Usually when I get to speak to a group of active types, I end up learning more than the folks who came to hear me. Such was the case last night, when I got the opportunity to speak to the North Carolina Bicycle Club at their August meeting. I spoke about greenways, the people I spoke to spoke to me about, among other things:
- The inaugural North Carolina Bike Summit, to be held Oct. 12-13 at N.C. State University’s McKimmon Center. Surprisingly, this is the first gathering of folks interested in the future of cycling in North Carolina, from planners, business owners and nonprofit leaders to elected officials and bike advocates, including the rank and file. Oct. 12, a Friday, is a day-long affair with speakers and workshops, Saturday’s session is in the morning, will focus on North Carolina policy initiatives and greenway and trail development, and is more geared to the cycling enthusiast. For more info on the summit, go here. Thanks to Esther Lumsdon for the enlightenment.
- N.C. Department of Transportation is launching a pedestrian and bicycle plan for the state. Part of what they’ll be looking at is a long overdue revisiting of the statewide bike route system, which includes more than 3,000 miles of signed bike routes statewide and, from what I’ve been able to glean from a harrowing trip or two, was devised before the advent of the motor vehicle. (It was, in fact, created in the 1970s.) What I didn’t know was a big part of the plan is soliciting the thoughts of users. You can — nay, must — be part of the process by venturing to WalkBikeNC.com. (NCBC has it’s own survey set up here, the results of which will be forwarded to NCDOT.)
- North Carolina Secretary of Transportation and FOC (Friend of Cycling) Gene Conti has an informative Facebook page. (This I learned while following up on the aforementioned pedestrian and bicycle plan.)
- Greenway safety remains a concern. Not that it’s a rampant problem: there have been recent confrontations on the American Tobacco Trail and a friend at the meeting told of being stopped and robbed of $40 on Raleigh’s Walnut Creek Greenway near South Saunders Street. `I offered the same advice I offer when asked about how safe the greenways are: If you’re concerned about safety, plan to use the greenway during peak usage, typically in the morning (roughly 6:30-8:30 a.m.), in the evening (roughly after work, from 5-8 p.m., though on the earlier side as daylight wanes), and on weekends. The more people around you, the less likely you are to have a problem.
- Greenway maps continue to be an issue with folks. It’s getting better, I pointed out. Raleigh, Cary and Durham all have printed maps that are free for the asking and that are updated frequently. Raleigh, which has the most greenway construction underway, is good about updating its online map. Some of the smaller systems remain a challenge to find, and there’s yet to be a comprehensive systemwide map of the Triangle’s greenways (though I’m working on it as, I assume, are others).
- North Carolina is a great place for flatwater paddling. This I learned from NCBC’s prepetual President David Cole. David and his wife took up paddling a few years back and David now spends about as much time gripping a paddle as he does handlebars. David’s revelation also showed the cyclists are far from one-dimensional.
But then I already knew that.