Western North Carolina is renowned as an outdoor adventure mecca, with visitors and residents alike immersing in the many invigorating activities it has to offer. With Asheville and the surrounding region enveloped in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s no surprise that mountain and road biking are popular activities, but what may be surprising is that many would-be cyclists can’t participate because they don’t own cars or bike racks to get to trails.
Enter Asheville Unpaved, a partnership led by Asheville on Bikes, Pisgah Area SORBA, and Connect Buncombe. Asheville Unpaved Alliance aims to create networks of natural surface paths in undeveloped forested pockets of the city, giving Asheville residents the ability to connect to trail systems via neighborhood streets, without the need for a car, something the nonprofit calls “front door access.” As a longtime supporter of Asheville on Bikes, Mosaic Realty is proud to partner on its many community initiatives, including Asheville Unpaved.
Asheville Unpaved promotes equitable trail access around Asheville
In 2022, Asheville Unpaved identified three initial projects: Bacoate Branch (adjacent to the River Arts District and South Slope), French Broad River West, and Azalea Park in East Asheville. The goal of the initiative is to provide users access to these trail systems via greenways, sidewalks, bike lanes and public transit. To that end, Asheville’s City Council in 2023 unanimously adopted the Close the Gap Plan, which identifies natural surface trails as a strategy to improve Asheville’s transportation network. Complete streets, transit and city parking will all support access into these trails.
There are many benefits to Asheville Unpaved’s planned natural surface paths. Not only will they allow for “front door” access, but they will also aim for equitable development, with trails planned in Asheville’s natural lands and parks, campuses and urban areas. The trails will benefit neighbors who have little access to the popular trail opportunities available along Asheville’s outskirts, including urban school children who can’t easily get to trails, residents with disabilities who use adaptive equipment to ride trails, and those who live in neighborhoods that may be unsafe for pedestrians.
Preserving the environment, saving money
Asheville Unpaved’s natural surface paths also promise minimal economic and environmental impact. Creating natural surface trails comes at a fraction of the cost of building greenways. In addition, natural trails connect the community without creating the climate footprint that paved trails do. Asheville Unpaved trails will be sustainably and mindfully designed.
For more information on Asheville Unpaved’s planned trail network, and to learn of ways you can support the initiative, visit https://ashevilleonbikes.com/asheville-unpaved.
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