NC bill would require all cyclists to register their bicycles

House Bill 157, introduced by Representative Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes, would require all NC cyclists riding on a public street or highway to pay a $10 registration fee and attach a registration plate to the back of their bicycle or risk a $25 ticket. The fees would be used for “bicycle safety-related projects” such as bike lanes, bike signage, safety education and bicycle helmet grants for minors.

Opponents of the bill say that it will discourage people to use alternative transportation, an act that should be encouraged. Opponents also point out that the registration fee is so low that there won’t be enough money generated to fund bicycle safety-related projects.

Similar bills in other states have not met their objectives and disproportionately affect people with low incomes. The bill does not address how enforcement would affect cyclists coming from out of state to compete in races or bike tours or who bike for fun while visiting. In 2017 the Southern Blue Ridge Bicycle Plan found that bicycle tourism impacted the economy to the tune of $14 million a year.

Georgia will invest $150 million in 3 rural solar projects

Silicon Ranch Corporation, the U.S. solar platform for Shell, has committed to investing approximately $150 million in three solar projects in Early County, GA. The first project is a 102.5-megawatt solar farm already under construction in Blakely, GA.

The solar farm, built in partnership with Walton EMC, will support Facebook’s data center in Newton County. More than 400 workers, many of them local, will be hired for the 10-month construction project. The other two solar farms in Early County will sell the power they generate to Green Power EMC. “This innovative project will result in Georgia-made projects providing energy in Georgia communities to power Georgia homes and Georgia businesses,” Georgia’s Governor Kemp said.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park welcomed a record number of visitors in 2018

The number of visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park increased 0.7 percent between 2017 and 2018 for a total of 11,421,203 visitors. The increase is attributed to the opening of the new section of the Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley in November. In just two months, nearly 200,000 visitors experienced the newest part of the park.

The highest visitation month in 2018 was July, followed by June and October. Visitors spent nearly 400,000 nights camping in the park. Great Smoky Mountains National Park remains the most visited park in the country. The second most visited park in 2018 was Grand Canyon National Park, which received 6,380,495 visitors. Other most visited parks last year include Rocky Mountains NP (4,590,483 visitors), Zion NP (4,320,033 visitors), Yellowstone NP (4,115,000 visitors), Yosemite NP (4,009,436 visitors), Acadia NP (3,537,574 visitors), Grand Teton NP (3,491,151 visitors), Olympic NP (3,104,455 visitors), and Glacier NP (2,965,309 visitors).