Sunday, December 19, 2010

Going shopping? Take the bus!

This time of year, traffic can get pretty heavy at times and it's harder to find convenient parking near the places you are going. We've had some challenging weather this year too, that has made me not want to drive some days. A great solution is Asheville Transit - buses run every day and night except Sundays/holidays and frequently travel to and from downtown, West Asheville, North Asheville and the Asheville Mall area. I live in West Asheville and can catch a bus every half hour to/from downtown (route numbers 1 and 9; evening route 41).

Downtown is a great place to shop for gifts, especially for finding locally made items. The mall is also very popular for shopping, with a large variety of stores on Tunnel Road. Both of these destinations are well-served by public transit - see for a complete list of schedules and route maps.

I like riding the bus for a few reasons. I can sit, read and enjoy the ride. I don't have to worry about finding a parking space or pay for parking. I have a sense of freedom using my feet to get around and not being "tied" to a car. And I get some exercise walking to and from the bus and around my destination. I invite you to try it - you might like it!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Bicycle Safety Instructors

Congratulations to Seven New Bike Trainers in Asheville/Buncombe

During November, 7 local cyclists became League Certified Instructors. These people successfully completed a more than 20-hour course developed by the League of American Bicyclists. The new LCI’s join three other local LCI’s bringing Asheville-Buncombe a total of TEN LCI’s. Ten LCI’s increases our capacity for more educational programs geared to both adults and children. We hope to expand our educational programs to middle school students and our outreach to adult cyclists through more Traffic Skills 101 courses. We also plan to add training for commuters and families. We will contact businesses, clubs, social groups and religious groups and offer tailored programs to their employees and members. If you are interested in taking a class or have other ideas, please post a comment on Strive Not to Drive’s blog.

Friday, May 7, 2010

good for me, good for you

What's the best way to relieve the stress of your day, reconnect with nature, and squeeze in a little bit of exercise between work and the rest of your life? What's the best way to see a new part of your neighborhood you didn't know existed? What's the best way to notice the small details of life for once? What's the best way to reduce your carbon footprint, support your local economy, and help protect our air quality? Active transportation - biking and walking - comes with all of these benefits. It's easier, faster, and more convenient than you think. It doesn't have to involve scary things like spandex biking uniforms, clipless cycling shoes, or Camelbaks. And the best part? It's not just good for the world around you, the environment, the community - it's really good for you, too.

I am an occasional bicycle commuter, riding approximately two miles from my home in West Asheville to my office on Leicester Highway whenever I can get the stars aligned enough to do so. I am not an avid cyclist - no cycling uniform, no clipless shoes. I get nervous on group rides. I climb hills slowly, in the easiest gear possible, checking out the flowers and trying not to worry about how hard it is to breathe sometimes. The great thing I've discovered about bike commuting is that, for a little bit of effort and planning, I get a great return. Working full-time and balancing all of the responsibilities of life often leaves me feeling like there is no time for myself. Bike commuting feels like a little indulgence, a tiny piece of my day carved out just for me. The bonus is that the benefits of doing it extend beyond to my life to the world around me. How better can one spend 40 minutes a day?

My bike commute begins in my West Asheville neighborhood, riding along quiet residential streets, enjoying the emerging spring flowers and picking up landscaping tips along the way. There's a short stint on Haywood Road, which is busy but wide enough to feel comfortable even on busy mornings and afternoons. Next up is a long, relaxing, easy downhill ride - not so relaxing and easy on the way home, of course. Then I have another brief climb through the woods on a rarely traveled side road, which opens up into a beautiful, rolling hayfield. Would you believe that between West Asheville and Leicester Highway, there's a bucolic, fence-lined scene like this?

Next it's back through more suburban development and a bit of narrow, more heavily traveled Old County Home Road to make things interesting. Pass the brown and white horse, climb one more big hill, and I'm there.

The return trip is just as nice - the birds singing, the smell of fresh cut grass, the high trees above, the brown and white horse. The azaleas in bloom right now are magnificent. By the time I turn onto my street, I've had 20 minutes of sun, fresh air, and exercise to wash away any stress left from the office. I can turn my attention to other things, time with family, making dinner, walking the dogs. Riding up my street, past the corner house with the amazing flowers, the sounds of piano lessons floating out of the open windows of my house, I know bike commuting isn't just a good thing to do for the world - it's really good for me, too.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Life Changing Experience

I became involved in Strive Not to Drive about 6 years ago. I don't know when in the planning process I realized that I was exactly the type of person we are trying to reach with the Strive Not to Drive message.

I worked in downtown Asheville and lived about 2 miles from my workplace. I commuted to work alone in my car. My parking was paid for, so at the time there was little incentive to change what I was doing. The only time I had ever used public transportation was when traveling. I had a 12 year old bike sitting in the garage and couldn't remember when I had last been on it. I enjoyed walking, but work was just a little to far for that to be a convenient way to commute.

As SNTD week started to get closer I began to think about how I would participate. Living so close to downtown and near a bus line, I had no excuse for driving my car that week. Nothing irritates me more than someone who can't practice what they preach. I was not about to be labeled a hypocrite. Several folks involved in the campaign were cyclists. I was reasonably fit and always challenged to find a way to squeeze some exercise into my day. Why not give it a try. I also researched the bus scheduled and it seemed like a good option as well.

I went to the garage and found the bike. It seemed to be in relatively good shape and didn't appear to need much more than a good tune-up and new tires. I also managed to find the bike rack, loaded it up and took it to a bike shop.

That week I left my car at home everyday but one. The next week I was back in my car but committed to learning how to make multi-modal transportation work for me.

Today I generally commute by bike at least 3 days a week. Occassionally I take the bus. And yes, I have a family and a job where I have to show up looking like a professional. I also manage to easily carry a computer, files and anything I might need for work. And no, I'm not 20-something. . .you can add several decades to that. Sometimes folks will ask me if I think it's dangerous to ride in Asheville. And I answer, "no, not particularly". I've taken advantage of classes that have helped me develop safe riding skills and confidence. I obey the rules of the road and use common sense. With a little planning it all works and it's a wonderful week when I never get in my car!

During this year's Strive Not to Drive campaign try carpooling, biking, taking the bus, or even walking if you live close enough. Move out of your comfort zone. If you already use multimodal transportation, can you challenge yourself to do more? I highly recommend it. It could change your life!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Strive Not to Drive week is coming!

Welcome to the official blog for the 2010 Strive Not to Drive campaign in Asheville, NC. This year's Strive Not to Drive week will run from May 16th-22nd and will feature a variety of challenges and fun activities. Please stay tuned to this blog for more information on upcoming events, competititions, and blog entries from everyday Ashevillians who are striving not to drive.

If you're visiting this blog and you're not from Asheville, May 17-21 is National Bike to Work Week and a number of events are going on across the country, some just focused on bicycling and others encouraging all forms of sustainable commuting. May is also National Bike Month.