South GA: Something for Every Cyclist

I just wrapped up a week-long tour of south GA, and I can sum up the trip in a few words: surprisedimpressed, and appreciative.

Starting in Columbus, I met with the extraordinarily bike friendly mayor, Teresa Tomlinson, and the local advocacy group, Bicycle Columbus. Mayor Tomlinson’s bold ambition? To see that Columbus becomes the state’s first silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community! Columbus has a great start toward this and a dedicated crew of local advocates. I’m certain they will reach their goal with a few key improvements to connectivity in their bike network. If you’ve never been, you must visit the Riverwalk! You have miles and miles (and miles) of beautiful multi-use path for both transportation and fitness riding alongside the Chattahoochee River. You should also check out their newest path, the Fall Line Trace, which connects downtown to Columbus State University and beyond. Columbus is poised to be the next cycling mecca in the southeast and is well worth the trip.

From Columbus, I traveled to Americus, a true gem of antebellum brick architecture and home to some stunning rural riding. Led on a tour by the Sumter Cyclists, we barely saw a half dozen cars on a long, leisurely ride in historic neighborhoods and on country lanes. Ample bike signage makes touring Sumter County a breeze for even a first time visitor.

Next stop: Albany, where the Pecan City Pedalers rolled out the red carpet, taking me on a pleasant tour of the city’s historic neighborhoods and beautifully maintained multi-use path along the Flint River. Our Signage Grants helped the city install wayfinding signs and sharrows which make for a welcoming, easy ride on low-traffic streets. With a renewed downtown and plenty of destinations within a few miles, Albany can quickly become a hub for both bicycle transportation and impressive rural sport cycling.

After a memorable lunch in picturesque Thomasville, I moved on to Valdosta to participate in a workshop about improving bicycling in south GA, with an emphasis on Valdosta. Despite a noticeable lack of bicycle infrastructure, I saw significant numbers of people riding for transportation in Valdosta. With an informed plan and modest investments, Valdosta, too, can become a major center for transportation cycling in south Georgia. Many thanks to Corey Hull at the Southern Georgia Regional Commission for his efforts to spur the city’s development of a safe bike network.

On to Tifton, where the Tift Area Greenway Association took me on an enjoyable tour of the city (and its BBQ) and then hosted a well-attended workshop where I presented the benefits of being a Bike Friendly Community. Multiple elected officials and the city manager attended, and everyone agreed that creating a safe bike network in Tifton is a worthwhile investment for the city and its residents.

After a long drive along state bike route 10 (which, unfortunately, featured no facilities and continuous rumble strips), I ended my trip with two nights at the home of our Board member TC Hutson on St. Simons Island. Together, we toured the islands growing network of bike paths and visited the local cycling club in Brunswick. We spent a day riding the impressive bike paths and low-traffic roads of Jekyll Island. In between all these rides, I met with local leaders from the islands to discuss funding opportunities for taking the already excellent bike facilities of coastal Georgia to the next level. As evidenced by the hundreds of cyclists we saw along the way, tourists and residents alike know that GA’s “Golden Isles” and·riding a bike are inseparable.·

My sincerest thanks to everyone I met along the way who made this trip such an enjoyable experience. Southern hospitality – and cycling – is at its finest in south GA! I look forward to seeing your progress on creating even better bicycling conditions. 

2013 Signage Grant Awards

Your Share the Road tag at work!

For the third consecutive year, we are awarding matching grants to assist Georgia communities with the purchase and installation of bicycle safety and way-finding signage. Funding for these grants comes directly from our grant with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. Their bike safety program is funded in large part by proceeds from the Share the Road specialty tag – if you don’t have one for your other vehicle, please get one when it’s time to renew your tag. The extra money you pay for the tag directly supports both statewide and local bicycle advocacy and even funds on-the-ground improvements like bicycle signage!

This year’s Signage Grants have been awarded to:2013 Signage Grant Awards

Decatur – $2,500

Griffin – $4,500

Oconee County – $500

Savannah – $2,500

Congratulations to our grant recipients, and watch for photos of their grant-funded signage coming soon!

GDOT Commits to Building Backlogged Bike-Ped Projects

Georgia DOT Commits to Funding Backlog of Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects

At the conclusion of National Bike Month, the Georgia Department of Transportation announced that it will complete a backlogged list of planned bicycle and pedestrian projects across the state. To do so, GDOT will transfer its apportionment of the new federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funding to the more flexible Surface Transportation Program (STP), which is also sourced from federal funds.

Larger urban areas, such as Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah, received a direct allotment of TAP money to assist with the design and construction of active transportation projects. The share of TAP that remained with the DOT, however, will be redirected into STP, which may also be used for bicycle and pedestrian accommodations. 

“Based on the number of TAP-eligible projects currently programmed and in the development process,” says GDOT Chief Engineer Russell McMurry, “the Department will focus on delivering the backlog of existing projects, as all of these projects were selected through a competitive process.”

“Georgia Bikes applauds the DOT’s commitment to finishing these popular, healthy and sensible transportation and recreation options for the people of Georgia,” says Executive Director Brent Buice.

“GDOT partners with local governments, regional commissions, and MPOs to incorporate Complete Streets principles and standards into local transportation projects as well as GDOT projects regardless of fund source,” adds McMurry, “[and] GDOT is committed to providing safe, adequate and balanced accommodations for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users, regardless of age or ability, wherever it is feasible to do so.”

GDOT Commits to Building Backlogged Bike-Ped ProjectsThe Transportation Alternatives Program was created under the latest federal transportation funding legislation, known as MAP-21, and replaces the Transportation Enhancements (TE) and Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs. Transportation Enhancements funds have helped fund major projects such as the Silver Comet Trail, the Rome-Floyd Heritage Trail System, Jekyll Island’s bike paths, and many others.