Progress Made in 2012

By Cecil "Zeke" Yount | Dec 14, 2012

I’m going to succumb to the annual need to look back at the year past and take stock of where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished as 2012 begins to wrap things up for the entry of the new kid on the block – 2013.

On the local cycling front, BicycleHaywoodNC and the Haywood County Parks and Recreation program were pleased to be awarded two honors for the Comprehensive Haywood County Bicycle Plan. The Transportation Planning Excellence Awards Program (TPEA) honored the Haywood Bike plan with one of only 15 projects recognized nationally. The Haywood plan received one of 9 Honorable Mentions given out to projects across the United States. Reasons noted for the award were the employment of “innovative methods of public involvement, context sensitive approaches to bicycle facilities in a rural, mountainous environment, and the Health Impact  Assessment.”

A second award came from the Marvin Collins Outstanding Planning Award in the Multijurisdictional category. The Marvin Collins award is made annually by the N.C. chapter of the American Planning Association. This award recognized the wide spread community involvement in developing the Haywood Bicycle Plan with a specific mention of the Health Impact Assessment, which can be used to guide and measure the success of improving our local citizens’ health. The HIA has garnered additional notice on national and local levels with the most recent acknowledgement of it being in the November issue of Parks and Recreation magazine “5 Key Trends in Parks and Public Health.” Don Kostelec of Asheville is the primary design consultant for the Haywood Bike Plan and is the driving force behind the application of HIA’s and bike/pedestrian plans.

The extended warm weather has kept many a cyclist out on Haywood’s beautiful roads this fall. Just last week, I passed a woman on a standard bicycle and a man on a recumbent bicycle making their way up US 276 from Bethel toward Waynesville. Other trips around the county have also been punctuated with numerous cyclists out enjoying the late fall weather. BicycleHaywoodNC was pleased to offer 21 weeks of Thursday evening rides for new/newly returning cyclists this year. A total of 175 cyclists participated in the third year of the advocacy councils’ education and outreach program teaching cyclists how to ride safely and legally on the highways. Many thanks are due to the motorists who willingly shared the road during these rides!

In August, the Blue Ridge Breakaway brought in excess of 500 cyclists and their family members to Haywood County to bolster what is traditionally a slow period for tourist and service oriented businesses. During that time, local elected officials and business owners were treated to educational opportunities by Russ Roca and Laura Crawford from Portland Oregon on how to become bicycle friendly businesses. Bethel Grocery Store, at the intersection of US 276 and Lake Logan Road, became the first official Bicycle Friendly Outpost for local and visiting cyclists. Plans are well underway for a similar outpost on the northern end of the county in 2013.

For more information, visit http://gr8smokieszeke.blogspot.com and www.bicyclehaywoodnc.org . You may also link to Zeke’s Great Smoky Mountain 2 Wheeled Adventures under Opinion on the Mountaineer’s website.

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