AoB Pledge of Support for Changes to our Streets

Whereas, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 viral global pandemic and the virus is highly contagious, altering our ability to safely use indoor spaces or safely gather in groups,

Whereas, many local businesses are struggling to stay in business and re-open in a way that is safe for their customers while serving an adequate number of people, as in the past,

Whereas, people who walk or ride a bicycle are able to maintain proper social distance while gaining the health benefits of exercise,

Whereas, walking and biking have a positive effect on personal health, especially immune system, lung and cardiovascular health,

Whereas, expert recommendations for responding to the pandemic include changes to our streets that allow for more biking and walking and commerce in the public right of way,

Whereas, 287+ other cities have already made temporary changes that dedicate space within the existing right of way for increased walking, biking, and commerce; including our neighbor cities Charlotte, Brevard, and Hendersonville,

The City of Asheville should coordinate with Buncombe County, NCDOT and community organizations so that:

1. A network of neighborhood streets are designated as “Play Streets” or “Slow Streets” where the speed limit is lowered to the slowest possible number and through traffic is prohibited. Residents are allowed to place signage in the right of way as a traffic calming measure in order to maximize pedestrian usages. Traffic calming will not impede emergency vehicle access into and through calmed streets. This slow streets network should include streets that connect to downtown Asheville and other areas with many commercial businesses. This network should be officially designated by the City of Asheville and include streets in all parts of the City to ensure equal access for all.

2. One or more pilot “Commerce zones” or “Pedestrian Priority Zones” are created in commercial areas of our City to support the re-opening of businesses while allowing for appropriate physical distancing in the right of way. These temporary interventions include but aren’t limited to reducing travel lane widths, removing some on street parking, deploying temporary signage and making other adjustments within the right of way, using temporary materials, to create space for people to move about while keeping an appropriate social distance from each other.

3. Volunteer groups, local nonprofit organizations, and businesses are given the opportunity to assist the City, County, and State with the quick implementation of both the network of Slow Streets and with implementation of Commerce Zones. Instead of creating rounds of public feedback and lamenting the lack of funds, we want you to tell us what you need and let the community to help with implementation.

I, the undersigned, adopt this pledge and authorize Asheville on Bikes to communicate my pledge to the City of Asheville and other governing authorities, as needed.
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