The Blue Ridge Parkway is recognized as one of the most scenic routes within the continental US. A major destination for tandem cyclists the route is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its creation this year. This milestone and associated news (article) highlights the incredible change in use patterns that have impacted safety and access along the route.
With a posted speed limit of 45 mph, varied terrain, and sharp corners vehicle traffic is limited in speeds creating a safer environment for cycling. The roadway is an excellent test case for changes in user habits and advances in traffic flow design.
In the article linked above there was an interesting quote that is indicative of the old way of thinking regarding cyclists. Parkway historian and former spokesman Phil Noblitt is quoted as saying, “It’s not to say that bicyclists aren’t welcome… I also think some of the tension could be reduced or ameliorated if bicyclists would follow some basic rules of the road.”
This attitude, that cyclists are the primary cause of conflict, does not address the real problem of providing safe lanes of travel for bikes. The Blue Ridge Parkway by design was intended for motor vehicles creating a necessity for bikes to travel within the same lanes as motorized traffic. The simple difference in speeds can cause perception and image problems for cyclists. How this ends up getting resolved is yet to be seen but as long as cyclists keep a voice in the game the long term prospects are good.