Blue Ridge Parkway: Closed to Cyclists?

08 Dec 11
Blue Ridge Parkway: Closed to Cyclists?

The Blue Ridge Parkway is the single most popular road for bicyclists in the Blue Ridge. Cyclists cherish the Parkway’s 469 scenic miles from Shenandoah to the Smokies. Even Lance Armstrong pedaled the high-elevation road during his Tour de France championship training.

Unfortunately, the Blue Ridge Parkway’s newly released draft management plan could limit cycling on the Parkway. The draft plan focuses exclusively on the Parkway being “actively managed as a traditional, self-contained, scenic recreational driving experience.”

The Parkway was formed through legislation in 1936. But a “traditional driving experience” in 1936 is far different than how users would choose to enjoy the Parkway in the 21st century. Motorized vehicles should not be the only way promoted to experience the Blue Ridge Parkway today.

The Draft Plan also states that the Blue Ridge Parkway is applying for National Historic Landmark status, as a way to manage the Parkway under the strain of diminishing National Park budgets. Under this status, any changes within the Parkway will go under intense historic review, which could block trail building, road maintenance, or future improvements for bicycle access. Despite the growing interest in bicycling, Park managers may not be able to accommodate cyclists or other non-motorized and alternative transportation users.

Here are the alternatives listed in the plan:

  • A = no change
  • B = promoting the “driving experience”
  • C = partnership with local economies

None of the alternatives are entirely bicycle-friendly, but B is the least bicycle-friendly of all. The Park has tentatively selected Alternative B, but public comment can change their decision.

The Parkway is overwhelmed and underfunded in trying to meet the needs of almost 20 million annual visitors. But on all counts, this draft plan fails to meet the vision created by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s Great Outdoors initiative, which includes a goal of connecting Americans to the outdoors. It further derails Director of the National Park Service Jon Jarvis’s challenge to Park managers to:

  • expand the use of our National Parks for outdoor recreation;
  • connect parks in or near urban areas through public transportation, and pedestrian and bike paths; and,
  • decrease carbon footprint, and showcase the value of renewable energy.

What You Can Do

Submit written comments on the Blue Ridge Parkway Draft Management Plan by December 16, to:

Superintendent Philip A. Francis, Jr.
Blue Ridge Parkway
199 Hemphill Knob Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Or formally submit comments through the on-line system, answering the following questions:

Question 1: What proposals or aspects do you like/dislike about the alternatives in this Draft General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (DGMP/EIS)?

I can  support proposed Option C only if comprehensive changes are made to include and promote bicycling, walking and other non-motorized forms of transportation as an integral part of the Parkway’s mission.

As a cyclist, I cannot support the over-arching goals presented in the Draft Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement.

First, a National Historic Landmark designation is the wrong way to protect the Parkway. This status will create obstacles and bureaucratic red tape, and entomb the Parkway in a virtual time capsule. Instead, we should trust the good judgment and stewardship of future generations to preserve and protect this treasure in perpetuity, while meeting the changing needs of our citizens.

Second, Park managers need to understand that the legislation that created the Parkway as a “driving experience” doesn’t fully meet the needs of today’s Parkway users, or potential users. The Parkway shouldn’t be promoted as a car-only roadway, but should meet the National Park Service’s Call to Action and Secretary Salazar’s vision of Connecting Americans to the Great Outdoors. By promoting and accommodating cycling and other forms of alternative transportation, Parkway managers will provide interactive and lasting experiences with one of America’s most loved treasures.

Finally, the Draft Plan’s alternatives do not address the growing interest in cycling, and fail to acknowledge the benefits that cycling brings to both the Parkway and surrounding communities. The Blue Ridge Parkway is an international cycling destination, and important recreation facility for surrounding communities; vital to their economies, and to provide them with healthy lifestyle opportunities.

Merely allowing cycling on the Parkway is not enough and the message to promote active, healthy use of the facility must be an integral part of the core management plan.


Question 2: Do you have any suggestions for improving the preferred alternative in this DGMP/EIS? If so, what are they?

Parkway management should:

1) halt the National Historic Landmark application process;

2) recognize and promote cycling in the Draft Management Plan as a viable and important aspect of Parkway visitation;

3) modify the  Draft Management Plan as presented and work with cyclists, the surrounding communities and the general public to meet the needs of today’s changing world. The plan should have a goal of building cycling and alternative transportation into the park planning process in order to meet the National Park Service’s Call to Action and Secretary Salazar’s vision for Connecting American’s to the Great Outdoors.

You can read more about the Parkway plan and its impact on cyclists here.

84 Comments

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  • Has the National Park Service considered charging tolls for drivers AND cyclists?

    Teresa Quesinberry   24 Jan 12, 8:27 pm

  • How about turning over the BRP to the states involved and get the Feds completely out of there. They screw up anything they touch, just open your eyes folks! The localaties along the way would make darn sure BRP is taken care of because of the tourist interest. 20 million annual visitors? Only the Fed and politicians can come up with a plan to loose money on that much potential. Local government working closely with free enterprise is the only way to go.

    Old Dave   04 Jan 12, 7:03 pm

  • Having been able to cycle the BRP Three times, It was one of my greatest memories. To bann is a great injustice to all citizens of this great nation. Do everything we can to stop this action.

    Michael Dennis   03 Jan 12, 10:53 pm

  • I personally think that the blue ridge park way should be open to all whether RV,car,motorcycle,cycles,etc. If your going to do away with anything traveling on the blue ridge parkway;do away with the automobiles releasing sulfur and killing the beautiful surroundings.What did cyclist ever do to be treated like such.

    Logan Crawford   27 Dec 11, 1:03 am

  • Actually, this appears to be a non-issue. Superintendent Phil Francis recently told Bicycle Retailer that “we’ve never had a discussion about limiting bicycle use as part of the GMP (draft management plan) process, not since I’ve been here.” Francis also went on to say that “Our plan is to continue to welcome bicyclists; we are not planning to change our policy at all.”

    Parkway officials also published a press release yesterday clarifying their position:

    http://hikinginthesmokys.blogspot.com/

    Jeff   20 Dec 11, 11:24 am

  • If you think it’s going to cost a lot to keep the parks open, just wait until you start paying for the healthcare of people who do not engage in recreational activity. And no, driving and recreation should not even be in the same sentence, unless, of course, one increases muscle strength from lifting their foot from the gas pedal to the brake.

    I support anything that promotes good health, especially cycling! Stop the National Historic Landmark application process; recognize and promote cycling in the Draft Management Plan; build cycling and alternative transportation into park planning.

    Maria Silvester   16 Dec 11, 2:34 pm

  • The Blue Ridge Parkway is an excellent road for cyclist to enjoy the great outdooors. No changes should be made that will inhibit cyclist from enjoying this beautiful roadway.

    Rick Ridgely   16 Dec 11, 1:19 pm

  • [...] News broke last week that bicycles could soon be banned from the Blue Ridge Parkway. As word spread to numerous forums a debate waged on what this means for locals and cottage industry that thrives around cycling tours on the scenic road spanning from Virginia into North Carolina. [...]

    Blue Ridge Parkway debate heats up « e-Parenting Site   16 Dec 11, 1:03 pm

  • Please leave the BRP open always to cyclists. This would be a huge detriment to cyclists if this is only opened to motorized vehicles.

    The cyclists also bring in a great deal of dollars toward camping/dining/hotels/tourism.

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    Howard D. Smith

    Howard Smith   16 Dec 11, 11:12 am

  • Keep the BRP open! Its a recreational road. Cycling is, and should be, a legal form of recreation. If automobile operators can not safely interact with cyclists due to inattention and unsafe speeds, regulate them. Dont take away our rights as cyclists to use a road because other users fail to meet their obligations.

    Greg Troyer   16 Dec 11, 9:51 am

  • The current direction of this legislation appears to limit future improvements that would promote cycling along the Blue Ridge Parkway. In a day and age where we as a society are attempting to conserve energy, limit pollution and promote healthy activity, this is clearly the wrong direction to take.

    Steve Petersen   16 Dec 11, 8:12 am

  • When countries all over the world have recognized the value of having bike paths,wide shoulders for cyclists to enjoy the beauty of our scenic country we have proposals to ban cyclists on such a wonderful highway???

    Arthur Monty   15 Dec 11, 10:38 pm

  • What a loss it would be if bicyclist couldn’t ride the Parkway. The loss would be one more reason Americans will have to keep exercising to little. Look at the trees we have killed with the pollution from our cars.

    Stephen Brainard   15 Dec 11, 10:29 pm

  • I can only support suggestion #2. Cyclists should be allowed the same access as cars.

    Al Drescher   15 Dec 11, 9:42 pm

  • This is unacceptable. Restore bicycles on the Blue Ridge Parkway. J

    J   15 Dec 11, 9:27 pm

  • [...] News broke last week that bicycles could soon be banned from the Blue Ridge Parkway. As word spread to numerous forums a debate waged on what this means for locals and cottage industry that thrives around cycling tours on the scenic road spanning from Virginia into North Carolina. [...]

    Blue Ridge Parkway debate heats up | WorldonBike.org   15 Dec 11, 5:58 pm

  • I drove from Baltimore, MD to participate for the first time in the Blue Ridge Brutal bike event sponsored by the Ashe Co. Arts Council this past August 13. It was very well organized and featured riding on a 20-mile section of the Parkway. It was an exhilarating experience and one I won’t forget. I sincerely hope the BRP will be kept open for bicyclists for years to come.

    D. Jack MacConnell   15 Dec 11, 5:22 pm

  • Removing bicyclists from the park is moving in the wrong direction. With the SNP suffering adversely from pollution, it is the automobile that needs removed, but a more reasonable approach is to keep the Parkway open to both.

    Jay Lazar   15 Dec 11, 4:44 pm

  • I am 70 years young, retired and work as a lifeguard in the summer. I am an avid cyclist and bike 30 minutes to and from work every day. I have been biking since I was a boy with a newspaper route. I have seen great improvements in bikes since then and they keep getting better. It seems to me that limiting the use of bicycles would be a step backward in the evolution of bicycling considering that improvement in cycling is moving forward.

    Ken Shaw   15 Dec 11, 4:36 pm

  • 1) Halt the National Historic Landmark application process. The designation would make it harder to make future improvements for bicycling access, such as wider shoulders and trails.

    2) Recognize and promote cycling in the Draft Management Plan as a viable and important aspect of Parkway visitation.

    3) Work with cyclists, the surrounding communities, and the general public to meet the needs of today’s changing world.

    James W. Clarke   15 Dec 11, 4:33 pm

  • I submitted the following comment on the official Blue Ridge Parkway form. I learned of the situation from a Bike Maryland email alert. I am a member of the Board of Directors (BOD), New York Bicycling Coalition; member BOD, Rochester Cycling Alliance; Secretary & member BOD, Canal New York Marketing & Business Alliance.

    Blue Ridge Parkway Draft General Management Plan / Environmental Impact Statement – September 2011
    Your comments were successfully submitted.
    December 15, 2011 01:19 PM Mountain Time

    Park: Blue Ridge Parkway
    Project: Blue Ridge Parkway General Management Plan (GMP) / EIS
    Document: Blue Ridge Parkway Draft General Management Plan / Environmental Impact Statement – September 2011

    Name: Harvey Botzman
    Address: 160 Harvard Street
    City: Rochester
    State: NY
    Postal Code: 14607
    Email Address: cyclotour@cyclotour.com
    Organization: Cyclotour Guide Books
    Keep My Info Private: No

    Comments: Topic Question 1: Proposals B & C: I dislike the possible banning or making it impossible for bicyclists to use the Blue Ridge Parkway. As the author of seven bicycle tour guide books the communities surrounding the Parkway will be negating the economic benefits of attracting bicyclists to use the Parkway and purchase goods, food, and lodging in those commuities. One of the many reasons the Parkway was originally built was for it to be an tourism economic stimulus for communities surrounding the Parkway.

    Topic Question 2: Bicycles and bicyclists using the Parkway reduce the carbon foot print of it. The Parkway Commission should be trying to improve the bicycling experience on the Parkway by building (over time) at least a three (3) meter shoulder on both sides of the Parkway. This is an expensive addition but it will be a dividend repaid many times over in the form of local sales and bed taxes as well as state and federal income taxes due to the continuation of employment of people working in local tourism industries.

    Topic Question 3: Restricting bicycling by not including provisions for bicycling along the paved Parkway and assuring the development of off road trails (but NOT trails to function as “side paths”) in the Draft and other Plans for the Parkway denies the increased number of touring bicyclists as well as bicycle commuters, and the use of bicycles for utilitarian purposes (e. g., going to the store, library, Parkway Visitors Center from a local lodging (b&b, motel, etc.) at this moment in the United States.
    Comments: [If I have time I might submit additional comments.]

    Comment ID: 707519-43487/2266

    Harvey Botzman   15 Dec 11, 4:26 pm

  • Please continue to allow for full use and access for bicyclists on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    Alex Hirtle   15 Dec 11, 3:46 pm

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  • I have ridden the Blue Ridge Parkway as a cyclists many times, and intend to do so again. To close this to cyclists would be contrary to the goals of allowing all citizens to see and enjoy the beauties of nature. This must continue to be available to cyclists!

    James Claffey   15 Dec 11, 3:33 pm

  • How about we make the BRP for bikers and hikers and cars banned!

    Chris sieverts   15 Dec 11, 3:17 pm

  • I support suggestion #2. The Blue Ridge should be shared by all; especially, users who put on the least wear and tear to area (cyclists and hikers).

    Brian Katzenberg   15 Dec 11, 2:52 pm

  • Please leave the Blue Ridge Parkway, and all our national parks, reserves, forests and refuges open for bicyclists!!!
    Berwyn Heights, MD

    james wilkinson   15 Dec 11, 2:38 pm

  • I strongly object to any plan that will restrict cycling on the parkway. The “driving experience” should be designed around a philosophy that includes speed limits and share the road signs that clearly caution drivers to “share the road”with cyclists who also deserve the right to enjoy a National Park experience.

    George Allmon   15 Dec 11, 2:31 pm

  • I am a cyclist and use our national parks as vacation spots every year. I have lots of friends who cycle on vacation. Cycling is an enhanced way of traveling through park areas. I use the road. I may be out on the road on my bicycle all day every day of my vacation. It would be a big disappointment to have my options limited at Blue Ridge Parkway. I live in Maryland and Blue Ridge Parkway is within a days drive. I love cycling the Shenandoah Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway dovetails into that experience. I would be happy to share the Parkway with motorists, but it would be even better to have it all for cyclists. Cycling is quiet and minimal impact. It is the perfect non-distracting form of transportation in the park. RVs and motorcycles are what should be banned if anything. Motorcycles often have loud mufflers. RV drivers tend to have trouble navigating the narrow roads of the park. We should promote the use of ecological transportation rather than limit it.

    J Steve Mohr   15 Dec 11, 2:30 pm

  • I am a senior cyclist, and I agree with the following responses to Questions 1 and 2.
    Bill Norwood, Greenbelt MD

    Question 1: What proposals or aspects do you like/dislike about the alternatives in this Draft General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (DGMP/EIS)?

    I can support proposed Option C only if comprehensive changes are made to include and promote bicycling, walking and other non-motorized forms of transportation as an integral part of the Parkway’s mission.

    As a cyclist, I cannot support the over-arching goals presented in the Draft Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement.

    First, a National Historic Landmark designation is the wrong way to protect the Parkway. This status will create obstacles and bureaucratic red tape, and entomb the Parkway in a virtual time capsule. Instead, we should trust the good judgment and stewardship of future generations to preserve and protect this treasure in perpetuity, while meeting the changing needs of our citizens.

    Second, Park managers need to understand that the legislation that created the Parkway as a “driving experience” doesn’t fully meet the needs of today’s Parkway users, or potential users. The Parkway shouldn’t be promoted as a car-only roadway, but should meet the National Park Service’s Call to Action and Secretary Salazar’s vision of Connecting Americans to the Great Outdoors. By promoting and accommodating cycling and other forms of alternative transportation, Parkway managers will provide interactive and lasting experiences with one of America’s most loved treasures.

    Finally, the Draft Plan’s alternatives do not address the growing interest in cycling, and fail to acknowledge the benefits that cycling brings to both the Parkway and surrounding communities. The Blue Ridge Parkway is an international cycling destination, and important recreation facility for surrounding communities; vital to their economies, and to provide them with healthy lifestyle opportunities.

    Merely allowing cycling on the Parkway is not enough and the message to promote active, healthy use of the facility must be an integral part of the core management plan.

    Question 2: Do you have any suggestions for improving the preferred alternative in this DGMP/EIS? If so, what are they?

    Parkway management should:

    1) halt the National Historic Landmark application process;

    2) recognize and promote cycling in the Draft Management Plan as a viable and important aspect of Parkway visitation;

    3) modify the Draft Management Plan as presented and work with cyclists, the surrounding communities and the general public to meet the needs of today’s changing world. The plan should have a goal of building cycling and alternative transportation into the park planning process in order to meet the National Park Service’s Call to Action and Secretary Salazar’s vision for Connecting American’s to the Great Outdoors.

    Bill Norwood   15 Dec 11, 2:17 pm

  • I don’t understand the need to prohibit bicyclists from the parkway. I can’t imagine it will save even a modest amount of money. I’m also pretty sure that bicycles don’t create wear and tear on the road surface.

    Joe Brenner   15 Dec 11, 12:10 pm

  • sad news,,there are many riders who come up from the atlanta area regularly to ride there..it brings goood money to nc economy.van

    van council   15 Dec 11, 10:12 am

  • sad news,,there are many riders who come up from the atlanta area regularly to ride there..it brings goood money to nc economy.van

    van council   15 Dec 11, 10:12 am

  • We are trying to promote nationally a movement for preservation of the environment, and greater participation in activities that benefit our health. I don’t see how closing off this beautiful space to cycling and allowing only autos does anything towards this cause. Cars will continue to polute this beautiful environment for years, and we have already seen the deadly effects of harmful gases created by fuel consuming autos. Promoting cycling along this beautiful road would be a much more sensible message to send.

    Jane Sneeringer   15 Dec 11, 10:02 am

  • oops I forgot to mention…I have enjoyed riding my Roubaix here on the BRP in Jackson/Haywood counties. I enjoy a good a ride to Water Rock Nob or Richland Balsam in the summer months and rides like Hurt Pain and Agony, Blood Sweat and Gears and the once Tour De Tuck have all been quite painful and enjoyable on the BRP especially that climb out of GSMNP (lol)…a great road for recreational cycling for sure!

    Robert Williams   15 Dec 11, 9:31 am

  • The frasir fir was attacked or infested with the balsam woolly adeldig starting in the early 1980s. Automobiles had zero to do with the decline of the tree. On a high note they are recovering quite well atop of Mt. LeConte.

    As a former greenway and trail planner of nearly 13 years, I would advocate for additional footpaths, mountain bike access and where feasible multi-use trails along the BRP corridor. The BRP if never existed and were proposed today the rabid environmental community would oppose it and I suggest it would not be built at all. One one hand the BRP is a road atop the ridges of the southern Apps and it is scenic too while the other hand it is a NPS unit which means balancing the environment, historic preservation, and recreational needs. This is not like any other national park given it is primarily a road. Expanding use opportunities should be on the forefront for this park, not limiting them. Cyclists are part of the mix when it comes to travel due the right of a bicyclist to access public streets and roads, sans Interstates under the law.

    I would hope the management plans, as I have not read them, would address maintaining the views of the overlooks rather than letting them grow in with trees. It is the point of the over look is it not too have a good view?

    Robert Williams   15 Dec 11, 9:27 am

  • Riding the BRP with friends was the most enjoyable and rewarding expierience I’ve ever enjoyed in the out of doors. Huge mistake to be biased against cyclists who are stiving to maintain their health in an out door invironment.

    Jonathan Hale   15 Dec 11, 12:40 am

  • The Blue Ridge parkway is not a interstate or a highway!It’s a wonderful part of Western North Carolina.It’s place for people to eat lunch watch the sun shine over the surounding mountains.Also to see the history of the people where they lived and how they survived.Just remember not all people can drive so I ride my bike to the park way to eat lunch and enjoy the surounding and the peaceful sound of nature.Please explane the reason for closing the it to cyclist!

    jonathan guffey   15 Dec 11, 12:04 am

  • Mr. Cooley should get his facts straight regarding what’s causing the demise of the Fraser firs on Clingmans Dome and in several spots along the Parkway. Acid rain caused by coal-fired energy plants and an insect known as the balsam woolly adelgid appear to be the true culprits.

    PauletteB   14 Dec 11, 3:08 pm

  • While I believe that cyclists have every right to be on the Parkway, every year I encounter dozens of cyclists who refuse to obey the rules of the road. Most of the problems are caused by groups who ride 3 and 4 abreast so they can “chat” while riding. That’s rude and inconsiderate, not to mention against the law. Note to drivers: Having your lane obstructed by inconsiderate cyclists DOES NOT give you the right to pull into mine to get around them, especially on a blind curve. You wait till the opposing lane is clear before pulling into it; that’s also the law!

    PauletteB   14 Dec 11, 2:59 pm

  • These comments are great, but Mr. Francis Jr. needs to hear it directly – PLEASE fill out the online questionnaire!!

    Any proposition that suggests limiting bicycle use on the BRP is preposterous. As a local resident, a business owner in the outdoor industry, outdoor event organizer and an avid cyclist, it disturbs me that any proposition was even considered. I don’t understand the correlation of the being chartered in the Historic Registry and limited bicycle use. Any and all initiatives should be focused on the best interests of the Parkway AND perhaps even advocating cycling on the Parkway. Turning the focus to DRIVING will make the BRP the next “Tail of the Dragon”. Bikers and sports car enthusiasts will be coming from 4 corners of to see how fast they can rip through the roads that we call our beautiful serene home. I assure you the things that you and I appreciate, and and are legitimately promoted about the BRP are better experienced on foot or by bicycle rather than by car. This proposition is inviting everything from noise pollution to a higher rate of safety related traffic incidents. Cyclist are absolutely ZERO threat to the future or existence of the BRP. During any of my 30-45 days per year riding on the BRP between Cherokee and Asheville, I encounter FAR more irresponsible and destructive motorcyclists and car drivers than I’ve seen irresponsible or threatening cyclists. And I’ve NEVER seen a motor law being enforced – EVER. If this were proposed in Washington, California, or Colorado, etc. – there would be an uproar. Please don’t embarrass yourselves by taking a National Park and removing a critical means of outdoor recreation away from it. Its this exact mentality that is making kids fat and taking emphasis away from the things we should be doing to enjoy what little pristine land we have remaining.

    Rob G   14 Dec 11, 1:38 pm

  • The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of my favorite crossing experiences.
    I envision the beauty at sunset I managed to capture when I traveled. I would really be disappointed,
    if the plan would limit any access for cyclists, to the Shenandoah Valley Experience.
    Please do not make any changes.

    laurice Schwartz   13 Dec 11, 3:50 pm

  • I have bicycled the Blue Ridge Parkway with my four children and husband on several occasions and can honestly say it was one of the best cycling experiences in well over 50,000 miles of cycling. It would truly be a disservice to future generations to restrict such an incredible outdoor experience of an American treasure. Please do what ever is possible to preserve cycling on the parkway.

    Lisa Edwards   13 Dec 11, 1:45 pm

  • [...] following a study focusing on the parkway as a scenic driving experience. See the article here. Tweet [...]

    Items of Interest Today (12/13/11)   13 Dec 11, 12:55 pm

  • My family has enjoyed the parkway for decades. Not only by car but cycling, hiking, and rock climbing. Please consider all activities and their importance in people’s lives and how everyone can have a chance to be part of the Blue Ridge Parkway experience.
    Your decision will impact thousands of people.

    Katie Rauck   13 Dec 11, 10:03 am

  • [...] Click here for more information on the topic. [...]

    Why the Parkway Plan Is Bad for Bicyclists — Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine   12 Dec 11, 6:13 pm

  • It is PUBLIC Access, I am the Public, in my wheelchair or bicycle or being carried by my boys. Exon and Getty must step aside for Mother!

    Barbara Lee Henson   12 Dec 11, 5:00 pm

  • The Blue Ridge Parkway reminds me of my hometown back in South America. Indeed, it is one of the best experiences a cyclist can have when riding in this precious place. Let’s try to live together, bikes and cars users; we all need to have fun. After all life is short and there is already enough polarization in this country and this issue should not be part of it.

    Jorge Rincon   12 Dec 11, 12:25 pm

  • The Parkway should do all it can to promote cycling which is low impact and facilitates healthy lifestyles.

    chuck lampley   11 Dec 11, 9:23 pm

  • I have ridden on the parkway with a group of 20 cyclist’s and it was one of my greatest experiences in my life!!! I am a very active cyclist and intend to do much more riding on the blue riddge parkway! Seeing the parks and mountains, such as the smokies on bicycle is a wonderful experience, and I have ridden thousands of miles in east tennessee and my favorite rides are the smokies and I have ridden in shenandoah also ! This is the greatest country in history and mainly because we have freedom to follow our dreams and to choose our activities. To close the blue ridge to cyclist’s is shameful and unamerican! We have just as much right to use it
    as anyone else, plus we are greener on bicycles than any other users.
    Just look at klingman’s dome where the evergreens are dying because of the auto
    exhaust pollution. We cyclists spend money where we ride and we hold charity rides to benefit society groups and we simply love to ride and enjoy our america!
    Please don’t take our right to use this great blue ridge away from us. You will not regret keeping it open for cycling. Cycling is growing faster than the next five individual sports combined! You will make a huge mistake and miss the benefit brought by cyclist’s. We spread the word to the cycling community when we enjoy
    an area or as we call it a route. And cycling on the blue ridge will expand greatly if you don’t shut us out! I have seen videos of those who cycled many miles on the blue ridge because they put them online and it just naturally attracts other cyclists to come ride the blue ridge. I have a trip in planning to ride a few hudred miles and spend many days on the blue ridge and the nearby communities while doing so all while riding just on my bicycle! So you misjudge the value of cyclist’s in what we bring to our use of this treasure. We bring dollars and we dont breakdown the road,
    or add pollution. We should be considered as 2 wheeled spokesman for the glory of the parkway because we love it and want to bring others to experience and enjoy it as we do!!! Give us the same consideration as any other transportation! We deserve to be included as parkway users! If we are denied ,everyone will become losers for you will be losing a valuable asset of the cycling experience on the parkway! Everyone I heard speak of riding on the blue ridge was thrilled and planned on going again and again as regular rides that are scheduled each year and it is growing!
    Thanks, Mark A. Cooley

    Mark A. Cooley   11 Dec 11, 9:13 am

  • C’mon BRO. Quit being so sensationalistic. You only confuse matters.

    Pedaleur   11 Dec 11, 7:31 am

  • Good fear article. I think they should go the way of the Natchez Trace around Tupelo and make it into a highway – so car can drive as fast as they want without fear of the Park Service doing anything about speeding…

    If they go for Interstate status can they dip into the National Highway Funds?

    Got Ya

    Joe Autolove   10 Dec 11, 12:24 pm

  • Clearly identified lanes for cyclists with a share the road programs is a new development in Ontario, Canada. As a worst case scenario a share the road programs, that at least satisfies everyone, should sufice.
    Based on tourism revenue statistics both in the U.S. and Canada hundreds of million of dollars flow into local restuarants and hotels and other product and services, that have a major influence on local economies.
    I reccomend public officials to think twice before cutting off the hand that feeds the economy.
    Maybe your organization could find some public officials that are avid cyclists to support your cause.

    Best of luck!

    To Your Cycling and Bocking Adventures

    Peter Armstrong
    705-294-0596
    http://www.borntoridebicycle.com
    Cycling Tours
    I C E indoor cycling events
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    Peter   10 Dec 11, 10:06 am

  • Ou s’en va le monde si on ne peut plus faire de vélo nul part! Je voulais faire un voyage de vélo avec 4 amis à cet endroit mais je vais devoir changer pour aller ailleurs pour dépenser mon argent canadien.
    Jogreg , Mont-Tremblant, Quebec

    Joël Grégoire   10 Dec 11, 9:05 am

  • The Blue Ridge parkway should be open to everyone, especially bikers, hikers and pedestrians. The parkway was built so people could explore all that nature has to offer and to preserve this for generations to come.

    Brad Smith   10 Dec 11, 1:06 am

  • I think we should try to raise the money and put a small bike lane on both sides of the road.We could most likely start a fund that would raise most of the money.

    Jimmy.smith   09 Dec 11, 11:57 pm

  • Why do you say “B” is the least bicycle friendly? That is not what I read.

    Dave Holland   09 Dec 11, 11:11 pm

  • The Blue Ridge Parkway should remain open to cyclists.

    Pat Mullen

    pat mullen   09 Dec 11, 10:34 pm

  • The essence of the issue is, Parkway management is trying to wall themselves off from having to interface with local communities and user groups, by closing side roads and feeder trails; then preserve this fifedom with National Historic Landmark status.

    Cycling on the Parkway will probably always be “allowed,” but…

    This is still devastating to road and mountain bikers, hikers, and equestrians who have had “out your backdoor” access for decades. Now they’ll have to go miles out of their way — probably in their cars — to access trails on Parkway property, or ride on the Parkway itself.

    The convenient side effect would be fewer everyday cyclists, which management often views as being “in the way” of their preferred customer, The Motorist.

    Mountain bikers especially are being sawed off at the knees.

    We have an action alert on our blog, but the best analysis so far is from Anne Whisnant, who commented above. We have links to her articles on our blog too.

    Please also submit comments on the proposed closing of Roanoke Mountain Campground, an important stop for long distance bike tourists.

    vabike   09 Dec 11, 7:34 pm

  • Virginia Bicycling Federation can help those of you wanting a bit more balance in your call for action:

    http://www.vabike.org/new-blue-ridge-pkwy-plan-happy-motoring-only/

    But the gist of the messaging here and there is the same, Master Plans aren’t to be taken lightly and cyclists should participate in the public comment period by asking for more emphases to be placed on supporting cycling along the parkway and being open to additional cycling trails, amenities, and lanes along the route.

    Don’t assume, the term “driving experience” means “Share The Road”!!

    Richard Grossman   09 Dec 11, 7:00 pm

  • Is there anyway you can amend your article to include Mr. Dobo’s links and recommendations. The alarmist nature of this article is already getting it forwarded virally on facebook, and I can already see the everyone under the sun (I almost did! ) sending in the pre written document to the park without fully reading the actual plan. Having multiple letters forwarded to them from cyclist who haven’t read the facts wouldn’t necessarily help the cycling cause, just prove we were to impatient to learn about the subject matter before commenting on it. Thanks.

    ed   09 Dec 11, 6:33 pm

  • NPS, please allow cyclists to drive our bikes through OUR national treasure. Thanks for allowing me to comment.

    James Smith   09 Dec 11, 6:10 pm

  • Bicycles are defined as vehicles and bicyclists as drivers of vehicles. In NC this is per G.S. 20-4.01(49). Think of yourself as a bicycle driver who’s driving experience will be enhanced.

    Wayne Pein   09 Dec 11, 5:13 pm

  • In a overweight, non connected society such as ours limiting contact to natural environments is not the way to go. Not only great gor the Physical but also the spiritual body, the ability to experience nature is truely a beautiful experience that can not occur from the inside of you car.

    Jeff Garvey   09 Dec 11, 5:12 pm

  • This blog post may confuse two issues:

    1. The BRParkway is inviting public comment on the use and future of the Parkway, and has been inviting comment and working on this for quite a while. While i haven’t heard of any real threat to cycling on the Parkway in these plans, it doesn’t hurt to make your voice known – All park users and cyclists, please share how you would like to see the Parkway utilized at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?parkID=355&projectID=10419&documentID=43487

    2. On a National level there has been legislation introduced that would affect cycling laws in ALL national Parks. This poses a larger threat to cycling laws on the BRP and beyond.

    Lora Elder   09 Dec 11, 3:51 pm

  • I biked in the blue ridge last summer and it was the most amazing riding I’ve done in my life! Please keep it that way!

    Devon baummer   09 Dec 11, 3:51 pm

  • Just read the draft management plan. Chapter 2, Page 48: “Continue to allow bicycling on the main parkway road and other parkway roads, recognizing that bicyclists would be sharing the road with higher volumes of motorized traffic, especially in the more urbanized areas of the parkway.” That’s in Alternative B.

    While I don’t doubt that the NPS would be dumb enough to restrict cycling, I couldn’t find the indication that they actually will.

    Myles   09 Dec 11, 2:41 pm

  • I too am “with Kevin Dobo” on this one—the piece seems overly angst-ridden (pun intended) and Plan B would probably not eliminate cycling. As author of “Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway” and other books I’m a passionate devotee of recreation on the Parkway—and I too worry that National Historic Landmark status might “entomb” Parkway recreation in the past. My guess—most likely impact of Plan B would be that mountain biking is likely forever off the rec list, much less new trails for the exploding sport. Best evidence—Cone Park’s 25-miles of tough-surfaced trails are already entombed for horseback (and hiking paths) because historically, 100-years ago, it seems horses ruled the roost in Cone Park! Check out this in-depth piece I wrote on the plan for more—http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2011/11/blue-ridge-parkway-management-alternatives-draw-more-little-debate9037

    Randy Johnson
    Banner Elk, NC

    Randy Johnson   09 Dec 11, 12:27 pm

  • As an active cyclist that lives 2 miles off the parkway at Craven Gap, I absolutely think banning cycling is a bad idea. It is one of the few safe roads to ride in the mountains where I do not feel threatened by motor vehicles. I would not mind paying a user fee to access the parkway year round. I feel the park service should charge a user fee for all vehicles based on size and frequency of use. The local residents see it as one of our greatest assets for tourism and recreation. Cyclists come from all over the world to ride the Parkway and probably pump millions of dollars into the local ecomnomies which border it. Please do not ban cycling!

    BRUCE STAHLE   09 Dec 11, 12:07 pm

  • I am with Kevin Dobo on this one. This is a highly inflammatory article that completely ignores this statement within Plan B: “Continue to allow bicycling on the
    main parkway road and other parkway roads, recognizing that bicyclists
    would be sharing the road with higher volumes of motorized traffic, especially in the more urbanized areas of the parkway.”
    I do believe cyclists should be allowed to use the Parkway, and more communication about ways to protect all users of the road is always appreciated.
    I hope that all readers of this article will take a good look at the draft plan before they buy into this hype. Then make your decision.

    Reader   09 Dec 11, 11:37 am

  • Read carefully before acting… you might get what you wish for… maybe!

    Sean Dunlap   09 Dec 11, 11:16 am

  • NO CHANGE!

    Scott Erker   09 Dec 11, 9:52 am

  • Thank you for providing us a summary as well as a way to easily comment on this issue. It took me all of 2 mintues thanks to your assistance.

    Chip   09 Dec 11, 9:18 am

  • By “traditional scenic recreational driving experience” they mean not placing an emphasis on traffic speed nor throughput. So it’s pretty much the opposite of what you claim.

    Also, I draw your attention to this section under Plan B on page 444:

    “The parkway and other park roads would
    continue to be available to bicyclists and
    provide an outstanding cycling experience. In
    general, the parkway’s limited access, lower
    traffic levels, and scenic setting provide for a
    quality cycling experience.”

    However, options B and C place an emphasis on tearing up and segmenting habitats by ripping multi-use paved paths through the park. I would oppose these and instead ask for improved shoulders where feasible. This would probably be cheaper too.

    John   09 Dec 11, 3:35 am

  • Will, are you employed by a DOT contractor? Plan C only funnels tax dollars that direction when it comes to the bike use issue.

    Adam Penny   09 Dec 11, 2:19 am

  • I read the documents themselves and they specifically stated, and made a point to say, the parkway would not be closed to cyclists. Where am I missing this “banning of bikes” language?
    I did find out, though, that Alternate C is not a good choice (in my opinion) due to the fact that it will give a DOT contract which will be a huge waste of taxpayer’s dollars. A separate multiuse path (bicyclist WITH pedestrians). Similar to Rails to Trails (which is a great idea for old railways, but is a bit of a bad mix of users (moms with babyjoggers, grandparents with little kids running all over, and cyclists averaging at times speeds anywhere from 8-28mph!!)
    Choose option “B” in your comments.
    Will, I am disappointed with your writings.

    Adam Penny   09 Dec 11, 2:17 am

  • I moved to Western North Carolina SPECIFICALLY because I love riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway. So believe me when I say that I am very much opposed to ANY legislation or other actions which may threaten my right and ability to ride the hundreds of miles of this beautiful scenic highway.

    That said, I do not understand the panic-inducing language of this article. First of all, it does not even include a link to the proposed draft management plan. The plan link is http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=355&projectID=10419&documentID=43487

    Secondly, there is no language WHATSOEVER that threatens cyclists access to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The words “driver experience” are vague at best, and it is much more logical to assume that the people drafting this document didn’t care one way or another about people on bikes instead of in cars because we are a tiny fraction of the total traffic. By nearly all national and state laws, a bike is a vehicle and I can just as easily say I “drive” a bike as I “ride” a bike.

    Third, the article instructs us to follow a survey link and copy/paste a bunch of boilerplate language that will do absolutely NOTHING to help the cause of cyclists.

    Fourth, if you had bothered to read the document in full, Plan B calls for, and I quote,

    “Continue to allow bicycling on the
    main parkway road and other parkway
    roads, recognizing that bicyclists
    would be sharing the road with higher
    volumes of motorized traffic,
    especially in the more urbanized areas
    of the parkway.”

    Where does that language suggest the Parkway could be “closed to cyclists?”

    Despite all my objections, this is still an opportunity for any cyclist who enjoys riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway to be heard. If nothing else, we can ask for MORE consideration instead of less, or none. If you want to make an impact and be heard, instead of copying the boilerplate, I would suggest that you please find and read the actual plan, and then write, in your OWN WORDS, your thoughts and opinions on this matter.

    Kevin Dobo   09 Dec 11, 2:06 am

  • [...] Blue Ridge Parkway: Closed to Cyclists? (Blue Ridge Outdoors) [...]

    New Blue Ridge Pkwy. Plan — “Happy Motoring” Only? | Virginia Bicycling Federation   09 Dec 11, 1:11 am

  • Let bikers use the parkway! Ban cars because they destroy the beauty and the protection the president wanted when Ike made the roads. Let the people protect the land not destroy it!

    Michael   09 Dec 11, 12:32 am

  • Good article. I will send in my comments — which will be quite similar to those I sent on the draft plan in 2008. I’m a historian who’s worked on the Parkway history for 20 years and published a major book on this in 2006 (Super-Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Parkway History). Thinking historically about what was proposed in the draft GMP in 2008, I analyzed the alternatives and recommended adoption of alternative C, with several caveats. I also raised the issue of bicycling and the “entombing” function of the NHL status. Readers who would like to see more of my analysis can read my 2008 blog postings about this here: http://www.blueridgeparkwayblog.com/?s=GMP

    Anne Mitchell Whisnant
    Chapel Hill, NC

    Anne Whisnant   08 Dec 11, 8:59 pm

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