I just returned from an energizing, whirwind tour of Columbus, GA. It was my first visit to the city, and I was very impressed at their bicycle accomplishments. Columbus is well on its way to being a major bicycling destination in the state!
First, I met with Julio Portillo, a planner at the River Valley Regional Commission. He drove me around Columbus, showing off the city’s exciting, brand new, 11-mile rail-trail, the Fall Line Trace. This beautifully designed multi-use path connects Columbus State University, neighborhoods, and the very bike-ped friendly downtown business district with the equally impressive Colmbus Riverwalk, a 12-mile multi-use path that runs along the broad, picturesque Chattahoochee River. The Riverwalk leads to Fort Benning, where, I am told, area recreational cyclists can ride a safe, 100-mile, nearly traffic free loop! For many in Columbus, you can literally ride from your driveway to run errands, get in a pleasant family ride, or burn some serious calories and get in training miles. That’s connectivity!
Friday evening, I met with an enthusiastic group of local advocates in a private room over Ride On Bikes, a great bike shop and a strong supporter of bicycle advocacy in the area. Over dinner, we discussed the value of having a strong local advocacy organization and strategies for getting one started in the next few months. It was a committed, energetic group, and Columbus will surely boast one of the state’s strongest advocacy organizations in no time at all. To keep up with Columbus bike advocacy efforts, check out the Bicycle Columbus Georgia blog.
Saturday morning, I rode with an all-ages group of cyclists on the Riverwalk out to the Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center, where the RVRC was hosting a community bicycle festival and bike rodeo for kids. Free helmets were given out, people were testing out the bike racks on Colmbus city buses, and I spoke to the crowd about Georgia Bikes’ programs, accomplishments, and resources for local advocates. Too soon, I was back on the Riverwalk and then headed back to northeast Georgia.
My sincerest thanks to my generous hosts in Columbus. I was happily surprised at the great energy and truly impressive accomplishments for safe bicycling conditions in Columbus. I’m looking forward to my next visit, and to seeing the emergence of another strong local advocacy group in Georgia!