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Sanders is there when bicycling is on agenda

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In addition to yellow sticky notes, Sharpies and consultants from out of town, one more thing you can count on at a greenway planning drop-in is that Joe Sanders will be there.
A retired electrical engineer, Sanders listens, engages and encourages people as they talk about their dreams and their concerns when it comes to public bicycle and pedestrian paths.
Sanders, 65, rides almost every day, with his wife, Peggy.
“Some people would call me obsessive about it,” Sanders say. Noting that one chunk of it was a long organized ride in Vermont, Sanders estimates he and Peggy rode 4,000 miles last year. His other avocation is thinking about and talking about greenways and trying to forge consensus on how to move forward. If anyone is the unofficial conductor of a disparate and sometimes out-of-tune orchestra, it’s Sanders. A past president and current vice president of the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club, Sanders serves on the steering committees for the Hendersonville, Laurel Park and Flat Rock bike-ped studies. He’s in the stakeholders group for the N.C. 280 greenway corridor study. He serves on the board of the Friends of Ecusta Trail and chairs the Friends of the Oklawaha Trail.
Ken Shelton, a radiologist who has been a leading advocate of public bike paths, says Sanders is able to see how many moving parts could work together.
“Joe Sanders had a vision that we all need to sit around the same table because we all have different interests but they’re similar and we need to get them all together,” Shelton says.
A serious road biker since 1999, Sanders traces his love of the two-wheeler to his Newsboy Special.
“I used to use a bike to deliver the Detroit News,” he says. “I was one of eight kids so if I wanted to go someplace most of the time I had to use the bike to get there.”
When he speaks to crowds, “I always ask, ‘How many of you rode a bike as a kid?’ Ninety percent of the hands go up. ‘How many of you ride now?’ Ten percent of hands go up. Because they don’t feel safe. That’s the number one reason” adults don’t ride.
As an experienced rider, Sanders knows he can bicycle on any number of lightly traveled routes around the county. Although he says he would definitely use new greenways, he doesn’t really need them to pursue his passion for pedaling. So why devote so much time and energy as the community’s most passionate evangelist for public greenways?
“It’s a way to not only improve our community but help people see that there are other ways to improve their health, their benefit, and in the long run it helps us all,” he says. “For every dollar you spend on these types of projects you reap $3 in medical cost saving benefits, and that’s from an NCDOT study.
“Peggy and I derive joy when we get people out on the greenway and get them exercising and then they get it. I know of people that were overweight, either diabetic or pre-diabetic, on six, seven, eight medications that are now off all of their medications. Bicycling is just a natural.”