Why Do I See So Many?
You may notice an abundance of first responders at each Cycle to Farm: fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars.
Even motorcycle EMTs with flashing red lights. All told, you will see at least 20 vehicles from 11 agencies across 62 miles of the route.
It isn’t because it is an unusually dangerous bike event, but because we’re trying to make it as safe as possible.
Holding A Safe Event
First of all, we can’t close any roads during Cycle to Farm – which means 300 of you need to co-exist on the road with all the usual vehicle traffic a rural countryside will experience on a beautiful Saturday in the summertime.
So one of our objectives is to visually communicate to all people driving vehicles that something different is going on today.
We hope that communicating that message inspires people driving vehicles to slow down, be extra aware, and watch for hazards… such as people on slower-moving bicycles.
We do this by asking fire departments, rescue squads and EMS ambulances to park in particularly congested locations along the route, with their emergency lights turned on.
Because they need remain available to respond to emergency calls, they may need to leave their post. You will often see a Cycle to Farm Volunteer Marshal in a high-viz vest at these same locations, and they’ll remain as long as needed (Thank You!).
Second, we patrol the route for trouble using sheriff’s deputies (blue lights) and firefighter/EMTs on motorcycles (red lights). This too provides a visual clue to people driving vehicles that something different is going on today.
We have also found that a police presence reduces the speed of people driving vehicles.
We use motorcycles so that the EMTs can ride in the same direction as the cyclists (they can pass a group of cyclists more safely than most people driving cars).
In the event of a collision or other emergency, having the motorcycle EMTs and sheriff’s deputies already on the road means that the response time to the emergency should be reduced.
Third, we plan ahead for trouble. The Cycle to Farm route travels through a wide area of Buncombe County (and a corner of Henderson County), and as a result we work with 11 different first responder agencies (see the list below).
All of these agencies are coordinated via a formal and written Safety Plan, which is developed months in advance. During Cycle to Farm, a Safety Director and his assistant are in constant contact with all of the responding units on the Buncombe County 911 radio system.
So while you are enjoying the Farm Stops, and riding through our beautiful countryside, there are many dedicated first responders supporting you by warning traffic, planning for months in advance for your safety, and ready to leap into action when you need help.
A smile, a wave, and a hearty shout-out “Thank You” as you ride by… means a great deal to these responders. They’re here for you, literally.
AGENCIES PARTICIPATING IN CYCLE TO FARM
Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office
North Carolina State Highway Patrol
Black Mountain Fire Department
About this blog entry: Jen Billstrom is the creator of Cycle to Farm®, a unique metric century (62 mile) group ride that uses local farms as rest stops. Farmers offer their product for sale, and Cycle to Farm volunteers transport purchases by the cyclists back to the Finish, where the community joins in a farm to table meal at the Fabulous After Party. The event promotes local farms and benefits the development of Greenways. This year the event is on Saturday, July 18 in Black Mountain. For more information, see CycleToFarm.org.