Ashe residents attending a drop-in workshop for the High Country Bike Plan had good suggestions for High Country Council of Governments as the plan is developed.
The workshop on Monday at Ashe County Public Library offered residents an opportunity to see potential routes for the plan and make suggestions.
Led by Phil Trew, director of planning for High Country COG (Region D), assisted by Craig Hughes, transportation planner, the workshop saw a good turnout with residents offering such suggestions as signage for cyclists at the major roadways coming into Ashe and along the Blue Ridge Parkway to remind motorists to be aware of cyclists.
“We need people to be aware of cyclists and signage would warn them to be aware,” said Ray Podd of West Jefferson, who with his wife Linda Stanley are avid cyclists in the region including participation in the annual Blue Ridge Brutal race.
Trew said he could recommend signage as long as it was not overwhelming for the site.
Hughes said the High Country COG is offering suggestions and accepting suggestions from the public as to the best way to share the road. “If through the maps we can get roads designated, then people will be aware that that is where cyclists will be,” he said.
Podd said because he and his wife are cyclists they are aware of cyclists when driving, but sometimes there are people on the roads with children and nobody is wearing a helmet or seems to be safety aware, such as on Railroad Grade Road. This is where signage would help, he said, to warn motorists of potential cyclists on the road.
There were five workshops held throughout the region, the last in Boone on Tuesday, and Trew said the comments will be collected and considered as the plan progresses. A blank map with a draft route will be the next step, Trew said. He planned to meet today with Alta/Greenway Inc., a consulting firm working on a statewide bike plan, to discuss how to mold Region D’s plan with the statewide plan.
Trew said High Country COG applied for grant money from NCDOT’s Division of Bicycles and Pedestrian Transportation to do a bike plan for the High Country. The typical amount budgeted for study of a statewide plan is $6 million, he said. He said he would come up with rough estimates and make funding recommendations for the High Country Bike Plan.
Connecting regional plans into a statewide plan makes sense for experienced cyclists, Trew said, who want to cycle longer distances than just around a town.
The High Country Bike Plan is intended to improve safety, access and mobility for cyclists by developing a network of designated routes that connect municipalities and other destinations in the region. The plan will also identify needed improvements to existing roadways, prioritize the improvements, and develop and signage plan to mark the identified routes.
For more information on the bike plan, call Phillip Trew at 828-265-5434, ext. 121, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.