Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bike Fixit Station @ the Roundabout

Many thanks to the City of Asheville for the Bike Fixit Station installed at the Clingman Roundabout.  It is already getting much use and appreciation.   Here is the City's write-up about it:
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City adds bicycle repair station to River Arts District
City of Asheville employees recently installed a “Fixit” bicycle service station at the Clingman Avenue roundabout.  It is a repair stand with an attached air pump and hand tools, including screwdrivers, wrenches and a tire lever.  The station provides an opportunity for a cyclist to make minor repairs and adjustments on the road rather than having to carry tools or walk an ailing bicycle home.
“The city consulted with members of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force and other cyclists about whether they would thought this was a good investment in encouraging bicycling, and to find the best location to test one of these stations,” said City Transportation Planner Barb Mee.  “This was the consensus.”
The River Arts District is a destination and a bicycle crossroads.  It is at the bottom of two long hills that join West Asheville and downtown, and near the Lyman Street and Riverside Drive bicycle lanes.  The location is also next to a transit stop that serves downtown and West Asheville.
People have already noticed the repair station.  Area resident Kelly Ingram noted, “the bicycle service station is incredibly helpful!  I can use it when I bike to and from work and when I'm commuting around town.  It is at a very convenient location so I don't have to worry if my tire gets low or I need a few tools while I'm in the River Arts District or biking to West Asheville!”
The station is an investment aligned with city goals of integrating non-motorized modes into the city’s transportation network and providing Asheville’s residents and visitors with transportation options.  It also makes the city friendlier to bicycles, another City Council objective.  According to Mee, “An area where bicyclists feel welcome is one where they will patronize area businesses and spend their money.  This, along with good bicycle parking, is a way to make cyclists feel welcome.”
“The cycling community is thrilled by the fix-it station in the River Arts District.  Cyclists can tune up their bicycles after a ride along the river and greenway.  The fix-it station also strengthens Asheville's commitment to multi-modal transportation as it's located at a bus stop on the recently improved sidewalks of Clingman Ave. I’m proud of our city’s expansion of infrastructure that supports the many modes people use throughout the day.  The fix-it is a winner,” said Mike Sule of Asheville on Bikes, an area advocacy group.
Bicycling for transportation is a way to incorporate physical activity into someone’s day.  Studies have found that people who use active transportation are, on average, more physically fit and have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease compared to people who use only motorized transportation.
"Kudos to the City for the installation of the Bicycle Fix-It Station in the River District.  People of all ages and sizes can reap the benefits of feeling good about their health and themselves by engaging in active transportation.  Studies show that the risk of chronic disease is reduced and that individuals report greater vitality and a sense of well-being when they walk or bicycle regularly".  Vicki Rowe-Currence, Health Promotion Educator and member of the Asheville Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force.
These public bicycle service stations have been used in other cities, including Wilmington (NC); Cambridge, Mass., and Omaha, Nebraska.
                This release can be found at http://www.ashevillenc.gov/NewsandEvents/CityNews/tabid/662/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/27115/City-installs-bicycle-repair-station.aspx.

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Here is some initial feedback posted on the WECAN kiosk, located next to it:



Check out a great set of photos of the new bike fixit station the City of Asheville installed in WECAN!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

East of the Riverway Surveys

At our last WECAN meeting, Jeff Staudinger from the City of Asheville, and Meg Williams from Appalachian State University discussed Sustainable Communities Initiative (East of the Riverway).  One component of this grant is the gathering of information through surveys.  Below is some more information:

Our Appalachian State grad students have met with many folks over the past few weeks to discuss a survey that we'll be conducting in the East of the Riverway neighborhood, which will focus on the area's transportation, energy and other community needs. We have been fortunate to have you and many of your friends and neighbors work on a draft survey with our class and other community members, but something we heard many of you say is that we need to work hard getting the word out that we will be conducting the surveys.

I realize some of you may have seen this, but I wanted to share this flier with you that we created in order to announce the surveys. Please feel free to pass it along electronically to anyone you feel appropriate. We appreciate your help in spreading the word, as we realize we don't have contact info for everyone who might find this information useful.

We'll also be posting fliers up around the neighborhood and we also have an ad in the Urban News and in the Housing Authority's newsletter this month, so we hope that these efforts will do well in preparing folks for the survey we'll be conducting with Green Opportunities and Just Folks. We plan to conduct the surveys at the end of March and early April.

Thank you so much for your help and please feel free to email me back with questions.

Best,
Meg

Megan Williams
mewilliams400@gmail.com
williamsme@appstate.edu
423-416-0839


Monday, March 5, 2012

Hillcrest Pedestrian Bridge Clean-up: This Saturday

Join WECAN and Hillcrest as we clean up around the pedestrian bridge!

This Saturday, March 10 from 11 am -3 pm.  Equipment will be provided, and food/drink will be donated by The Marketplace restaurant and Firestorm Cafe.

For more info, contact Luke:  lukewperry@yahoo.com



Friday, March 2, 2012

Crossroads Publication

At the WECAN board meeting last night, our Board Chair shared a copy of the publication, "Crossroads" with us.  Here is a link to the entire publication for your reading pleasure, with special thanks to Deborah Miles for providing it!

WECAN March 2012 Board Meeting Draft Minutes


WECAN Board on Thursday March 1, 2011 at Merritt Park Meeting Room
Members present:  Jessie Coleman, Joe FioccolaMike Kenton, Yuri Koslen, Luke W. PerryJoanne Skinner, Pattiy Torno and Suzanne Willis. Members not present were: Byron Ballard, Jeff Carnivale, Bret Frk, Tom Gibson and AnnaBeth Hardcastle.
Also present were Marsha Stickford, Jeff Staudinger, Megan Williams and Joan Walker

          Luke called the meeting to order at 6:34 asking for a round of introductions and a few skills or abilities people brought to the table.
Luke has design and building experience and a collection of power tools to share. Yuri has experience in community organizing and transit expertise. Jeff is the city’s Community Development Director and is all about empowerment. Pattiy loves to garden. Joe takes good notes to keep things on track. Suzanne announced she was moving in to a house on Rector Street in April. Meg is an App State Grad Student but has never been to the campus in Boone. Joan lives in Woodfin and is a people person. Marsha brings problem solving ideas and contacts. Jessie enjoys being in the community. Today she counted 40 people in Aston Park. Joanne has experience in the Communications field. Mike is a certified arborist and is the Vice-chair of the city’s Tree Commission.

          SCHEDULE CONFLICTS: APD was having a Department Awards Banquet. Marsha was at the new Chief’s swearing in ceremony in Council Chambers this morning. She said he is interested in meeting folks and if he is invited to a WECAN board meeting  he would come. Mike is enrolled in the Citizens Police Academy which will cause him to miss the April and May WECAN Board meetings. Expect him back in June. It was also announced that AnnaBeth was enrolled in classes which conflict with board meeting for the next several months.
The February Meeting MINUTES were approved as distributed with one correction to the name “Seth Hendler-Voss.”
SIDEWALKS: Mike identified a problem he sees from his kitchen window. He has seen pedestrians walking on Roberts St between the White Duck and the Traffic Circle almost get hit by cars. He contacted Gordon Smith who referred him to the City Manager Gary Jackson who referred him to the Transportation Department Director Ken Putnam, PE about getting sidewalks installed.  Marsha indicated that some traffic studies have been done in the area for the traffic circle and suggested checking the Bike-Pedestrian Plan for Key Linkages to see if Roberts street is listed. Pattiy pointed out that the old Burco building at 97 Roberts Street  was set to be developed into a residential use. Also that sidewalks were planned for Depot Street from Green’s Mini Mart  to the five points intersection funded by the city. There is not a lot of money available but the right path (no pun intended) is to get support from the community and get on the list and become a priority.  Pattiy requested to be emailed  as a member of the Riverfront Redevelopment Commission. Jessie brought up other pedestrian issues where Hilliard Avenue crosses Clingman Avenue.
EAST of the RIVER WAY: Jeff gave a short speech on the Big Picture: “It’s not just about the grant.” The grant is just one resource and one tool of many. It’s about the community coming together to sustain itself. It’s about the city, RADBO, Mountain Housing Opportunities, new people, affordable housing, getting around safely. These are not pass throughs but real neighborhoods. The App students will be working on an inventory of what’s there. The city’s commitment to invest in neighborhoods depends on critical mass and fixing what is broken and making things better. To do that there needs to be an inventory of buildings, infrastructure and people and what is important to them, what’s not working, what their behaviors are—so people don’t waste their grocery money on taxicabs to Tunnel Road grocery stores. The survey will be respectful of people’s privacy. They will only aggregate the information collected to develop a profile of the community. This allows action to be taken based on planning and priorities. ( A longer speech is available on request.)
SURVEY: Meg will help conduct the survey as a final Class Project. Last year they did a pilot survey and this year will aim for more pointed information related to transportation and energy: what are the community’s needs, feelings, habits. likes and dislikes. The methodology is to match 10 volunteers from Just Folks and Green Opportunities with 10 students. The class has determined that the sample area from parts of Census Track 9 plus Hillcrest and Lee Walker Heights has some two thousand households and they plan to conduct about 800 surveys to be statistically valid and will keep information discrete for different neighborhoods. She left a DRAFT survey that has been reviewed by the city, Just Folks, GO and Southside Community so far and requested any concerns or suggestions to be returned to her in the next week. Luke will email a copy of the  DRAFT Survey for review. The timeline is to start surveying by the end of March-beginning of April and completing the collating and preliminary analysis by the second of May and then consult some focus groups for greater detail. The report will be completed by June (when the class is done.)  
Jeff suggested some kind of premium (like a phone card) for people to share access to their energy bills in order to create a carbon footprint of the area.  Pattiy suggested  a few dollars off the next bill—and paper copies of the bills would not be required just the permission for Progress Energy to release the information which would only be received and used in aggregate. The idea also arose to distribute the ‘WECAN/ Block Jessie’ fliers to the survey households in WECAN or get list the addresses so there would not be duplicates or just ask the surveyors to distribute the fliers to every house.
          KIOSK: On Feb 21 Marsha, Luke, Pattiy, Byron and Joe met with Seth Hendler-Voss-the interim Maintenance Guy for Parks and Recreation and Cultural Arts who was open to ideas but realistic about constraints. A kiosk was something that was desired in the neighborhood for a very long time and then one appeared near the new traffic circle and we heard that EOTR had another one built but not yet assigned. We looked at a site at the top of the ramp which could be seen from both directions of sidewalk pedestrian and vehicular traffic and also visible from inside the park but was not safely wheelchair accessible on both sides due to the slope, and may have blocked the speed limit sign. A narrower kiosk could be considered. Then a site closer to the bus stop was considered but it would block the metal Owens Bell Park sign. Then Pattiy suggested  using ‘expanded steel’ mounted on the bus stop shelter.  She showed a couple of  photos with suggested placement. The advantages included aesthetically in keeping with the metal benches and sign, buses being able to see through to waiting passengers, ability to use magnets to hold up posters and fliers, ability to support a slate chalk board, has drive-by and walk-by visibility. Disadvantages include not being accessible from the garden side, potential for blocking the benches, and cost.
          PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE CLEAN UP:  Luke will check with Asheville Greenworks for supplies and water and Olufemi. Marsha said the sway car was still on track. Yuri will check with AnnaBeth for  a food contribution from the Downtown Market. Time is set for 1100 a.m. on Saturday March 10th.
          Luke passed out a map prepared by Bret showing the Department of Transportation, City of Asheville, Norfolk Southern Railroad, Asheville Board of Education and privately owned properties in WECAN and surrounding areas. Marsha pointed out that the city’s website (www.ashevillenc.gov)  (Online Services tab—Map Asheville then Active Mapper) provides access to multi-modal transportation options (pedestrian, bicycle, transit) throughout the City of Asheville. This includes sidewalks, greenways, bike lanes, bus routes, etc. It also includes proposed sidewalks ("Needed Linkages") and proposed bike infrastructure identified through pedestrian and bicycle master plans.
          STREET CLEANING: Clingman Avenue needs cleaning. Some turf issues between city and DOT, but will be cleaned soon for the planned striping.
          RIBBON CUTTING: Pattiy suggested an alternate date for the official closing/opening/ dedication/parade/floats/speeches, etc for the completed Clingman Avenue Streetscape. RADBA suggested  Saturday May 12th at 4 p.m. to allow time to get on the news. We still have to work around bus schedules and not sure if all the many people involved in this would prefer the Saturday or the original Tuesday June 5th date.
          ANNOUNCEMENTS: RADBA is promoting Second Saturdays arts-based events to make Asheville an important place in the world. Depot Street parking: 36 parking spaces planned possibly completed by 2013. RADBA also planning a fundraiser to pay for Asheville Greenworks to maintain the landscaping near the traffic circle and an arts-based initiative to mentor kids in the River Arts District.  
          ADOPT A HIGHWAY: cleanup set for Thursday March 22 at 10 a.m.
          GARDEN CLUB: OWENS BELL PARK Sunday March 11 at 4 p.m.
           CROSSROADS GROUP: Have regular group meetings that last only 1 hour, an ongoing conversation, community history, a publication, focused on the stories of the neighborhoods before urban renewal, what is gone and what remains, some photographs plus Shiloh area, talk about a museum, resources to develop strong neighborhoods..

Meeting adjourned at 8:24
Minutes submitted by Joe Fioccola.

Next  BOARD Meeting 6:30p.m. on Thursday April 5.

PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE CLEAN UP:      Saturday  March 10th. 1100 a.m.
GARDEN CLUB: OWENS BELL PARK  Sunday     March 11 at 4 p.m.
ADOPT A HIGHWAY: cleanup set for         Thursday March 22 at 10 a.m.