The Georgia Bikes Blog

South GA Regional Commission Receives National Award for Transportation Planning

Congrats to our friends at SGRC!

Exciting news via press release:

The Southern Georgia Regional Commission, as the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Valdosta and Lowndes County, received the National Award for Outstanding Overall Achievement in Metropolitan Transportation Planning for cities under 200,000 population last week in Fort Worth, Texas at the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations Annual Conference.

The award recognizes the work of local governments to develop an innovative planning process and coordinate local and regional planning efforts for the benefit of the greater community. In 2013, the SGRC started a nearly 30 month process to update our long-range transportation plan. Local leaders saw the opportunity to combine the efforts of a socioeconomic data study and developing a vision and goals with other planning efforts underway in the community, including a comprehensive plan and a housing plan. The staff of the SGRC led the efforts for the development of a Common Community Vision for Lowndes County alongside the 2040 Transportation Vision Plan.

The 2040 Transportation Vision Plan includes 18 goals that relate to the ways in which transportation can positively impact education, workforce development, public health and safety, natural resources, tourism, and utility infrastructure. Building on the successful public and stakeholder involvement that took place during the development of the Common Community Vision, the input for the Transportation Vision Plan for the Valdosta-Lowndes County MPO included sessions where the public could vote on transportation projects, prioritize the transportation goals, and vote on the allocation of more than $1 Billion in transportation funds over the next 25 years. This input helped our local leaders prioritize and develop a Transportation Vision Plan. This Plan includes a Complete Streets Strategy, an Intersection Improvement Strategy that prioritizes safety, and an Active, Healthy Lifestyles Strategy that encourages each local government to spend at least $500,000 annually on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and safety education programs such as Safe Routes to School.

Bicycling Thomasville, GA - Past & Future

In the Spring 2016 issue of Georgia Backroads magazine, authors William Warren Rogers and Robert Holladay describe a "bicycle craze" that swept through Thomasville, GA in the 1890's, prompting construction of "wide pathways, trails and circular tracks linked to the town’s network of existing roads" for people riding bikes.

Like many cities in the US at the time, residents and visitors to Thomasville "enthusiastically embraced a new mode of transportation called the bicycle." Bicycles seemed to find an especially receptive audience in Thomasville, a south Georgia city popular with tourists who believed its "pine-scented air held the promise of physical improvement."

The article goes on to describe a vibrant, bike-friendly atmosphere in Thomasville:

Men and women contributed to bicycling’s phenomenal popularity in Thomas County. For any number of reasons — utilitarian, sport, or simple pleasure — bicycles immediately became popular. It was a natural fit for guests searching for relaxation, restoration, and pleasure in a warm and varied setting. In l886 a local resident wrote in the Thomasville Times, “This mode of transportation is growing in popularity everywhere.”

Today, a new generation of bicyclists in Thomasville is looking to revive this healthy, enjoyable form of transportation and recreation. I Bike Thomasville, an emerging advocacy organization, just started an online petition calling for a Complete Streets conversion of a local street to make it safer for families who want to walk and bike.

For the full, fascinating story on bicycling's heyday in south Georgia, check out the full article here.