2020 in Review

Happy New Year!

The mission of Harmony Lanes is to create safe, inclusive multi-modal transportation opportunities. This year we added working on trails when the pandemic impacted town and state budgets. Here is what we did towards that in 2020:

  1. Our biggest success to date, the approval and adoption by the NCDOT of TheEast Boone Connector, a crucial multi-modal path serving the Bamboo Road area, is drawn in the plans for the NCDOT’s Bamboo Rd. widening project. We don’t have a firm start date on construction yet, but it will be 2-4 years until the path is complete. This project is an example of community advocacy creating the kinds of infrastructure we want. It was a grassroots effort to create a proposal, get community support behind it, get press about it, and get comments into the DOT, and we won. The DOT budget has been severely impacted by the pandemic. All planned projects are pretty much frozen. But it will be built.
  2. Harmony Lanes launched Cross Boone Connector idea through local presentations, map building, and developing an information hub on the website. This idea was unanimously endorsed by Boone Town Council, in May of 2020, which is a great start. There is still much work to be done to make it a reality. 
  3. Harmony Lanes’ ongoing project to add mountain bike trails behind Hardin Park School had a significant expansion. A $9,000 grant paid for a professional trail builder to create some really fun and flowy loops for the kids. This increased the length of trails by 4-5 times over what we had before. The coaches are expanding the mountain bike education program to use the new trail starting in spring. Stay tuned for more on this. 
  4. We contributed input to the NCDOT’s Great Trails State initiative. This is a bold and exciting plan to link and expand state trail and greenway networks which is very encouraging. Harmony Lanes’ proposed Cross Boone Connector is on their map, literally, as a crucial piece of this infrastructure. (The XBC would link the middle fork greenway end at the hospital to downtown Boone and main ASU campus as well as apartment complexes, neighborhoods, and shopping centers in the Blowing Rock Road corridor.)
  5. We have been working on identifying and applying for more grants-this involves tailoring a project to meet grant requirements as Hardin Park did for their trail grant. Stay tuned for more on this.
  6. Responding to our advocacy, the Town of Boone extended sidewalks from 421 up 194 towards Hardin Park School. They have an easement to extend them the rest of the way to the school, and the NCDOT has committed to building a $50,000 HAWK crosswalk at the school entrance. We should see more construction this spring.
  7. We helped with Boone Area Cyclists’ annual trash pickup around Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park. Board members also helped on trail expansions and re-routes at Rocky Knob. This is the crown jewel of Boone mountain biking, attracting people from several states away. A long term goal is to connect it to the East Boone Connector and the Boone Greenway at Brookshire Park through a trail or multi-modal path.
  8. We piloted our #paintthetownsafe project and learned a lot from it. The idea is to draw attention to bike and pedestrian corridors through very noticeable markings. We have an ongoing problem in Boone where even the expensive thermo markings used by the NCDOT degrade very quickly due to the heavy salt applications and plowing in winter. Look for an expansion on this in spring of 2021. We will be asking the Town of Boone, ASU, and NCDOT to help us get these better marked. We need a better system of doing it.

January 2019 

Harmony Lanes formed to amplify a group of Hardin Park Elementary parent’s voices related to the dangerous situation on 194 next to the school.  We started a petition that got over 500 signatures asking Boone town council to act immediately to resolve the problem.  We presented at a council meeting and as a resulte council has since started a plan to add in sidewalks on both sides of 194, and the NCDOT has committed to building a $50K HAWK crosswalk to connect them. 

We started a campaign to get a mountain bike trail built at Hardin Park with Kristian Jackson’s leadership and support from local businesses like Boone Bike, Cole’s Landscaping, Regear, parents Matt and Penny Bagley, and especially Blue Ridge Trail works who donated the construction of the trail.  It was built in March, and we will add on in the future.

February 2019

NCDOT announced Bamboo Rd./Wilson’s Ridge Project.  When we looked at the maps and the bike/ped situation on this dangerous section of road we proposed the East Boone Connector, a protected multi-modal path to serve the growing area, which is a very dangerous corridor for anyone not in a vehicle. This section of the county/town is booming over the next 10-20 years and there are many people who want a safe route through it to connect to the Middle Fork Greenway system.  After we developed a campaign and build community, business, and non-profit support, the NCDOT reacted to the comments submitted by adding in engineering to their plan for the East Boone Connector to be built, if the town and Watauga County choose to.  Thank you NCDOT!

March 2019

First loop of Hardin Park Elementary mountain bike trail built by Blue Ridge Trail Works.  We and local business leaders presented the East Boone Connector proposal to the Watauga County Commissioners at their meeting.  https://www.wataugademocrat.com/news/civic-business-leaders-push-for-sidewalks-bike-paths-in-boone

April 2019

Harmony Lanes joined BikeWalkNC as a member organization and attended Lobby Day in Raleigh, meeting our Rep. Ray Russell and Sen. Deanna Ballard to ask for more state funding for safe sidewalks, bike lanes, and other improvements in our area.  Both are supportive. 

May 2019

Dave recruited 6 other board members who also share a passion for improving bike and pedestrian infrastructure in Boone.  The board came together in May and went through missioning and visioning exercises with ASU’s Transportation Insight Center for Entrepreneurship, facilitated by director Erich Schlenker and non-profit specialist Sara Figlow.  These exercises created our mission:  Create safe, inclusive, multi-modal transportation opportunities. We put together a first annual social and celebration for National Bike to Work Day at Lost Province. 

July 2019

We put together a moving multi-modal path entry for the 4th of July parade and had a blast spreading the word about what we are asking for in Boone.  (Thanks to Jen’s great idea!)

August 2019

Harmony Lanes received word that due to our advocacy and coalition-building the NCDOT modified their plan for the Bamboo/Wilson’s Ridge project to include the East Boone Connector from NC 421 to Wilson’s Ridge Rd., a huge win!

January 2020

Town of Boone Council unanimously supports revising/updating the Bike/Ped Plan and the Cross Boone Connector (XBC) development.