MACORTS (Athens Region) Metropolitan Transportation Plan 2050 Update in Process

Metropolitan planning organizations (MPO) are federally designated to administer transportation planning and facilitate federal and state transportation investments within the region for all urban areas with over 50,000 residents. Every five years, MPOs are required to update their Metropolitan Transportation Plan, which covers a 20-year planning horizon and provides MPOs the opportunity to assess the existing transportation network, estimate future demands, and identify needs and future investments. 

The public input process is an important part of the MTP update that provides the project team with context about on-the-ground conditions and the needs of people who regularly use the region’s transportation infrastructure. Having an MTP that accurately reflects the needs of all who use the transportation system, no matter what mode they use, is a crucial step to building more complete, accessible, and safe roadways.

Below is our letter to the project team, our responses to survey questions, and details on how to participate. 

The public input survey is open through March 31 – don’t miss your opportunity to protect people who bike, walk, or roll in your community! 

New Mission and Vision

Georgia Bikes Announces Newly Adopted Mission and Vision

 

Through our work in policy and infrastructure advocacy, education, and direct assistance to local partners, Georgia Bikes has made the state a safer and more enjoyable place for bicycling since 2005.

 

Yet Georgia’s roads remain too dangerous, and not only for those of us who ride bicycles. People traveling outside of a car are more likely than drivers to experience traffic violence, so Georgia Bikes has officially added to our areas of impact by adopting new mission and vision statements. We’ve broadened our work to include both bicycle and pedestrian travel (including people who use mobility devices) and a recognition that safe, equitable transportation is essential to human dignity and quality of life for everyone statewide. Our formally expanded mission will guide the organization to “advance safe, equitable, and sustainable transportation and recreation as vital components of a thriving, livable Georgia.” Through this updated mission, we will work to achieve our new vision: “A Georgia where everyone has access to safe and enjoyable biking, walking, rolling, and transit.” 

 

The national Governors Highway Safety Association recently highlighted an alarming trend: fatalities among people walking are rapidly increasing across America, last year reaching their highest numbers since 1981. According to the report, Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State, deaths have risen by 77% since 2010 and now account for nearly one-fifth of all roadway fatalities nationwide. Recent years have seen a sharper uptick, with fatalities of people walking rising from 6,324 in 2019 to 7,508 in 2022 – a 19% jump in just three years. 

 

Danger is growing even more rapidly for Georgia’s pedestrians: fatalities in our state rose 40% from 2019 to 2022, climbing from 239 to 335 lives lost, a rate of increase more than doubling the national figure.

 

According to Georgia Bikes Executive Director, John Devine, AICP, “Georgia Bikes’ new mission and vision statements reflect the need to address the root causes of fatalities among vulnerable road users: roadway design and transportation policies that historically have prioritized motor vehicles while endangering people who bike, walk, or roll. With this broader mission and updated vision, we look forward to transforming transportation in our state and working toward a Georgia where everyone, no matter how they get around, is confident that they can do so safely and comfortably.”

 

Georgia Bikes remains as committed to our bicycling work as ever, and we will always fight for safe and enjoyable cycling. As illustrated by the League of American Bicyclists’ 2022 report card, bicycling conditions in Georgia – ranked 46 of 50 among states in cyclist fatalities – must be improved. Our recent work shows our commitment: we won substantial improvements in state law governing how motorists pass cyclists, we successfully applied to create a major federal/state partnership to fund Georgia’s first-ever Active Transportation Plan, and we’re now offering more Safe Cycling and Bicycle-Friendly Driver programming than ever before. 

 

“The future of advocacy – and transportation, itself – is multimodal,” Devine said. “Georgia Bikes is committed to creating a safer, more equitable, and more sustainable state for all road users.”

GEORGIA BIKES ANNOUNCES $3M RURAL STATEWIDE ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION PLAN

Georgia Bikes is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to develop and implement a Rural Statewide Active Transportation Plan. Funded by a $2.4 million Transportation Alternatives award from the Federal Highway Administration and $600,000 in GDOT matching funds, this will be the first phase of a robust statewide plan for bicycle and pedestrian transportation. The $3M grant award is the result of a successful application by project sponsor Georgia Bikes, the statewide nonprofit working to improve bicycling and walking.

“The Active Transportation Plan – the first of its kind in our state – will confront one of Georgia’s most serious roadway concerns: the disproportionate number of fatalities and injuries among people walking and bicycling,” said John Devine, AICP, Georgia Bikes Executive Director. “While this plan addresses issues related to rural travel, the project will also define a broader planning framework that GDOT will be able to extend to the rest of the state in future phases, as well as an in-depth examination of state-level policies related to bicycling and walking.”

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data from 2020, Georgia is the eighth-most dangerous state for pedestrians, with a fatality rate of 2.61 per 100,000 residents. Additionally, the state ranks 46th for bicycle commuter safety with 23.2 fatalities per 10,000 bike commuters. The Rural Statewide Active Transportation Plan will take steps to make walking and biking safer for people on Georgia’s roadways.

Data show the dangers of walking and bicycling on state routes, and the plan will seek to eliminate vulnerable road user fatalities along Georgia’s state-owned roadways. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association’s report issued in February 2023, Georgia saw a 4.35% increase in pedestrian fatalities from 2021 to 2022. Georgia’s most recent Bicycle-Friendly State report card, issued by the League of American Bicyclists in 2022, noted that “54% of cyclists killed in Georgia were killed on state DOT-owned roadways since 2015… Addressing safety on state-owned roadways is key to improving bicyclist safety in the state.” This partnership with GDOT is the first step in a proactive approach to combating vulnerable road user fatalities on Georgia’s state-owned roads and beyond.

The Rural Statewide Active Transportation Plan will generate input from people who already bike and walk in rural areas as well as individuals who would consider doing so if dedicated infrastructure existed. The public engagement process, along with creation and analysis of datasets relating to safety and demographics, will identify needs and opportunities unique to rural areas.

Further, the project will catalog gaps in funding sources and availability, and provide a thorough review of other states’ best practices for designing, funding, and building active transportation projects.

“This plan will establish a vision and implementation strategy to improve the safety and comfort levels of rural road users who haven’t benefited enough from the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure that’s so popular in denser areas of Georgia,” Devine said. “It will map out a safe, connective network for rural roadway users, whether they walk, roll, or bike, and it will ensure safer roads for all Georgians.”

For more information about the grant award for Georgia’s Rural Statewide Active Transportation Plan, contact John Devine, AICP, Georgia Bikes Executive Director at jd@georgiabikes.org. To learn more about Georgia Bikes, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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“I think I just hit you”

 

Justin Bristol: After being hit in 2014, I’m using my personal experience to make Georgia safer


In 2014, I left my job and packed up my van to spend the summer in Savannah and ride my bike full time. I was training for my last collegiate racing season and riding three to five hours almost every day.


Being on the road for nearly twenty hours every week meant two things: one was that I probably needed to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist when I got back home, and the second was that I was getting passed by a lot of cars.


I was riding to a bike shop one day that July. I don’t remember the route that I took to get to Victory Drive that morning, but I do remember trying to spend the least amount of time possible on that busy four-lane road.


Then I remember being in the dirt.


I’m lucky that I walked away from the crash without any injuries. I’m even luckier, though, that I get to work to prevent these events from happening to other people.


Through our education programs at Georgia Bikes, I work regularly with law enforcement departments to make Georgia’s roads safer for everyone. The continuing education courses that we offer to these local agencies take a detailed look at Georgia’s cycling laws (including the recently updated three-foot passing law), crash data, and best practices for crash reporting. Plus, I’m able to use a redacted version of my own crash report to share my experiences and discuss options for an improved response to the crash that day.


Your support this Giving Tuesday means that we can continue and grow these programs. With your donations, we can help children and adults who ride bikes learn strategies to stay safe on the road and how to choose safe routes. Your gifts help us offer more Bicycle-Friendly Driver classes to a diverse audience ranging from new, young drivers to professional drivers. Most importantly, we can offer more law enforcement classes to help police officers protect you on the road.


Donate now at: www.georgiabikes.org/donate-to-georgia-bikes/

Request a Georgia Bikes Class in your Town!

Request a Georgia Bikes class!

Do you or your cycling group want help hosting a Smart Cycling class or Group Ride Safety Clinic? Use our new form to request and begin scheduling a course. We’ll reach out as soon as possible to coordinate and work to put on a wonderful class or clinic for you!

You can request:

  • Smart Cycling (builds confidence and knowledge to comfortably ride on the road)
  • Group Ride Safety Clinic Program
  • Youth Cycling Clinic
  • Bicycle Friendly Driver
  • POST Certified Traffic Enforcement for Bicycle Safety Course (for law enforcement officers)

Unfortunately, Georgia Bikes can’t accommodate every request, but we’ll do our best to work with you to make sure you get the services you need! Whether that means connecting you to other League Certified Instructors or cycling advocacy groups, or scheduling a virtual opportunity, we want to make sure you have the tools to have fun and be safe on the road or trail.

Local Club Spotlight: Bikes and Friends

Georgia Bikes spoke with Dan Leonard from the Bikes and Friends Cycling Club. Bikes and Friends is a community of friends in Peachtree Corners, Johns Creek, Duluth, Suwanee and surrounding areas who have a passion for cycling, and work to promote health and fitness while supporting each other.

To have your club featured in our Local Club Spotlight, email justin@georgiabikes.org.

Georgia Bikes: Tell me a little bit about your group. When did the club start?
Bikes and Friends started informally in 2011 with a group of cyclists that purchased their bikes and gear at a shop in Johns Creek originally called The Bicycle Wheel. The manager of the shop, Amos Harvey, raced competitively and led our group ride on Saturday morning helping us build the skills needed to safely ride together since most of us had no prior experience with group rides. Over time, we became good friends while staying competitive with one another. And we have continued to build on our friendships adding many new “friends” to our group while taking our riding to the next level and beyond.

GB: I’ve noticed that a lot of group rides today lack this foundational approach and that every ride is a “Tuesday Night Worlds” type of hammerfest. Do you think building these skills together (rather than just getting on the bike and going as hard as you can) has contributed to the group’s longevity?
Amos was a huge influence, especially with the basics such as emphasizing safety by helping us build a better cadence, and establishing no-drop rides with periodic regroups. And when he later moved to Atlanta Cycling in Duluth with the former owner, Mark Gernazian, they both helped us take our skills to the next level while learning to safely ride in a peloton, optimizing our efforts, and having more fun. And building these skills together has clearly contributed to the longevity of our group. We know how far we have come together and have great respect for each other’s work ethic. And it has also made us very collaborative in sharing what we have learned. And of course by nature we are a competitive group, so we are always challenging one another and looking for new riders that share our spirit.  


GB: Who had the idea to found the club? What was the inspiration (raising money/awareness for a cause, racing, junior/women’s riding, or maybe just looking for an alternative to the existing clubs in town)?
When the Bicycle Wheel transferred ownership in 2015 and there was no longer a staff member to lead us, one of our stronger riders took over leading our Saturday group ride. And since we were now responsible for organizing our rides, we gave our group the name “Bikes and Friends Cycling Club” and created a Facebook page mostly to communicate our ride and route details.

Our inspiration was to stay a close-knit group and to work as hard as our schedules and families would allow for us to become the strongest and fittest riders that we could. In the beginning, we were still relatively new to group riding and were looking for an alternative to some of the larger and less personal rides.

GB: How many people were part of it initially? How many do you have now? Originally there were about 15-20 active riders in our club. Today we have 309 members that have signed up to be part of Bikes and Friends and actively use our Facebook page for communications. Although we closely monitor our page and member activity, anyone is allowed to post on our Bikes and Friends page. We also have a Bikes and Friends Cycling Club on Strava made up of our 62 most competitive members to share their ride results and compare with others. 

GB: What makes people want to ride with you- is there something different about your group that they may not find elsewhere?
We are competitive and we are compassionate. We are a competitive group who share a passion for cycling while supporting each other. As our group has gotten stronger our rides are faster, so we have started a group within our club called “Strivers Club” that attracts newer riders or experienced riders who are returning from injury or a gap that want to train back up. These rides are at a slower pace with the intention of mentoring folks new to Bikes and Friends to become better group riders.

Our 4-7 rides each week are communicated clearly on our Facebook page including links to the routes in Strava and pertinent details. And every Sunday we have a special ride that usually involves either a coffee and donuts break or a brew pub visit. We also have at least one annual 4-day ride in May typically over the Blue Ridge Parkway. Throughout the year our group participates in many charity rides wearing our embroidered Bikes and Friends shirts, and we train rigorously as a group beginning in May/June to prepare for the Three/Six Gap ride in Dahlonega on September 25th.

We are a multicultural group with active riders originally from Germany, Korea, South Africa, Colombia, and the UK. 

GB: How did the idea for the “Strivers” come up? It’s easy to take a Darwinistic approach to group rides and clubs, how important is it to you all to continue fostering new riders and growing those skills? I came up with the idea and the name “Strivers Club”. We encourage all of our riders to connect on the application Strava, and in Swedish strava means “strive.”  Striving is consistent with Bikes and Friends’ core desire in striving to get better. One of the challenges that we were having with our rides was that since we were getting so fast, many of the folks who joined us couldn’t keep up. And even with our best efforts to keep the group together, folks would occasionally get dropped. Following my recent recovery from an unrelated hip fracture and subsequent surgery, I was especially motivated to encourage new riders to join us along with previous riders that maybe gave us a try and stopped showing up. Many of these riders are strong but for whatever reason say injury or time off the bike, they have receded some and were interested in getting back to at least where they were before. You often see folks like this that are good riders and are out riding alone. I recognized through my own experience that it’s a lot more fun and effective in getting stronger by riding in a group. Especially a group like ours!       

GB: What has your club accomplished that makes you proud? What do you want to do next? We brought many new members into the group while maintaining our integrity with the primary goal of supporting one another to achieve a healthy and active lifestyle. We help each other build optimal training schedules, make healthy diet choices, and enjoy each other’s company getting together after most rides and in our many social events. We are also proud of the riders in our group that are now part of NGCA and participate in the many sanctioned races here in the Southeast. As far as what we want to do next, we have discussed an interest in having more frequent and interesting destination rides with a Natchez Trace Trail ride on the horizon.

GB: If our readers were to take away just one thing about your group, what do you think it should be? If you are interested in spending time with a nice group of folks that will help support your passion for cycling and desire to get stronger while having a great time then Bikes and Friends Cycling Club may be for you. 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1522042881443737