Trail projects encourage more walking, biking
The City of Asheville has given the green light for more greenways, with five currently in different stages of development.
City officials believe that greenways contribute positively to the livability of residents in terms of allowing for alternative transportation (walking and biking) as well as for recreation and exercise, plus greenways are another good way to attract tourism dollars to Asheville. Greenways have consistently ranked high on the public’s list of civic infrastructure priorities, and the city has been working to create multi-use paths in parks, neighborhoods and along river corridors that will altogether measure around 15 miles.
Asheville currently has about 4 1/2 miles of developed greenways.
“The five greenways currently in development will complete a network from downtown to the River Arts District, and through the Southside neighborhood and to the Beaucatcher Mountain,” says Mariate Echeverry, City of Asheville transportation planning manager. “Asheville has been focusing efforts in sustainable and smart growth, and there is an appetite in the community for active transportation. People want to live healthier lifestyles and contribute to the environment.”
Already available to residents are venues such as a French Broad River Greenway at Carrier Park as well as a smaller network along W.T. Weaver Boulevard at Glenn’s Creek Greenway that connects to Reed Creek Greenway along Broadway. Asheville officials have been advancing a Greenways Master Plan since 2009 so that citizens can be better connected to trails.
Echeverry adds that Asheville’s varied topography and natural features like river corridors and parks afford a variety of experiences for greenway users, and mountainside and forested corridors will eventually be added to the mix.
It’s French for Fun
A major transportation and recreational asset in Asheville is the French Broad River, and an organization called RiverLink was established in 1987 to spearhead the river’s economic and environmental revitalization. The organization has helped to develop that attraction by establishing many camping sites and attracting green businesses to settle along the waterway.
“Think of all the cities you have visited that are lucky enough to have a river. There is a special affinity that people have towards water,” says Karen Cragnolin, executive director of RiverLink. “Our river is ideal for boating or canoeing, and the shoreline is great for walking and biking. Plus the river offers a multitude of experiences from whitewater rapids to flat water rowing.”
Cragnolin says in the not-too-distant future, people will be able to connect on the French Broad River to the Appalachian Trail in Madison County, and to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail on the Swannanoa River.
“A multimodal transportation network is what residents want, and that’s what our city is working towards,” she says. “Asheville offers a high quality of life, and outdoor recreation is amazing here.”
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