased by the millennial generation – people born after 1980. The blog highlights finding from surveys that show, “They want to walk everywhere. Surveys show that 13% carpool to work, while 7% walk, said Melina Duggal, a principal with Orlando-based real estate adviser RCLCO.” The article continues mentioning that one-third of the millennial individuals are willing to pay more for a home that provides the ability to walk to work, eat, and shop.
Ray LaHood, Secretary of the US Department of Transportation wrote about the economy and transportation options in his blog Fast Lane on January 13, 2011:

“In this case-study, "Estimating the Employment Impacts of Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Road Infrastructure," the Political Economy Research Institute compiled data provided by the city of Baltimore. They found that on-street bike lanes and pedestrian measures created more direct jobs, more indirect jobs, and more induced jobs per dollar than either road upgrades or road resurfacing.
That report was followed last week by a survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating widespread public support--67 percent--in America's cities for street design activities that increase physical activity.
Putting the two studies together creates a powerful argument for continuing the Department of Transportation's support for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects. Even as these investments increase mobility, they also generate economic growth. And, people are demanding them for their communities.”

Viewing the student’s projects, along side of the blogs of important and influential people, gives me as an individual hope. The students who participated in the contests clearly are aware of the value of transportation options. There is clear evidence that shows the economic advantage spending public money on multi-modal transportation. The environmental benefits and health benefits are also clear.

Most of our air quality and climate change problems have occurred since the industrial revolution. During that time period many decisions that were made without a clear understanding of the consequences. Two centuries later we know better, and I am hopeful because of what I know we can accomplish as individuals, a nation and worldwide with a thoughtful and conscientious action.

I am confident that the young people understand the problem and the solutions. Emerging evidence is becoming more prevalent showing that a local green economy and multi-modal infrastructure are productive economically, environmentally more healthy, and provide a better quality of life. I am hopeful that we can prevent the worst that climate change has to offer, and the air will be cleaner and our future will be better.

Keith Bamberger

Contact Keith Bamberger, NC Division of Air Quality, 828-296-4500,

Monday, January 24, 2011

Strive Not To Drive Film Festival - February 5

In an effort to keep everyone thinking about ways to Strive Not To Drive, SNTD, The City of Asheville, NC Division of Air Quality, and the National Park Service have joined forces on the Strive Not TO Drive Film Festival and the Air Expo.

Air Expo and Strive Not To Drive Film Festival
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Folk Art Center
Milepost 382, Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville

On February 5, 2011, the fifth Air Expo and Strive Not To Drive Film Festival will highlight air quality and transportation projects created by 7th grade students from Buncombe and Henderson Counties. The projects focus on transportation, air quality issues, and solutions. The projects were developed by students during the fall of 2010.

At 10:00 a.m. the Air Expo will start with an informal meeting with the students and view the projects. The program will begin at 10:15 a.m. and include the presentation of awards. We expect the formal presentations to be finished by 11:30 a.m.

The Strive Not To Drive Film Festival will begin at 1:00 p.m. The Strive Not To Drive Film Festival will feature videos created by students and the general public. In addition to showing this year’s videos, we will also show the best videos created for previous SNTD film festivals.

Both events are open to the public, and we encourage people who are interested in air quality, transportation, and environmental health to be a part of these events.

contact Keith Bamberger with questions: