With generous assistance from the Federal Highway Administration’s “Accelerating Safety Activities Program,” we recently completed a series of four-hour workshops on the need for Complete Streets, their many benefits, and best practices in bicycle and pedestrian facility design. Each workshop provided two hours of classroom instruction, taught by Georgia Bikes’ Executive Director, GDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, and experts from ALTA Planning + Design. For our two coastal workshops, we also learned about the Coastal Georgia Greenway, an exciting project that recently secured a formal show of support from state lawmakers. The final two hours of each workshop involved a bus tour of streets and intersections that either represented noteworthy examples of best practices or those areas where better bicycle and pedestrian accommodations are warranted.
In May, we started our workshop series in Decatur. Partnering with Decatur Active Living, the initial workshop was an excellent way to begin, since the city of Decatur is already a statewide leader in Complete Streets implementation. During our bus tour, participants got up close and personal with Decatur’s “bike boxes” and protected bike lanes, examples of leading edge infrastructure for safer bicycling. June saw us visiting Rome in northwest Georgia. Brad Davis of ALTA Planning + Design led attendees through a low stress bicycle route exercise, in which they developed a safe, comfortable bike route through a mock-up city. Facility selection and design was determined by roadway conditions, destinations, and budgetary considerations. After the exercise, we visited several key sites in Rome, including a new elementary school, Broad Street downtown, and the multi-use trails along the banks of the Etowah and Oostanaula Rivers.
A central theme of the workshop was “connectivity.” A few dangerous intersections or gaps in the network can create significant barriers to bicyle and pedestrian safety and access. In July, we moved to Georgia’s coast, hosting back-to-back workshops in Kingsland and Brunswick. For these workshops, we invited Jo Claire Hickson, Executive Director of the Coastal Georgia Greenway, to share their exciting news about a new Joint Study Committee, convening this summer to explore how the state can fast track completion of the Greenway. In our tours, we emphasized the value of the Greenway and the need for safe connections to it from neighborhoods, local attractions, and central business districts.
Our final workshop in Brunswick occurred in the shadow of a tragic collision on US Highway 17. A few weeks before the event, an intoxicated motorist hit and killed Mr. Joseph Wilson, a husband, father, and sailor who was out enjoying a bike ride while his ship was in Brunswick’s port for the day. At the start of the workshop, our Executive Director read a moving letter from his sister and daughter, calling on the city to do whatever it takes to improve bicyclist safety in the area. Incredibly, another man on a bicycle was killed after the workshop while riding to St. Simons Island. We hope Brunswick and
Glynn County officials take the lessons of our workshop to heart and act swiftly to improve the dangerous roadways and intersections that increase the odds of fatal collisions like these. We are grateful to the Federal Highway Administration for their support of these workshops, and we look forward to conducting more of these trainings for other communities in Georgia who would like to provide safe, welcoming streets for all users, motorized and non-motorized alike.