We heard today about pending actions that could have serious repercussions for cyclists riding on the picturesque Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina. Due to budget constraints, the National Parks Service is considering designating it a National Historic Landmark.
While preserving the road seems like a great idea, all Historic Landmarks must undergo intense historical and environmental reviews before any changes are made. Why is that a bad thing? Because at best it would mean miles of red tape and bureaucracy before improving bicycle infrastructure and at worst it would mean forcing bicycles off the roads altogether.
While the Draft Management Plan includes language promoting the park be "actively managed as a traditional, self-contained, scenic recreational driving experience…" there is no language preserving access or considerations for cyclists.
The Blue Ridge Park is the most-visited National Park in the United States, drawing 20 million visitors annually, but the 470 mile road also includes several touring routes laid out by the Adventure Cycling Association and is used by bicycle tour groups.
What you can do
You can submit written comments on the Blue Ridge Parkway Draft Management Plan to:
Superintendent Philip A. Francis, Jr.
Blue Ridge Parkway
199 Hemphill Knob Road
Asheville, NC 28803
Or formally submit comments through the online system by answering the following three questions:
- What proposals or aspects do you like/dislike about the alternatives in this Draft General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (DGMP/EIS)?
- Do you have any suggestions for improving the preferred alternative in this DGMP/EIS? If so, what are they?
- Do you have any other comments related to this DGMP/EIS?
See the Virginia Bicycling Federation’s website for sample answers.
Comments are due December 16, 2011.
The commotion seems to have been overblown. The Blue Ridge Parkway superintendent Phil Francis says the park’s "intent is to continue to welcome bicyclists as we always have."