In honor of National Bike Month, the League of American Bicyclists has released its latest Bicycle Friendly States Ranking. In the fifth annual assessment, Georgia achieved a #23 ranking nationally, up from 40th place in 2011.
Georgia’s #23 ranking was based on a number of key indicators, including infrastructure and funding that provide on-the-ground bicycle facilities; education and encouragement programs that promote cycling; and passage and enforcement of bicycle-friendly laws that make it safe and comfortable for people of all ages to ride.
Georgia earned the most points in the Legislation and Enforcement category. In 2011, Governor Nathan Deal signed into law HB 101, the “Better Bicycling Bill.” This legislation provides increased safety for Georgia’s cyclists by requiring motorists to provide at least a three foot buffer when following or passing a cyclist. It also clarifies that cyclists may take the travel lane to avoid hazards and requires bicyclists to travel in the same direction as other vehicular traffic. On the enforcement front, Georgia Bikes used the passage of HB 101 to implement an on-site training course for Georgia law enforcement officers. The course, accredited by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, provides traffic officers with comprehensive information on the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists. Georgia Bikes also produced the second edition of its popular Law Enforcement Pocket Guide and has distributed 2,000 copies to traffic enforcement officers throughout the state.
In spite of these accomplishments, many Georgia roads are not designed with bicyclist safety in mind. The League recommends the adoption of a statewide Complete Streets policy as well as better utilization of federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements. The League also urges the state DOT to convene a Bicycle Advisory Committee and update the statewide bicycle plan with implementation actions and performance metrics to gauge success in improving cyclist access and safety.
Gerald Ross, Chief Engineer at the Georgia Department of Transportation says that GDOT “is pleased by the state’s improvement in the League of American Bicyclists’ rankings. We believe it reflects the Department’s renewed commitment to fully develop all modes of transportation. And while we are pleased, we are not satisfied. We are focusing now on finalizing an initiative in keeping with the Complete Streets Coalition’s model.”
“We are very proud to see our state recognized as a great place to ride a bicycle, be it for recreation or transportation,” adds Georgia Bikes Executive Director Brent Buice. “We still have a lot of work to do to ensure that all road users are safely accommodated, but the League’s feedback provides clear and achievable goals for us to pursue.”