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Western North Carolina The Mountain Region including Asheville
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Old 08-31-2013, 10:11 AM
 
75 posts, read 180,464 times
Reputation: 37

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I have been to Asheville a couple of times and loved the beautiful scenery, nice people and funky vibe, but I had a hard time finding an area where I could live without a car. I have a car, but prefer to walk and bike to the grocery store, library, shops, etc.

Montford and Five Points seemed like areas close enough to various amenities to allow me to rely primarily upon shoe leather and 2 wheels to get around and run errands. Can anyone confirm or refute that opinion? Please tell me about your personal experiences living in areas of Asheville that you consider walkable and bikable.

I really like Asheville and would like to move there, but only if I can live a lifestyle that fits me. I want to walk and bike everywhere. Asheville is bigger than Five Points and Montford, but I do not have the experience of ever having lived in Asheville for any length of time to fully understand every part of the city. Any input from residents, or former residents is greatly appreciated.

Thanks and regards.
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Old 09-04-2013, 01:25 PM
 
78 posts, read 93,245 times
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It’s hard to provide a definitive answer without knowing your living situation. Many neighborhoods are self-contained and walkable, but if work is [x] distance away, you may still have to rely on your car everyday.

All that said....

I’ve been living downtown for a year, and in a typical week I use my car just once, to get groceries. (If I food-shopped exclusively at the French Broad Food Co-Op, which is downtown, I might even use it less. The Co-Op is well-priced and excellent, but doesn’t carry a lot of non-food incidentals you typically get at the supermarket.) Though, my commute to work can be measured in blocks, so I have an atypically convenient setup, I think. I do also bike a lot, for errands and for fun. I could bike to the larger grocery store, in North Asheville–it’s off one of my casual ride routes–but the hills here make even just a few miles an intense excursion.

It depends, of course, on your commute, but if you work downtown Montford and Five Points/Chestnut Hills are definitely close enough to be walkable/bikable. And, in the case of Five Points/Chestnut Hills, you’re right by Merrimon Avenue, which has many more stores that are useful for locals–hardware, pharmacy, etc.–than downtown.

West Asheville–the young and hip area of the city–is definitely walkable, and has a nice community feel. It’s quickly becoming more and more developed, for better or for worse, which means more and more restaurants and bars, and less of those practical locals places. It’s about 2 1/2 miles from downtown, so you may be able to bike commute from there if you work downtown, but you’ll have to bypass two pretty monster hills (one down, one up) each way. Likewise the River Arts District, the art studio-heavy stretch between West Asheville and downtown (only one hill though!).

Further afield, Biltmore Village (just south of downtown, near the estate and Mission Hospital) and Biltmore Park (in Arden, about a 15 minute drive south of downtown) are self-contained and walkable to a number of restaurants and stores. They tend to attract older folks and retirees, so nightlife options outside of a basic bar are limited, however. Each was “planned,” but as those things go work pretty well, in my opinion.

Probably unsurprisingly, all of these neighborhoods are some of the most expensive ones in town.

I’ve only taken it once, but the bus system is pretty good. For a city of our size its coverage is fairly extensive, and its semi-frequent during weekday business hours (outside of these, however, service is spotty or nonexistent).
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Old 09-06-2013, 11:40 AM
 
Location: West Lenoir
172 posts, read 266,136 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thitzler View Post
I really like Asheville and would like to move there, but only if I can live a lifestyle that fits me. I want to walk and bike everywhere. Asheville is bigger than Five Points and Montford, but I do not have the experience of ever having lived in Asheville for any length of time to fully understand every part of the city. Any input from residents, or former residents is greatly appreciated.
Hey - I have been looking around also and find that there could definitely be better connections other than "bike friendly streets". Many of those roads are not so bike friendly after all, and with the geological boundaries dividing the city into directional subsections, one might be 'cut off' from other areas without either taking the long way around or risking narrow sidewalks with telephone poles down the center.

While there are some nice trails along the river for example, that is not going to get you to the places you need to go most of the time. I would be very careful in choosing a place with what you need nearby and accessible while going car-less. Then go there and walk it a few times over to be sure, looking for short-cuts or alternative routes.
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Old 09-06-2013, 01:44 PM
 
75 posts, read 180,464 times
Reputation: 37
Thanks for the feedback guys. I do appreciate your comments.
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Old 09-08-2013, 07:51 PM
 
Location: Asheville
9 posts, read 11,442 times
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Thitzler- Where are you currently living? I ask because as a commuter bicyclist it can be pretty frustrating bicycling here. Due to the layout of the city streets and the hills, there are not that many bicyclists on the road (compared to when I lived in Austin and Philadelphia) and thus motorists are not as aware of cyclists. Downtown and West Asheville are the most bicycle friendly places followed by North Asheville. South Asheville is a bit harder and most of East Asheville is too cutoff from the rest of Asheville and more dangerous of a commute. Depending on where you live the later two are still doable, but I might find myself on sidewalks at night as even riding down Hendersonville Rd/ Biltmore Rd (South Asheville) and Tunnel Rd (East Asheville) during the day is scary. Also, I am personally used to a grid street system and as Asheville is not based on such, you will quickly realize that you can not rely on taking shortcuts as easily as you would hope, as roads twist and turn and more times than not do not connect to roads that you might think they would.

To give you an example of bicycle culture here, in Philadelphia I would feel ok not using a bicycle light (front and bike) even though that is not an intelligent thing to do anywhere. But in Asheville, I wouldn't even consider riding at night without both and making sure I have very bright ones at that. I am not trying to scare you, but keep in mind it is just different than other cities I have lived in. I would say the city layout is what is most prohibitive to people riding more. People will also mention the hills, but that doesn't seam to stop Seattle and San Francisco cyclists from riding in their respective cities.

This all being said, I do love Asheville, which makes the whole matter even more frustrating.
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Old 09-10-2013, 11:43 AM
 
1,378 posts, read 3,688,246 times
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Just watch out for the angry yokels in their pickup trucks who will run you over given the chance.
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