A newly-installed bicycle fix-it station has made its debut at Carrier Park, a central location for Asheville’s bicycle community. The station, located near the bridge that crosses the park’s popular “Mellowdrome” track, provides tools, a repair stand and bike pump that cyclists can use to fix a flat or make adjustments.
Rachel Reeser of Asheville on Bikes stops by the new bike repair station at Carrier Park.
“This location just made perfect sense,” says Barb Mee, says city Transportation Planner Barb Mee. “Between the park, the greenway, the track and people commuting along that route, this is an area where you see a lot of people riding bicycles.”
The station is the second such tool kit in the City of Asheville. The first was installed at the Clingman Avenue roundabout last year. That stretch of road is a major commuter corridor for bicyclists, and, as Mee puts it “That’s a long walk uphill if you have to carry a bike.”
Each station includes a hex key set, several different sizes of wrench, flat and Phillips head screwdrivers and a tire lever. The station is designed so that riders can mount their bike on the stand before performing repairs.
The fix-it stations are part of the City of Asheville’s commitment to supporting multi-modal transportation options and collaborating with the community. Multi-modal transportation is a strategic goal of Asheville City Council and, alongside pedestrian and transit opportunities, bicycle amenities are an important part of supporting that goal.
To receive more information about the City of Asheville’s bicycle initiatives, contact email@example.com.
From the City of Asheville’s YouTube channel: Officers with the Asheville Police Department’s Traffic Safety Unit talk about Crash Reduction Areas, an effort that focuses attention on areas with high rates of vehicle accidents. New Leicester Highway, Fairview Road and Patton Avenue all rose to the top of the list in the last year based on accident numbers. As with any street or corridor, it is important in these zones to be aware of other drivers and pedestrians, maintain a safe distance and speed limit, and yield the right of way for other motorists. Click below to play the video.
The balloons provide aerial pictures of the cemetery grounds, which can then be matched with cemetery records and on-the-ground surveying of markers and landmarks. Together, all of this information provides an accurate survey of the grounds, which is being plugged into an interactive GIS map. Riverside Cemetery is managed by the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department and, alongside good stewardship, the mapping allows the city to know how many and where plots are available for sale on the grounds.
Recently, a class of third graders from Isaac Dickson Elementary School visited Riverside Cemetery to see how the balloons work and learn about mapping. The students got to see how pocket cameras were rigged with harnesses made from string and repurposed two-liter soda bottles so that they would remain pointed down and resist spinning, and even got a chance to “pilot” the balloons by holding the lines.
Working with Adam Griffith, a research scientist with Western Carolina University and the nonprofit group The Public Laboratory, the team launched two weather balloons, spooling out 1,000 feet of line to keep them from floating into near-space altitudes (where differences in pressure would cause them to pop). Each balloon carried a pocket digital camera set to take pictures every four seconds. Using this relatively inexpensive technique, the team captures photos within a 1/10-mile radius.
GIS Analyst Scott Barnwell says the technique could be used for other areas around the city as well as to fill in information gaps. Aerial images are taken regularly by the N.C. Geographic Information Coordinating Council (NCGICC) but the latest information is from 2010, and another fly-over isn’t planned until 2015. The balloons can provide images of changes and new construction in the ensuing five years, Barnwell says. And the images taken from the balloons show higher detail than existing satellite imagery.
As for the Riverside Cemetery survey, work mapping the graves is nearing an end. “We’re about 95 percent there,” Barnwell says. “We’re just working on that last five percent now.”
The City of Asheville is excited to announce the launch of the Asheville App, an easy-to-use online tool that allows users to notify the city about issues like water line leaks, potholes, or illegal dumping that need the city’s attention via smart phone or computer, then track the results.
“This is the kind of technology that really enhances connectivity in the city,” says Project Manager Eric LaRue. “We are always exploring ways to make it easy and efficient for people to interact with city government.”
Here’s how it works: Asheville App users who spot a problem submit a service request at www.ashevillenc.gov/ashevilleapp or on their smart phone using the downloadable app. Users can submit their location and even a picture of the problem spot. The Asheville App then sends the service request to the relevant city department personnel so they can quickly resolve the issue. A tracking tool allows users to monitor progress on the repair, and City employees can even communicate directly with users if they need further information. The app notifies the resident when the repair request has been completed.
The City of Asheville strives to provide excellent service in a timely and efficient manner, and the Asheville App will play an important role in fulfilling that goal.
“The ease of use of the Asheville App will not only give people more ways to relay information to us, it will also streamline our ability to respond to customer service needs,” says Customer Services Division Superintendent Florie Presnell.
The City of Asheville enlisted the services of PublicStuff (www.publicstuff.com), an innovative CRM software company, to create the app and digital communications solution. “We are excited to add Asheville to the PublicStuff family” Founder and CEO of PublicStuff Lily Liu said. “Asheville is a city with a rich cultural heritage and PublicStuff aims to work to provide an easy way for residents to stay in touch with their local government.”
***NOTE*** This event was rescheduled from an earlier date. Updated registration information can be found at the bottom of the announcement.
The City of Asheville is looking for applicants to participate in this year’s Volunteer Handicapped Parking Enforcement Program. Each year, the City of Asheville Police Department trains volunteers how to write citations and warnings to drivers who park illegally in handicapped spaces. The program has been a great success for the city over the years in both educating and enforcing handicapped parking space laws.
Out of 955 handicapped parking citations written in 2012, 790 of those were written by volunteers who had gone through the class.
“These volunteers do a great job out in the community by being an extra set of eyes,” says Parking Enforcement Supervisor Adam March. “The results are truly noteworthy.”
The volunteers, many of whom utilize handicapped spaces themselves, are in a unique position to spot violations. Often, these are cases where handicapped placards are not displayed, placards are expired, or where drivers have parked in the striped zones around handicapped spaces. Many drivers aren’t aware that those striped zones are there to give people with wheelchairs or other mobility assistance room to exit or return to their cars says APD Officer Allen Dunlap, who runs the training class.
“That’s the whole point,” Dunlap says. “We want the volunteers out in the community to educate drivers. We always get a great group of people.”
Volunteers who go through the class are empowered to write handicapped parking citations only, and only within the City of Asheville limits and outside the Central Business District. Participants are given a background check and signed off on by the City Manager. Volunteers who have participated in previous years and who want to continue in the program must re-attend the class.
To apply for the Volunteer Handicapped Parking Enforcement Program, contact the City of Asheville Parking Services at (828) 259-5759 or stop by 45 Wall Street to pick up an application. ***UPDATE*** A training class will be held Sat. April 20, 2013 and lunch will be provided. The deadline for applications is Monday, April 15.
The City of Asheville Customer Service Division receives thousands of calls in a month. It’s not unusual for a customer service representative to field 100 calls in a day. Though Customer Services is part of the Water Resources Department and primarily handles water billing questions and payments, the division fields calls about everything from potholes to streetlights to bus service.
Customer Service Representative Linette Sieben was named Water Resources Employee of the Year
“We assist with calls all day long and try to help everybody that calls in,” says Customer Service Representative Linette Sieben.
So when Sieben got a call last September from a woman who was having trouble breathing, she began to suspect that something was wrong. “I asked her if she had been running to the phone and she said ‘No’ and that she didn’t know why she was out of breath,” Sieben says.
The woman had called to pay her water bill, but as the conversation progressed, her breathing grew more labored and eventually, she no longer responded to Sieben’s questions.
Sieben called the police. Since she had the woman’s address on her water account, police were able to respond and likely prevented a tragedy. Police found her unresponsive and she was transported to the hospital. When the woman called back in a few days, she told another customer service representative that Sieben’s quick action saved her life.
In February, Sieben was named Water Resources Employee of the Year and presented with a plaque in appreciation of her initiative.
“We are very proud of the attitude and service delivery of all of our Customer Service staff,” says Water Services Director Steve Shoaf. “Linette’s intervention exemplifies the level of service we all strive to achieve. She is deserving of this special recognition.”
The City of Asheville’s Customer Service Division assists with billing questions at (828) 251-1122. Service representatives are available via telephone from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 8:15 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Fridays except on holidays. The City of Asheville offers email billing for water customers. Sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Asheville Redefines Transit continues to employ strategies that improve the ridership experience, and that goes for the City of Asheville’s non-English speaking population as well.
In response to the growth of Spanish-speaking and Eastern European populations in Asheville, as indicated by census data, Ride the ART offers multi-lingual services at the downtown ART Station, 49 Coxe Ave. An over-the-phone translation service allows dispatchers to engage with riders in a conference-call style conversation so that non-English speakers can get the information they need to get the most out of the bus system.
Dispatcher Vickie Webb and bus driver Ion Gherasim try out the translation service at the ART Station.
Additionally, the city’s transit website www.ridetheart.com directs users in English, Spanish and Russian to online mapping that assists with planning routes and schedules. Posters in all three languages for the buses and ART Station are currently in the works.
These steps keep Asheville in compliance with federal Title VI Civil Rights Act requirements that city services accommodate the needs of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) groups that have crossed a specific population threshold.
“We are always looking at opportunities to provide better service to these populations,” said Transportation Services Manager Mariate Echeverry.
Although Spanish and Russian (used as a common language across Eastern European populations) are the two most-commonly spoken non-English languages in Asheville, the phone system has the added advantage of making almost any language available to help riders get where they need to go. The City of Asheville contracts with an outside company for the service and pays only on an as-used basis.
The City of Asheville’s Public Works Department hosted a visiting class of pre-kindergarten students from Carolina Day School at its South Charlotte Street Facility Feb. 15, showing the children and some parents around the big trucks and equipment the department uses.
Teacher Cathy Walters says that the field trip is part of the school’s curriculum focusing on the seasons of the year, and the children get to learn about how Public Works crews salt and plow the streets during winter weather storms. “They’ve been very excited,” she said.
The visit is an annual tradition, and the department has been hosting the groups for some time.
“We’ve been doing this for years,” says Streets and Engineering Manager Greg Shuler. “The kids really love this stuff.”
The tour isn’t limited to snow and ice removal. The children get to learn about equipment that keeps the city’s storm drains clear, the trucks that pick up trash every week, and see the tall bucket truck city arborist Mark Foster uses to trim trees.
The Public Works Department takes on projects throughout the City of Asheville such as sidewalk construction and roadway improvements, maintains the city’s fleet of vehicles and operates stormwater and sanitation services.
But Walters says the big finale is the gigantic pile of salt and sand Public Works keeps on hand in the shed for winter weather. It’s such a big deal, the Carolina Day School children even sang a song written just for the occasion, which ends in a refrain about the Public Works crews who drive salt-spreading trucks when snow and ice threaten roads:
“Salt and sand go out and get spread about
City workers spring into action
Salt melts the snow and helps us go
By giving wheels some traction.”
The City of Asheville Public Works Department is pleased to accommodate schools and groups interested in visiting its facility. Anyone who would like to arrange a field trip can contact Greg Shuler at (828) 271-6146 or email@example.com.
The President’s choice for Asheville as his first stop following Tuesday’s State of the Union Address highlights an exciting success story in the city and region’s job growth and economic development efforts.
Linamar’s 2011 announcement that it would locate its manufacturing facility in Asheville, and the swift news of its expansion in 2012, means a collective 650 new jobs and a revival of the manufacturing industry that has historically been the backbone of the region.
Job growth and economic development are among the city’s top strategic goals. The City of Asheville’s investments into its infrastructure focus an eye on keeping Asheville a good place to do business and supporting a skilled workforce.
“Our goal is to create an environment that builds on the quality of life Asheville offers and encourages companies to come here, stay here and expand here,” said Lauren Bradley, the city’s Finance and Management Services Director.
Having a strong pool of skilled workers in the area is also crucial to attracting business to Asheville, and the educational opportunities provided by local community colleges ensure that we have an exceptional workforce. Keeping them here is just as important. Asheville’s dedication to quality of life is reflected in strategies like affordable housing and in its complete streets policy, which shows its commitment to multi-modal transportation options.
That commitment was integral in attracting businesses like New Belgium Brewing, which is bringing $175 million in capital improvements and more than 175 jobs by building its east coast facility here.
Economic development collaborations have resulted in recent success stories like the construction of the Aloft Hotel and a new city-owned parking deck, the expansion of Thermo Fischer Scientific Inc.’s operations within the City which brought with it 110 jobs, and the development of Biltmore Park Town Square, a 42-acre mixed-use development of office, retail and residential space.
The yellow parking meter stickers are going up all over town as the City of Asheville expands pay-by-phone parking to all of its 750 meters in the downtown central business district.
The service allows drivers to pay for up to two hours of on-street parking using a credit or debit card number and their cell phone. The move enhances the accessibility of on-street short-term parking by extending it to people who are not carrying change. In September, the City of Asheville’s Parking Services Division launched a three-month test phase involving 104 parking meters, and the success of that phase has led to an expanded trial run throughout all of the City of Asheville’s meters.
“It was pretty popular right from the beginning!” said the City’s Transportation Director Ken Putnam. “One of the things we heard right off the bat was that people wanted to see the pay-by-phone feature on more spaces downtown.”
The expansion is part of a larger trial run and will last for a year. Last year’s initial test revealed a revenue increase of about three percent, Putnam said. Data from both trials will be used when making a recommendation about whether or not to make pay-by-phone a permanent part of Asheville’s parking offerings.
The yellow stickers and signs throughout the downtown central business district provide information about how to set up an account. Once an account is established, parking customers can simply pay for metered spaces on their phone by entering a zone and meter number and the amount of time needed. Customers can also request a text message alerting them that their meter is about to expire.
A fee of 25 cents will apply for each pay-by-phone transaction, which offsets the cost of the service. All parking meters will still take coins.
Click here for more information about the City of Asheville parking services.