Follow-up: Warmer temperatures invite cyclists to go for a ride


Will Rhodarmer

Infographic on cycling.

Will Rhodarmer, [email protected], Arts & Features Writer

With temperatures beginning to rise, more and more people are out and about. Riding a bike is an excellent mode of transport as well as a beloved pastime. 

UNC Asheville junior Joe Franco, an employee at the Campus Recreation Bike Shop, reports that business at the bike shop is continuing to be substantial.

“Business has been pretty good,” Franco said. “Not as busy as it was last semester but I still do expect it to pick up as temperatures continue to rise.” 

For those looking to get into biking this summer, there are plenty of resources and suggestions available to help out.

“I would say put your safety first. Wear some kind of bright color or something reflective, always be aware of traffic and never forget to wear your helmet,” said UNCA Director of Sustainability Alison Ormsby.

In Asheville, there are some potentially underutilized havens for experienced and inexperienced bikers alike.

“Outside of the bike shop, there are great resources in Asheville for people looking to get started in biking. I would highly recommend the Bicycle Thrift Shop in South Asheville. They’re a non-profit that takes used bikes and sells them for very cheap. Another great resource is the Asheville Recyclery in Downtown, they’re another non-profit that sells incredibly cheap bikes out of this huge warehouse,” said Franco.

While biking is a key mode of transport, it should also be a way to find enjoyment.

“Enjoy yourself. Be polite to other bikers. If you’re just out for a nice ride, try to have a great time,” Ormsby said.

Summer presents a meaningful opportunity to bike – encouraged by warmer temperatures and potential excess time.

“I prefer biking in warmer temperatures, it’s very harsh to bike in cold and dry temperatures,” said UNCA sophomore Cole Bruner. “Right in the middle can be very nice. Summer is great, but fall and spring are perfect times for biking in my opinion. I haven’t biked recently but plan on doing it recreationally now that it is spring.”

Franco feels that all conditions can be conducive for a good bike ride.

“I like to encourage cycling all year-round. Obviously the summer is a great time and probably more appealing for more people, but different seasons offer different experiences. As long as you know how to properly dress you can enjoy biking at any time,” Franco said.

Last year the city of Asheville approved a reconfiguration of Merrimon Avenue, one that would turn a four lane road into a three lane road with a bike lane.

“The city’s desire to improve bicycle access is a great step in the right direction, but I was very disappointed there’s no sort of barrier between the cars and the bike lane,” Franco said. “It can really deter people with less biking experience due to the aspect of danger. In order for bicycling to really become popular, a majority of the population needs to feel safe and comfortable to ride.” 

The approved change sparked much controversy, both from some car drivers upset about lane shrinkage, and some bikers wondering why the lanes remain non-functional.

“What we should want in our society is a multi-modal transportation system, a system that allows biking, bus riding and walking,” Ormsby said. “The way Merrimon was designed was 100% pro-car. I know drivers are frustrated in this growing pain state, but in the long run it will be to the benefit of the people. I’m in agreement with the bike lanes. It could be happening a bit faster and I wish the lanes were more clearly marked, but it’s heading in the right direction.”

An ever-present issue for bikers is the existence and close proximity of cars. 

“I think as our infrastructure is currently built, the bulk of the responsibility unfortunately lies on the car driver. Cars are incredibly lethal to bikers and there should be some moral responsibility to not treat others’ lives as less meaningful just because they are on a bike. I would agree that plenty of bikers do things that are unconventional around the road, but I would argue that is because of an absence of adequate biking infrastructure. For example, bikers going on the road and then on the sidewalk, as they may feel incredibly unsafe on the road in some areas,” Bruner said.

Ormsby believes the city of Asheville and America as a whole have a long way to go to reach healthy multi-modal transport.

“Europe and Latin America are both way ahead of us in terms of bike infrastructure,” Ormsby said. “There are ways to set up more livable cities that have protected bike lanes. In many cities in Europe, there’s a strip between the car lanes and the bike lane, so the cyclists are more protected. We really need to shift our mindset away from solely cars and more toward the concept of multi-modal transportation. I’d definitely like to see Asheville become more bike friendly, I know we have a long way to go.”