State Rep. Doug McKillip (R – Athens) has introduced two pieces of legislation this year concerning bicycles: a “better bicycling bill,” which will bring Georgia’s laws up to date on a range of cycling issues, and a “sidewalk cycling” bill.
Georgia Bikes! is very appreciative of Rep McKillip’s interest in and advocacy for improved bicycle safety. Nevertheless, we must convey our reservations about the encouragement of bicycling on sidewalks. Though it may seem counter-intuitive to non-cyclists or casual riders, bicycling on the sidewalk is demonstrably less safe. For those under 12 and for the elderly, sidewalk cycling may be a safer option than on-road cycling in certain conditions, but overall, cyclists are much safer riding predictably on the road and with the flow of motor vehicle traffic.
Georgia Bikes! is also concerned that allowing communities to permit sidewalk bicycling will eliminate opportunities for creating truly safe, dedicated bicycle infrastructure. It’s easy to imagine communities adopting a “Well, they can just ride on the sidewalk” mentality when local advocates push for bicycle accommodations. At root, McKillip’s sidewalk cycling bill addresses a very real issue: in many areas, Georgia’s transportation infrastructure does not adequately or safely accommodate multiple modes of transportation, including walking and biking.
Rather than push for allowing bicycles on facilities designed for pedestrian travel, Georgia Bikes! hopes the legislature will instead adopt a more comprehensive view of transportation in the state, one which create safe and accessible facilities for a range of public road users.
More coverage from the Florida Times-Union.