Asheville organizations promote benefits of biking

Christopher Bonilla
Contributor
cbonilla@unca.edu

Director of Asheville on Bikes Mike Sule said he wants people to understand how riding a bike provides a positive impact on a community.

“No one likes to be stuck in traffic. When we choose to ride we make a direct environmental impact and reduce congestion,” Sule said. “There are also positive water and air quality issues associated with riding a bicycle instead of driving a car.”

Many health benefits come from riding bikes. It makes it easy to maintain a healthy lifestyle in addition to providing an environmentally friendly method of transportation, Sule said.

“It’s really good for personal health. Just riding a bike to the store, downtown or to work has a lot of health benefits. It’s good for maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” Sule said.

Sule founded Asheville on Bikes in 2006 in order to create a bigger bicycle community in Asheville.

“Our mission is to cultivate the culture of urban and communal riding through advocacy and celebration because we believe bicycling has a direct impact on the health of our community,” Sule said.

In order to get more people to ride there has to be a change on a city, state and national level with policy and infrastructure that promote bike riding, Sule said.

The Center of Craft, Creativity and Design hosted Asheville on Bikes for community members who desire to learn how to maintain their bicycles. Photo by Christopher Bonilla.
The Center of Craft, Creativity and Design hosted Asheville on Bikes for community members who desire to learn how to maintain their bicycles. Photo by Christopher Bonilla.

“The best thing we can do is build, maintain robust bicycle infrastructure,” Sule said. “That includes bike lanes, greenways and bike racks.”

Asheville on Bikes works to build a bicycling community by organizing after-school programs for children and holding cycling safety classes for people with the interest in learning how to be more pro-biking, Sule said.

Asheville on Bikes and the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design work together to host events for the Asheville community.

Lauren Pelletier, the marketing and development coordinator of the CCCD said events focus on learning new skills to be more self-sufficient.

“The CCCD is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the field of craft through fostering new ideas, funding craft scholarship and backing the next generation of makers, curators and critics,” Pelletier said.

Asheville on Bikes engages with a series at the CCCD called the Fixshop. The series and the exhibit at the center build up the “Fix it in 15” workshops, teaching people how to repair things on their own, Pelletier said.

“‘Fix it in 15’ is part of our Fixshop series,” Pelletier said. “The Fixshop is a dedicated area for hands-on workshops and making at the CCCD’s Benchspace Gallery & Workshop throughout the course of the The Future of Fixing exhibition.”

The CCCD hosted a “Fix it in 15: Bike Repair Clinic,” where members of the Asheville on Bikes organization provided information and hand-on experience for community members interested in learning how to maintain and repair their bikes, Pelletier said.

UNC Asheville and Asheville on Bikes share similar goals in the promotion for bike riding.

Bike mechanic Luther Wardle said a lot of students on campus desire to be more environmentally friendly and they can do that by renting a bike for free from UNCA’s bike shop.

The 21-year-old said the location of the Bike Shop makes it hard for UNCA students to know about the opportunity to ride bikes for free. Students who want to make an environmental change miss out because they do not know about the free bike service.

Bike owners pay virtually nothing for owning and maintaining a bike beside the initial purchase price. People fail to acknowledge the simplicity of keeping up with a bike, since the skills to fix and maintain a bike can be learned easily, Wardle said.

“It’s mainly about understanding the basic physics of pulleys and levels,” Wardle said. “It’s just making sure nothing is too tight or too loose. Everything that could go wrong is visible.”

Bike riding outweighs other methods of transportation especially in a place like Asheville, Wardle said.

“You don’t have to pay to go downtown. You don’t have to pay to park anywhere. You can just tie your bike to something. It’s a great way to get exercise and move at the same time.”

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