Small Town Alternative Transportation

Thinking Green

By John Coleman

By now most residents are aware of the burgeoning trail system that exists in the Fayetteville community. Scull Creek and Frisco Trails provide what is often referred to as the backbone of the system by advancing from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard all the way to Fayetteville’s “North End” near the new Malco Theatre. Mud Creek Trail travels east to west along a corridor just south of Joyce Boulevard. Together these trails provide the primary existing routes to go along with other sections scattered throughout the city.
What has been interesting to witness is the growing cadre of residents and businesses that are using the trail system since the completion of Scull Creek in October 2008.
One example is the Washington-Willow Townie Ride. Think “date-night on bikes” with about 30 people from the neighborhood. The group rode from Lafayette Street to Mellow Mushroom Pizza and had an absolute blast! A nice byproduct was eating a ridiculous amount of pizza and then losing some of those calories on the ride back. What caught me by surprise the most was the reaction of those in automobiles; smiling, waving, and honking every time we saw a car. People were so enamored with the sight of the Townie Ride that we’re hoping the idea will spread.
Edward Hejtmanek, a longtime Fayetteville resident, has another idea to boost transportation use through the trail system. On May 1, he opened Green Wheel — a new business selling electric bikes and retrofit kits. Edward has long been a bike commuter in Fayetteville, and has watched the electric bike technology closely.
I asked Edward about comparing electric bikes to conventional bikes that run on apples and oranges, or in my case pizza. It was clear that he had heard this before. In short, Edward said that walking clearly has the lowest carbon footprint because you don’t have to manufacture anything to walk. A conventional bike is next as long as people are using it consistently and not leaving it on the shelf just for the occasional ride. The electric bike bridges the gap for those who want to avoid a sweat on the way to work or have to deal with the local topography.
With the advent of the lithium iron phosphate (LITHPO4) battery, electric bikes just recently became a viable option. The LITHPO4 battery is three times lighter than the older lead acid batteries and lasts twice as long (five to seven years) while providing the same power. At around $1,200 the electric bicycle provides a low-cost, eco-friendly option for navigating Fayetteville’s hilly terrain and making use of the trails system. As Matt Mihalevich, the City’s trails coordinator said, “The electric bike expands the ridership market to those who may not be willing to pedal Fayetteville’s hills.”
So word about the trails system is expanding and residents are getting creative on how to maximize the use of this alternative transportation infrastructure; just two of the many examples of “weird going pro” here in Fayetteville.

Categories: Commentary