The Georgia Bikes Blog

Macon, GA to coordinate largest ever pop-up bike network

A thrilling press release from our friends at NewTown Macon:

Macon Connects Street Makeover Will Bring Temporary Bike Network and Public Space Improvements to Downtown Macon 

On September 16 and 17, 2016, Macon will launch the largest network of temporary bike lanes ever constructed. The connected and accessible grid of bike lanes are coming to Downtown Macon as part of the Macon Connects Street Makeover. The Street Makeover route covers more than six miles and runs along eight corridors in Downtown Macon. A complete map of the route is available athttp://tinyurl.com/maconconnectsconcept.

The Macon Connects Street Makeover is a massive undertaking, requiring the help of hundreds of volunteers. Community members interested in volunteering to help build the bike network or host street activities can sign up online at http://tinyurl.com/streetmakeover.  

The Macon Connects Street Makeover will enhance connectivity and mobility in Macon through creative street activations in addition to the temporary bike lanes. Residents are invited to come and experience what it would be like to have safer and more vibrant streets for walking and biking. The ribbon cutting will be held Friday, September 16 at 5:30PM on the corner of Poplar and Third Streets. A bike tour of the infrastructure will leave at 6:00PM, with a family-friendly bike parade following at 6:30PM.  

“The Macon Connects Street Makeover is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people to make their ideas to improve our city come to life,” says Josh Rogers, President and CEO of NewTown Macon. “With these temporary prototypes, we can experiment with new and creative ideas to improve safety, livability, and connectivity in Macon. This is an exciting chance to show that small, inexpensive changes can dramatically improve conditions for walking and cycling in our community.” 

The on-street experiments will be evaluated based on reactions and feedback from community members, which will be recorded in a final report along with recommendations for next steps that local leaders can take to make permanent improvements to urban mobility and street life. This initiative builds on the data and directives that came out of the 2015 Macon Action Plan (MAP), funded by the Peyton Anderson Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. MAP set out four overarching goals for Macon’s Urban Core, one of which is to Cultivate Connectivity.   

The Macon Connects Street Makeover is the second phase of the Macon Connects initiative, which is designed to improve connectivity and civic engagement in the city. Macon Connects began with an Ideas Festival in June 2016. The Ideas Festival invited residents to provide ideas to improve mobility and connectivity in Macon. More than 1,100 people attended events during Ideas Festival, and contributed 430 creative ideas to improve mobility.  

For updates on the Macon Connects Street Makeover schedule and to access the community engagement report, visit the Macon Connects website at: newtownmacon.com/macon-connects 

ABOUT MACON CONNECTS 

The Macon Connects team is led by NewTown Macon and Macon-Bibb County (Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority, Main Street Macon, Department of Parks and Beautification), with support from Bike Walk Macon. Rapid urban prototyping and community engagement services are being provided by Better Block Foundation and 8 80 Cities, respectively. The project is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation through their Knight Cities Challenge. Macon Connects was selected from a pool of more than 4,500 entries into the nation-wide competition.  

MEDIA CONTACT 

Josh Rogers, President & CEO, NewTown Macon 

e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | p: 478-722-9909 

League magazine profiles our staff, offers guidance on reaching Silver

In its latest digital magazine, the League of American Bicyclists profiles our own award-winning Safety Education Program Manager, Nedra Deadwyler, and offers tips for communities who want to move up to Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community status.

Nedra was honored at the 2016 National Bike Summit as one of the League's 2016 Educators of the Year. We're so proud of her work to teach safe bicycling to Georgians of all ages and of her tireless efforts to inform law enforecement officers in Georgia of bicyclist rights and responsibilities. The full article is available here. Way to go, Nedra!

The second article offers Arlington, VA as a model case study for commuities who want to improve their ranking from Bronze to Silver (all of Georgia's designated BFC's are Bronze...so far!). Top tips:

  • Create low stress networks: A bike route is only as safe as the least safe segment. Do families have to cross busy, high-speed highways to reach their destination? If so, they probably won't bike.
  • Invest in better bike parking: A lonely, beat-up bike rack hidden behind a fence does not communicate that bicyclists are welcome. There are plenty of great products out there (Dero and Saris to name but two).
  • Get beyond basic bike lanes: 4' of pavement with a narrow stripe of white paint does not make most people feel safe. Emphasize best practices facilities like protected bike lanes.
  • Count people on bikes! In traffic engineering world, if you're not counted, you don't count.

BRAG, a Savannah tragedy, and hope for better streets

Last week, I participated in the annual Bicycle Ride Across Georgia, a challenging but enjoyable tour of (mostly) country roads and small towns. Georgia has so much potential to be a major bicycle tourism destination. Our state is beautiful, our towns and cities are filled with history, interesting architecture, and good food. 

This was my second BRAG, and I'm glad I did it. I hope to do it again, and I encourage anyone interested in a unique, healthy experience to try bicycle touring, even if only for an overnight trip to a nearby state or national park.

I write this now with a heavy heart, however, and my experience of the ride is deeply bittersweet. When my wife, a friend and I rode into downtown Savannah, we were elated, exhausted, and intensely proud of what we had just accomplished, but our emotions quickly soured and our hearts sank as we learned the horrifying news of what had happened only an hour earlier. Just blocks from the finish line, after riding over 350 miles, some of it in driving rain and among hostile, indifferent motorists, Judy Grossman, a 61 year old BRAG participant from Florida, crashed and was run over by a dump truck. She died later that day from her injuries.

What should have been a joyous moment of celebration with friends and family was turned upside down. Why? How did this happen? By all accounts, the truck driver was obeying the law and cannot be faulted for what happened. But why is a major trucking route situated in the very heart of one of the most walked parts of one of the state's most walked cities? Savannah is certainly aware of the safety issues on Bay St and is thankfully working on solutions. That will come as small consolation to Ms. Grossman's family, and the families of others who have been hit, injured or killed on Bay St.

Bad road design, design that ignores the safety and access of human beings, is largely to blame for this and similar fatal crashes throughout the state. For too long, we have prioritized the high-speed movement of cars and trucks and ignored the safety of families just trying to cross the street or ride to school. Our streets are dangerous by design, and it's way past time to change that.

In a timely coincidence, we hosted a day-long workshop on Monday, June 13th, on how to change and improve our streets. Peter Koonce, a traffic engineer from Portland, OR and a national expert on urban mobility and street design, led the workshop for over thirty traffic engineers and city officials from eleven municpalities and two coastal counties. Half the participants were employeed by the city of Savannah. Attendees were engaged, attentive, and they learned a great deal about safe intersections, protected bike lanes, and other engineering treatments for bicyclist and pedestrian safety. I sincerely hope the lessons learned will help cities like Savannah, Brunswick, Statesboro and Valdosta start improving their streets for the safe movement of people, not just heavy machines.

As Mr. Koonce pointed out, a safe, sensible, and sane transportation netowrk in a city prioritizes people walking and bicycling first, and single-occupancy motor vehicles should be catered to last. Georgia's cities have a long way to go to achieve the safety and quality of life improvements enjoyed by Portlanders, but the design guidance is well known, it's mainstream, and now it's just up to our city leaders to have the vision and leadership to do what desperately needs to be done.

If you are tired of high speed motor vehicle traffic in your city or neighborhood, let your state and local elected officials know it. Talk to your mayor, your city council members, and your state senators and representatives. Demand funding for safe streets for all, no matter their age, ability or means of travel. Insist on robust enforcement of Georgia's three feet safe passing law, and make it known that, as a voter and taxpayer, you support the prioritization of people walking and bicycling.

Keep up the great local advocacy efforts, and stay safe out there.

- Brent Buice, Executive Director

 

 

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