Bike Walk Golden Isles, Georgia’s newest bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organization, picks up speed

Bike Walk Golden Isles makes important progress in 2021, sets ambitious goals for the future

In December 2019, a public meeting was held in Brunswick to gauge interest in a new bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organization on the Coast. Then the pandemic hit, stopping the effort in its tracks. But only temporarily. Bike Walk Golden Isles, Georgia’s newest bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organization, is again rolling forward, having made significant progress this year.

 

Van Black, chair of the BWGI board of directors, said he’s proud of the speed with which the organization came together. A steering committee was formed and began meeting twice a month via Zoom, members started participating in socially-distanced outdoor activities, and a survey was conducted to identify priorities for the organization. 

 

“We built a board, we created a solid set of corporate bylaws, established financial systems, and we researched and implemented a comprehensive donor management system in just a few months,” he said.

 

Black is also pleased with the composition of the board of directors, which grew out of the steering committee, and the expertise that individual members bring to it.

 

“All of our board members are very knowledgeable and are experts in the roles that they have accepted. They have direct experience in running non-profit organizations, in maintaining and expanding infrastructure, and in creating educational and safety programs,” he said. “Additionally, everyone works well together and has fun as a group.”

 

Patti Sistrunk, program manager at the Georgia Safe Routes to School Resource Center, serves as BWGI secretary and is also enthused with the organization’s recent accomplishments.

 

“I’m proud that we’re seeing such an immediate interest from the community while being able to collaborate and partner with so many organizations and people already,” she said. “Every conversation I have about Bike Walk Golden Isles leads to more possibilities. This organization was needed.” 

Bike Walk Golden Isles, the Georgia Safe Routes to School Resource Center, Bike Walk Savannah, and Georgia Bikes teamed up to offer bicycle safety education programs to hundreds of students in Coastal Georgia.

 

One such opportunity for collaboration occurred in May when BWGI teamed up with Georgia Bikes and Bike Walk Savannah to develop a bicycle education program for hundreds of students at Burroughs-Molette Elementary School in Brunswick. The partnership continued when the organizations offered education programs to students enrolled in Savannah-Chatham County Public School System summer programs. In all, nearly 400 students at seven schools participated in bicycle safety programs.

 

Bike Walk Savannah Executive Director Caila Brown said, “Having BWGI just down the road allows us to cooperate on issues throughout the coastal region. Our partnership with BWGI will also help us find opportunities to improve connectivity and expand mobility options in coastal communities — and amplify the effectiveness of both our organizations.”

 

Brown said she’s seen groups in Metro Atlanta work together and is glad to have similar opportunities for collaboration in Southeast Georgia. In addition to partnering with Bike Walk Savannah, BWGI has also worked with the Brunswick Downtown Development Authority, the Gullah Geechee Bicycle Ride Across Georgia Dream Team, the Golden Isles Track Club, the Camden Cycling Club, the East Coast Greenway Alliance, the Coastal Regional Commission, and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

 

BWGI served as a local host for the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Capital to Coast bicycle safety event in Brunswick.

 

Black said the organization is well positioned to promote the region’s reputation as a good place for walking and biking, while advocating for projects that improve safety.

 

“The Golden Isles are one of the best places in the country for biking, walking, and rolling. Certain infrastructure elements designed to support these activities are currently in place, but there are tremendous opportunities for additional growth,” he said. “BWGI is striving to work with local officials to provide more trails, paths, and other opportunities to enjoy life in the Golden Isles. Additionally, there are many residents here — and tourists as well — who are new to biking, walking, and rolling and BWGI wants to help these people to learn to love these activities, to engage in relevant events, and to be safe while they are enjoying these undertakings.”

 

BWGI has big plans in 2021, including organizing fun, casual bike rides for people of all ages and abilities, growing its membership,  and becoming a, “trusted source in the community for delivering educational and safety programs,” Black said. This year BWGI has participated in and helped to promote the Gullah Geechee BRAG Dream Team’s monthly Justice for Ahmaud Community Bike Rides, staffed a booth at Brunswick PorchFest, and served as one of the local hosts for the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Capital to Coast bicycle safety tour.

 

 

BWGI members participate in the Gullah Geechee Bicycle Ride Across Georgia Dream Team’s Justice for Ahmaud Community Bike Rides and help tp promote the events.

The organization is also ready to represent coastal residents who want safer streets and public spaces, Black said, and members have been meeting with elected officials and other local government staff members.

 

“We want to be a resource for area politicians, the Georgia Department of Transportation representatives, Department of Natural Resources personnel, and other community officials as they focus on enhancing the local infrastructure by creating more biking, walking, and rolling opportunities for residents and visitors.”

 

Sistrunk has a similar vision for the organization’s role.

 

“BWGI will be a collective voice for people who want to bike and walk as well as people who have to bike and walk,” she said. “ I’m a project manager who works in bicycle and pedestrian programs for a living, and I value the important role bicycle and pedestrian advocates play around the state and country. I’ve seen the amazing things groups like Georgia Bikes, Bike Walk Savannah, BikeAthens, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, Bike Coweta, and Bike Walk Macon do. I want that here where I live and I want to be a part of it. I hope a lot of other people want to be part of BWGI, too.” 

 

Georgia Bikes began providing administrative support to Bike Walk Golden Isles in October 2019, as part of its efforts to strengthen bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations throughout the state and help to launch new efforts. If you are interested in how Georgia Bikes can help organize advocacy initiatives your community, email info@georgiabikes.org.

Meet John Devine, Georgia Bikes’ new executive director

Meet John Devine, Georgia Bikes' new executive director

Meet our new Executive Director, John Devine, AICP.  John lives in Athens and comes to Georgia Bikes with over twenty years of experience in transportation and community planning. 

When he’s not riding bikes, talking about bikes, tinkering with bikes, or advocating for people who bike, John enjoys music, soccer, disc golf, hiking, traveling, and spending time with his family.  

Learn more about John.

2021 Georgia Bike-Walk Summit Registration Now Available

Registration for the 2021 Georgia Bike-Walk Summit is now available

Registration for the virtual conference is free, but donations and Georgia Bikes memberships are encouraged

Now in its 12th year, Georgia Bikes’ annual summit is expanding to include sessions of interest to advocates seeking to make biking, walking, and rolling in our state safer and better for all of us. The summit is presented by Bike Walk GA supported by a grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation.

This year’s summit will be held entirely online, Oct. 20-22, with variety of session types, including single presentations, moderated panel discussions, and small-group interactive discussions. 

 

 

Biketober challenge kicks off Oct. 1

Biketober challenge begins Oct. 1, Atlanta area residents invited to participate

It’s time to gear up for the annual Biketober challenge!

Biketober is a fun, free competition that encourages all metro Atlantans to experience the joy of riding a bike. Throughout the month of October, the challenge offers participants opportunities to win prizes and offer to encourage each other to experience the joys and benefits of riding bikes. 

Prizes up for grabs include an electric bike from Edison Bicycles and, if you register by Sept. 30, you’ll have the chance to win a $1,000 REI gift card. Here’s how to get rolling:

You can ride anywhere, anytime in October – just a 10-minute ride is enough to take part.

  1. Register – Login (if you’ve taken part before) or Sign-up
  2. Enjoy a bike ride/s
  3. Log it here or connect a cycling app (Strava or Map My Ride)
  4. Earn points, climb the leaderboards and win prizes!

You can also invite your coworkers to take part and compete against other workplaces on an Atlanta-wide workplace leaderboard.

More information and detailed instructions are available on the Biketober website.

Georgia Bikes Board of Directors thanks Elliott Caldwell for his service

Georgia Bikes Board of Directors thanks Elliott Caldwell for his service

The Georgia Bikes Board of Directors wishes to thank Elliott Caldwell for his service to the organization. Elliott joined the Georgia Bikes staff as complete streets coordinator in 2016 and served as executive director from June 2017 to September 2021. Elliott has returned to Washington, D.C. to pursue new opportunities.

“The work Elliott has done to create safer bicycling reaches throughout the state and touches beginning cyclists as well as more experienced,” said Georgia Bikes Board of Directors Chair Cheryl Burnette. “Georgia Bikes is thankful to have had the pleasure and honor of working with Elliott to move our organization and cycling in the state forward. We wish Elliott well as he moves on to the next chapter.”

Elliott worked tirelessly with partner organizations and lawmakers to pass important legislation, including Georgia’s new three-foot passing law, which went into effect July 1 of this year. He planned and produced the annual Georgia Bike Summit for four years, including the first-ever virtual summit in 2020. Throughout his tenure with Georgia Bikes, he provided support, guidance, and encouragement to bicycle advocacy organizations and individuals from all over the state.

He also undertook the difficult but necessary task of contacting friends and families of fatal crash victims to connect them with support services, while establishing partnerships with government agencies, other nonprofits, businesses, and community organizations to improve safety and access for people who bike, walk, and roll. Elliott was steadfast in his commitment to making the state a better place for all people who ride bikes, and all Georgians — no matter how they travel — have benefited from his work to make our state’s streets and roadways safer for everyone.

 

Georgia Bikes’ mission is to improve bicycling conditions and promote bicycling throughout the state of Georgia. Founded in 2006, the nonprofit has offices in Athens and Savannah. Support safer and better bicycling by joining or donating to Georgia Bikes today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Youth Bike Summit in Atlanta postponed until 2022

Registration now available for Youth Bike Summit

UPDATE:

Due to the spike in COVID-19 infections as a result of the Delta variant and the lack of vaccination options for youth under 12 years of age, the Youth Bike Summit (YBS) National Steering Committee has decided to postpone the 2021 Youth Bike Summit in Atlanta planned for October 8th – 10th.  In consultation with the BRAG Dream Team and the YBS Atlanta Youth Advisory Council the YBS National Steering Committee will select a new date for the 2022 Youth Bike Summit by December 2021. 

 

After a pandemic year of sheltering in place and maintaining social distance while wearing masks, the Youth Bike Summit is back and it will take place in Atlanta the weekend of Oct. 8 – 10. The BRAG (Bike Ride Across Georgia) Dream Team is the host organization for this national gathering and Wilderness Works is the host site. Due to the vaccination campaign limits, the 2021 Youth Bike Summit will be designed to maximize safety for the youth and adults who attend this special event.

Registration is now available and session proposals are being accepted. Find out more on the Youth Bike Summit website.

People for Bikes hosting VIP tent at Athens’ Twilight Criterium

Enjoy prime race views for the start and finish of the Athens Twilight Criterium, great hospitality, meet athletes and mingle with PeopleForBikes staff and industry colleagues at Athens Twilight on Aug. 21 from 5-10 p.m. The tent will be located at the corner of College Avenue and East Washington Street. Registration is required. 

Athens Twilight is the pinnacle of criterium racing in the United States. 

As CyclingTips.com puts it, “The streets of downtown Athens, Georgia, become a block party. Fireworks in the parking lot, bars overflowing, thousands of screaming college kids lining barriers. Oh, and there’s also a bike race happening.”

First ever Georgia Bike Walk Summit scheduled for Oct. 20-23

First ever Georgia Bike-Walk Summit set for Oct. 20-23

Summit will be presented in a hybrid format, combining virtual sessions with outdoor mobile workshops around the state

 

Now in its 12th year, Georgia Bikes’ annual summit is expanding to include sessions of interest advocates seeking to make our biking, walking, and rolling in our state safer, more accessible and equitable, and better for all. The summit is supported by a grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation.

“We are thrilled to announce the dates for the 2021 Georgia Bike Walk Summit, organized in collaboration with our colleagues at PEDS, who recently merged with Atlanta Bicycle Coalition,” said Georgia Bikes Executive Director Elliott Caldwell.

Sessions will be scheduled for Oct. 20-23, . All virtual sessions will take place Wednesday-Friday, with Saturday, Oct. 23 reserved for mobile sessions. Mobile sessions may also be scheduled for other days/times. The summit will offer a variety of session types, including single presentations, moderated panel discussions, mobile sessions, workshops, and small group interactive discussions. Session proposals are now being accepted.

Suggested session topics include:

Transportation funding
Technology
Cultural change
Accessibility
Bicycle Safety

Placemaking
Healthy communities
Transportation equity
Rural and suburban multi-modal networks
Multi-use trails

Bicycle events and tourism
Adaptive re-use
Public engagement
Technical skills workshops
Mobile tours

Updates on sessions and other details will be posted on the Georgia Bike-Walk Summit website. 

Big wins for people biking, walking, and in Macon and statewide

Big wins for people biking, walking, and rolling in Macon and statewide

As June draws to a close, advocates in Macon are celebrating the passage of a new ordinance that will make local streets safer and more accessible. And beginning in July, a new, more effective 3-foot passing law will go into effect statewide.

Macon-Bibb County adopts Complete Streets ordinance

On June 22, the Macon-BibbCounty Commission unanimously passed an ordinance, the purpose of which is to, “establish Macon-Bibb County as a livable community with enhanced mobility, equity, and vitality in all neighborhoods and for people of all ages and abilities, through the design, maintenance, and use of public rights of way. Macon-Bibb County aims to create a robust, efficiently operated, and well-connected transit network, a well-defined pedestrian and bicycle system, and to promote the improvement of public health, safety, economic growth, and quality of life.”

 “Bike Walk Macon began working on the Macon-Bibb County Complete Streets Policy in 2016 with countless groups, advocates, and Macon-Bibb County agencies,” said Bike Walk Macon Executive Director Rachel Hollar Umana. “We’re thrilled to finally reach this important milestone that demonstrates that our leadership recognizes the importance of planning, designing, and installing safe infrastructure for all modes of transportation. We look forward to continuing to work with Macon-Bibb County to implement this policy and improve multi-modal options and connectivity across our city!”

 

The new Complete Streets ordinance identifies design standards that “maximize design flexibility and innovation,” including the National Association of City Transportation Officials Urban Street Design Guide and Urban Bikeway Design Guide, the Georgia Department of Transportation Complete Streets Policy, and other sources. It also establishes a Complete Streets Compliance Committee, with seats designated for Bike Walk Macon and U Create Macon board members.

 

Georgia Bikes Executive Director Elliott Caldwell said the organization supported Bike Walk Macon on the new policy and he thanks Caila Brown for her work on the policy during her time with Georgia Bikes, Voices for Healthy Kids (collaborative initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association), and the National Complete Streets Coalition for their support early on in the policy development.

New 3-Foot Passing Law, passed in last legislative session, goes into effect July 1

When Georgia’s “3-foot passing law,” was passed by the Georgia General Assembly in 2011, it codified 3 feet as the minimum safe distance for overtaking or following a cyclist. In the intervening years Georgia Bikes has produced campaigns to educate the public about the law and its safety benefits. In addition, Georgia Bikes’ training programs have been updated to include information so that bicyclists, drivers, law enforcement, and others will better understand and apply the law.

 

Still, some parts of the law were difficult to convey to the public and proved problematic in court cases, especially the language that suggested drivers allow 3 feet or wait to pass only when doing so was “feasible.”

 

New language included in HB 353 — sponsored by Representative Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth, District 25), Representative Angelika Kausche (D-Johns Creek, District 50), Representative Charles Martin (R-Alpharetta, District 49), Representative Teri Anulewicz (D-Smyrna, District 42), Representative Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta, District 81), Representative  Marcus Wiedower (R-Watkinsville, District 119), and carried in the Senate by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell, District 56) — removes the word “feasible” and specifically defines motorists’ ability to move into the adjacent lane to pass, a component of other “slower moving vehicle” laws, that was absent from the 3-foot passing law.

 

“After years of trying to get improvements to our 3-foot passing law, we are thrilled to finally see an update to the law that well improve safety for bicyclists while giving clearer instructions to drivers,” said Georgia Bikes Executive Director Elliott Caldwell. “A huge thanks to our bill sponsors, especially Rep. Jones who worked diligently on the bill and spoke for it eloquently and forcefully, Sen. Albers for carrying it through the Senate, and a special thanks to Rep. Anulewicz for stepping in to help in crucial moment during its journey.”

 

The improved law was Georgia Bikes’ top legislative priority for this year’s legislative session and the organization’s staff worked with Bike Law Georgia on the technical legal aspects of the new policy. The new law, which will become effective July 1, also specifies that a driver must reduce speed to 25 mph or 10 mph below the posted speed limit, whichever is greater, if they are passing a cyclist in a shared lane. It also specifies that, “Any violation of this Code section shall be a misdemeanor punished by a fine of not more than $250.00.”

Governor’s Office of Highway Safety “Capital to Coast” events focus on cycling safety

The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety has launched a new public awareness campaign for National Bike Month 2021. To kick off this effort in Georgia, GOHS will be debuting “Capital to Coast 2021” May 3-7. The inaugural launch of this campaign will include a five-city educational tour, in cooperation with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, BikeAthens, Bike Walk Macon, Bike Walk Savannah, Bike Walk Golden Isles, and Georgia Bikes.

According to GOHS, “In 2019, 846 cyclists were killed in traffic crashes across America and 20 of those deaths occurred in Georgia. In fact, preliminary data from the Georgia Department of Transportation shows Georgia’s cyclist fatalities increased to 28 in 2020.”

To help decrease these numbers, the Capital to Coast 2021 tour will focus on issues like helmet use, the “3 Feet Law,” tips for both motorists and cyclists. Read more about Capital to Coast on the GOHS website.