Proposed Tryon/Columbus bike plan meets opposition

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Nearly two dozen residents attend public hearing

COLUMBUS — Local residents who attended a bicycle and pedestrian plan workshop on Monday make it clear they do not want bicycle lanes between Tryon and Columbus.

The workshop drew about 20 residents, who spoke with officials from planning and design engineering consultants Kimley-Horn, the North Carolina Department of Transportation and Isothermal Planning and Development Commission about what they want for future bicycle lanes and sidewalks in Columbus and Tryon.

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Residents mainly spoke of the NCDOT’s current project to widen Highway 108 between Columbus and Tryon, and said they oppose the addition of bicycle lanes to the roadway.

Residents said they think the NCDOT’s count of 9,000 cars traveling along Highway 108 per day are not accurate. Others said some bicyclists do not share the road, as they sometimes line up together, preventing cars from  passing them.

IPDC Senior Planner/Rural Planning Organization Director Karyl Fuller said the two plans are completely separate. If people do not want bike lanes along Highway 108, this plan will not include them, Fuller said.

“If, in the future, they don’t want bike lanes, that’s up to the steering committee and the public to tell us that, and we won’t include it in the plan,” Fuller said.

Fuller said this plan is to make Columbus and Tryon more traversable by foot and on bike. If that is not what the public wants,  however, they should tell officials through surveys and meetings.

“The plan has to be adopted by Columbus and Tryon, and if they don’t want it, it isn’t going to happen,” Fuller said.

Columbus and Tryon received a $40,000 grant last year from the NCDOT to create a bicycle and pedestrian plan, with the Polk County Community Foundation providing a 10 percent match.

The grant will pay for the creation of a bike and pedestrian plan for the towns, which will give the communities a better chance of receiving funding to implement such paths.

Allison Fluitt, with Kimley-Horn, said there will be more public input meetings. as well as an online survey soon for residents to give feedback.

Once the plan is created, residents will have an opportunity to see the draft and suggest changes. The town councils of Tryon and Columbus will then have to approve the design.