By Anthony Wyatt
July 23, 2012. With the rise in biking interest the High Country has seen throughout recent years, issues of bike access, safety and mobility have become more pressing than ever. To accommodate the growing number of local cyclists, the High Country Council of Governments (HCCOG) is developing a specialized bike plan for Yancey, Mitchell, Avery, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, and Wilkes counties.
Partnering with the NCDOT, the HCCOG is creating a seven-county Regional Bike Plan to improve riding safety, roadway access and bike mobility for area cyclists. To adequately reach these goals, the plan hopes to “designate logical routes that connect municipalities and other major destinations in the region.” The HCCOG also aims at improving roadways to better accommodate cyclists and developing “a signage plan to mark identified routes.”
Rather than replace current local bike plans, which can be found in many municipalities throughout the High Country, the HCCOG’s Regional Bike Plan intends to incorporate such existing routes to better serve the biking community. As a result, the plan addresses both the recreational and transportation aspects of cycling in the region.
Above all, the Regional Bike Plan is designed to be both long-term and comprehensive. “The Plan will address the following [issues]: policies affecting cycling, maintenance of bike facilities, cost of improvements, sources of funding and safety programs.” Additionally, the plan will work to incorporate the public’s recommendations regarding the design of future bike facilities and the appearance and location of cycling route signs.
Currently, a Steering Committee consisting of three representatives per county and the HCCOG staff are working on the bike plan, which is scheduled for completion in June of 2013. Already, the Regional Bike Plan has developed its project goals, collected public input from an online survey and evaluated existing roadway conditions.
Also as part of the plan, the HCCOG is hosting several public workshops throughout the High Country. The objective of these meetings is to gather input from the community and highlight the current state of the plan’s development. During the workshops, bike plan staff members will display and explain maps showing traffic, crash data, long-range roadway plans and current bike races and rides. Meeting participants will also have the opportunity to voice concerns and provide input regarding new bike facilities and desired bike plan improvements.
Each of the five scheduled workshops will be held from 4 – 6 p.m. and HCCOG staff will be on hand to provide additional information and answer questions. Here are the dates for the Regional Bike Plan workshops:
- Monday, July 30 at the Wilkesboro Civic Center
- Tuesday, July 31 at Mayland Community College
- Wednesday, August 1 at Burnsville Town Center
- Monday, August 6 at the Ashe County Library
- Tuesday, August 7 at the High Country Council of Government
For more information regarding the bike plan, visit the High Country Regional Bike Plan page on HCCOG’s website at http://www.regiond.org/HCregionalbikeplan.html.
Or, contact Phil Trew at (828) 265-5434, extension 121, or at [email protected].