Winter weather and icy roads may have pulled the rug out from under your usual riding habits (though this definitely isn't true for some of you!), but you can still make a big difference in creating better bicycling for Georgia.
Below are four quick and simple steps you can take right now to help advance our mission of promoting bicycling and improving bicycling conditions throughout the state:
Wasn't that easy?
Thanks for taking a few minutes to support a bike friendly Georgia!
With snow and ice finally melting and abandoned motor vehicles carefully being retrieved from medians and ditches, metro Atlanta is wearily getting back to its normal routine of more-or-less predictable traffic congestion.
Much has already been - and will be - written about the Atlanta Snowstorm of '14. The major media outlets in Atlanta are conducting online polls to see who is most to blame for the debacle. Your typical choices: Governor Deal, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, the National Weather Service, or "the media."
Conspicuously absent from most local analysis is any discussion of what the southern snow-mageddon really uncovered, a dangerous scarcity of transportation choices and inefficient urban land use.
What happened in Atlanta this week didn't have to happen. It wasn't just the result of unusual winter weather or poor decision-making by a few individuals. Those factors were the matches. The gasoline-soaked rag was our mono-modal transportation system. Rebecca Burns, journalism professor and deputy editor of Atlanta Magazine, wrote about the storm for Politico, insightfully observing that "this snowstorm underscores the horrible history of suburban sprawl in the United States and the bad political decisions that drive it."
"The problem," she continues, "was not one of Southerners’ inability to drive on icy roads, but of too many cars headed for congested highways."
The MARTA Rocks! blog adds:
"By rejecting alternative modes of transportation and the improvement of our built environment and planning, this was the bed we made... I have a car, but fortunately chose not to use it. So my second option was a bus. And when that didn’t work I was in close enough proximity to my home with quality sidewalks and safe streets that allowed me to make the trek ...I wasn’t going to be abandoned, stuck, [or] stranded...I had options."
A widely circulated (and fun to watch) video from the storm documents the trans-city bike commute of one Atlantan. Passing lines of cars and easily negotiating snarled, icy intersections, the video hints at the possibilities for a more balanced, reliable transportation system that includes facilities for all modes, including walking and biking. We're not naively suggesting that everyone start bike commuting, but our urban/suburban roadway design and land use all but deny the possibility of safely commuting by foot or by bike in many parts of metro Atlanta. Statewide, interest in walking and biking is high, but the vast majority of Georgians simply do not feel safe on roads built with only fast-moving cars and trucks in mind.
We helped GDOT adopt a "Complete Streets" policy in 2012, which is a good start, but it will only create meaningfully safer streets and roads if it is aggressively implemented and complemented with similar local policies. In time, and with leadership from the highest levels, Georgians will begin to see better accommodations for safe cycling and walking.
For most people impacted by the storm, however, there are currently no such options. They live in the sprawling suburbs and exurbs of Atlanta, and the only means of transportation available to them is a motor vehicle, operated on crowded, multi-lane interstates. This absolute dependence on automobiles is more than just bad for our air quality and public health. It's dangerously inefficient and prone to chaotic dysfunction, even in normal conditions. As demonstrated in cities that proactively build safe bike and pedestrian networks, if options exist, more people will use them, both on a regular basis and in crisis situations.
We agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Burns when she concludes, that "whether threatened by a dangerous pandemic, a major catastrophe, or just two inches of snow, we need to have ways to get around—and out of—the city other than by car."
We also concur with MARTA Rocks! blogger "UrbanCommuter" in our hope that the snowstorm debacle spurs a serious conversation about how to un-ravel Atlanta's hazardous car-dependence.
"In my fantasy world," says UrbanCommuter, "we would be ... bringing together mayors, commissioners and the governor to begin crafting transportation and walkability solutions that not only help in a once a decade ... snow storm, but enhance our everyday life."
More than concurring and hoping, we're also doing something about it.
On March 18th, we'll be bringing dozens of Atlanta area mayors and hundreds of people on bikes to the gold dome for the 9th annual Georgia Rides to the Capitol. Join us and show your support for a safer, more balanced transportation system in Georgia!
We're a contender! Your friendly statewide bicycle advocacy organization made the finals for Bicycling Magazine's 2014 People's Choice Award.
Details and a link to vote for us here. Full press release below. Thanks for your vote!
Bicycling Magazine, the No. 1 source of information for cyclists, has partnered with the Alliance for Biking & Walking as the presenting sponsor of the 2014 Advocacy Awards, which will be presented March 3 in Washington D.C. The inaugural Bicycling Magazine People's Choice Award has been created as part of this partnership. Voting begins today at Bicycling.com.
The Alliance for Biking & Walking has held the Advocacy Awards since 2009 to recognize excellence in the bicycling and pedestrian movement. The sixth annual Advocacy Awards presented by Bicycling Magazine will shine a spotlight on the often invisible, behind-the-scenes advocacy work that has gone into making communities across North America better for biking and walking in the past year.
In the past, the awards have recognized 11 individuals, 18 organizations, and five businesses that have gone above and beyond to make biking and walking better.
"Bicycling Magazine and the Bicycling brand are committed to supporting cycling advocacy," said Bicycling Editor-in-Chief Peter Flax. "Our commitment to the Alliance for Biking & Walking and the Advocacy Awards will help actively promote cycling at the community level by giving the leaders on the ground the recognition they deserve. We're proud to join and lead this partnership."
"The Alliance for Biking & Walking is thrilled to partner with Bicycling Magazine for the sixth annual Advocacy Awards," said Jeffrey Miller, Alliance President/CEO. "Thousands of advocates across the continent are doing phenomenal work to improve biking in their communities, and we're delighted to haveBicycling's media prowess to help spread the word on these fantastic organizations, leaders, and businesses."
The public will choose between 10 finalists by voting exclusively for the Bicycling Magazine People's Choice Award on Bicycling.com. Voting will run through Feb. 6 and the award will be presented to the winner at the 2014 Advocacy Awards ceremony. Voters can log on directly to: http://www.bicycling.com/
"We wanted to create the Bicycling Magazine People's Choice Award to bring increased visibility to the work of the Alliance and to those across the country fighting every day for the safety of cyclists," Flax said.
The 2014 nominees are: East Bay Bicycle Coalition (San Francisco), MassBike, Bike Cleveland, Active Transportation Alliance (Chicago), Bike Easy (New Orleans), Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (Palo Alto), Bicycle Transportation Alliance (Portland), Bike Delaware, Transportation Alternatives (New York City), Georgia Bikes. More information on each nominee can be found here: http://www.bicycling.
As a service to new and emerging local advocacy organizations, we help groups focus their mission, vision, goals and objectives. We have helped advocates in Augusta, Columbus, Oconee County, Rome, and elsewhere, and we just completed a successful, full-scale planning retreat for the Tift Area Greenway Association. Over the course of a day and a half at a beautiful, remote lake cabin outside of Fitzgerald, GA, TAGA Board members discussed their shared vision for a healthy, safe, walkable, and bikeable Tift County. With a revised, concise mission statement in hand, we developed an achieveable but ambitious set of goals and objectives for the organization.
This is an enthusiastic, committed group to keep an eye on - great things are in store for Tifton and Tift County!
If your group would like to schedule a phone call, a workshop or a multi-day retreat to help focus its efforts, please feel free to contact us.
Official news that a bike share program is indeed slated for roll out in Atlanta: