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Asheville Makes Itself Easily Accessible

It’s easy to be on the move in Asheville, and improvements are coming.

By Kevin Litwin on September 20, 2021

Car surrounded by fall foliage drives through Asheville

One of Asheville’s top assets is its ease of transportation. No matter if you are looking to walk to a restaurant or boutique, catch a ride to work or travel outside the state, Asheville makes any movement simple.

Take walking, for example. Asheville boasts a Walk Score of 88, meaning it is very walkable and most errands can be accomplished on foot. Plus, residents are able to add a few extra steps to their day when they stroll along the area’s greenways. Relocatee Susan Jackewicz lived and worked in Boston for several years and enjoyed a “walkable lifestyle.”

When COVID-19 hit, however, she wanted to be closer to her family in Atlanta but didn’t want to reside in a big city. Her brother-in-law suggested Asheville, which she had visited years ago, and the rest is history.

“I remember the city having mountains and great food, so I did some online research and moved here in late 2020 during the middle of the pandemic,” she says. “I didn’t know at first if I would stay in Asheville, but this is my home now. I live happily downtown and without a car.”

Jackewicz works remotely as a management consultant from her downtown apartment.

“I walk everywhere – to the grocery store, medical appointments, wonderful restaurants and the River Arts District, and the city keeps its sidewalks in very good repair,” she says. “I also enjoy walking at Pack Square Park, Pritchard Park and Owens-Bell Park.”

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Asheville / Jeff Adkins

Cycle Time

As for those who prefer to be on two wheels over two feet when it comes to getting around, Asheville comes in with a win once more. Residents and visitors alike can take advantage of The Flying Bike, a business that offers electric bike tours and rentals.

The bikes are equipped with a modestly sized electric motor in the rear wheel, so as a person pedals, the motor provides a helpful push. As a result, guided tours of 2.5 to 3 hours are a fun and easy way to explore the region.

“We get customers who are looking for a way to get around Asheville on bikes, but Asheville has many hills, valleys and mountainous terrain, so it can be difficult to pedal a bike – the hills always win out,” says Ritchie Rozzelle, marketing director and co-owner of The Flying Bike. “We introduce customers to electric bikes, often for the first time. It’s easy to get on and off the bike, and they’re great for people who are older and have limited mobility.”

In fact, company officials say a large percentage of its clientele are people ages 55 and older.

“We’ve had many retirees who visit Asheville thinking about moving here, then they try our bikes and tour the area, and many have decided to permanently move to Asheville because of their bike tour trip,” he says. “It’s effortless and safe to pedal the bike, plus they see our amazing scenery while we inform them about Asheville history. It’s great.”

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Distance Days

When longer trips are required, motorists have easy access to Interstates 26, 40 and 240 as well as U.S. Highways 19/23, 25, 25A, 70 and 74. The convenience and beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway is also a plus.

Additionally, Asheville Rides Transit provides bus services throughout Asheville, while Gray Line Trolley Tours has daytime excursions to must-stop Asheville locations, such as Biltmore Village, the downtown shopping/restaurant district and the River Arts District, to name a few. And if folks need to travel by air, Asheville Regional Airport offers 60+ daily flights and serves more than 1 million passengers per year.

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In the Future

To ensure the area remains transportation-friendly, an organization called the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) focuses solely on transportation advancements. It is a partnership between local and state governments.

“We receive about $4.5 million per year in federal transportation funds, and we provide that funding to our member governments in a competitive process, granting those funds primarily to projects related to biking and walking,” says Tristan Winkler, director of the organization. “Over the next five years, this French Broad River MPO region has more than $60 million earmarked toward programs, and about $57 million is specifically targeted toward biking and pedestrian projects to make Greater Asheville even safer for those who walk and bike.”

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