News, updates, commentary and more from BikeAthens. BikeAthens is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Athens, GA. BikeAthens promotes transportation and land-use policies that improve alternative modes of transportation, including pedestrian, cycling, and public transit options. The mission of our organization is to make alternative transportation a practical, convenient, and safe option for all citizens of Athens-Clarke County.

Monday, February 25, 2008

"Bicycle nomads, Texas utopianism, and the post-petroleum era"

An interesting piece from Orion magazine:
"Send in the Clowns: Bicycle nomads, Texas utopianism, and the post-petroleum era"


GIVEN THE UNSETTLING STATE OF THE WORLD, I’ve spent the last few years shopping around, as it were, for my own little handbasket to ride into hell. In New York City, at Critical Mass rallies and with radical bicycle gangs like Black Label, I’ve begun to discern the contours of a movement of mostly young people who believe that the American pursuit of happiness has taken a decidedly wrong turn somewhere on the interstate and gotten lost among the tract homes dotting the subdivisions of Eden. For the radical few, the bicycle is an important part of the solution. The bicycle, that technological throwback from the nineteenth century, is for them a literal and metaphorical organizing principle for a new vision of the world, one that stands not simply against the most obvious form of petro-consumption, the automobile, but that heralds and celebrates—in advance of its actual arrival, and with bright little bicycle bells and radical cheers—a new, post-petroleum era.
Click the link above for the whole article.

Friday, February 22, 2008

TSPLOST update

A good point was brought to my attention.
While the TSPLOST made it through the Senate, it now must pass Georgia's House, where it will most decidedly meet more opposition.
Please Rep. Heard know that you support the TSPLOST proposal passed by the Senate:

PO Box 5068
Athens, Georgia 30604-5068

706.353.1772 - Home
706.548.7952 - Fax

Long Range Transportation Plan - update

Starting Monday, Feb. 25, MACORTS will be taking public comment regarding a
proposed amendment to the Long Range Transportation Plan. The complete
information will be posted on the MACORTS website ( today.
The comment period will last until March 12, 2008. No public meetings will
be conducted, but MACORTS staff will be available to answer questions via
phone (706-613-3515) via e-mail ( or in person at
the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department.

TSPLOST bill passes the Senate!

A press release from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle:

Cagle: Senate Passage of Transportation Resolution Moves Georgia Forward

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Atlanta, GA – Today, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle applauded the Senate’s passage of the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) resolution which will bring a funding solution to the transportation needs of our state. The resolution passed the Senate 51 to 4.“The Senate’s overwhelming approval today of this resolution will move our state forward by allowing our citizens to decide how they want their transportation dollars spent,” said Lt. Governor Casey Cagle.

The TSPLOST resolution will amend the Georgia Constitution so that as of May 1, 2009 individual counties can voluntarily propose to their citizens a new 1-cent sales tax for transportation projects. Similar to previous SPLOSTs, each proposal is required to list the projects the TSPLOST will pay for, the cost of those projects, and the length of time that the tax will be in effect.

Ninety percent of revenue collected through the TSPLOST will be returned to the participating county or region for projects. At least ten percent of that amount will be used to construct, maintain and operate mass transit within that county or region. The resolution gives the General Assembly a deadline of April 1st to establish a framework by which counties can voluntarily join together into regions and combine their tax for projects of regional significance. This will happen before counties can initiate the TSPLOST.

[Full text of Senate Resolution 845]

I'm ecstatic about this development- BikeAthens has been pushing this for years with our state delegation- but there are some unclear points.

Based on Cagle's press release, 90% of the TSPLOST goes to "projects" while 10% is dedicated to transit construction, operation, & maintenance.

Section 1(i) of the resolution states:
An amount equal to not less than 80 percent of the total amount of proceeds collected shall be expended within the special district on the specific transportation projects. With respect to the remaining proceeds, an amount equal to not less than 20 percent of the total amount of proceeds collected shall be remitted to the Department of Transportation on a monthly basis. [The DOT] shall expend an amount equal to not less than 10 percent of the total amount of proceeds collected solely for the purpose of constructing, operating, and maintaining multicounty or regional mass transit networks within the special district and shall deposit an amount equal to not less than 10 percent of the total amount of proceeds collected in the general fund of the state which proceeds shall be available solely for general transportation purposes as specified by general law.
So, as I read it, we could have a 1% sales tax where 80% of each penny will be used for transportation projects we (a TSPLOST committee?) determine we want, which may include transit improvements (what about bicycle or ped infrastructure?).
After passing through GDOT's hands, natch, 10% of each penny is dedicated solely to building and operating "multicounty or regional mass transit networks," while the remaining 10% stays with GDOT to use at it wishes state-wide (i.e. building roads).

Is that how you read it?

And here's another interesting point from the resolution:
The proceeds of the transportation improvement tax shall not be used to replace existing general funds for transportation needs of the county...but shall be used as an additional revenue source to increase funding for transportation projects.
I've contacted Senator Bill Cowsert for confirmation of my reading above, and I will pass along any information I receive.

Thanks to Sen. Cowsert and the other 53 senators for supporting this long overdue resolution!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Comprehensive Land Use Plan revisions vote tonight!

From our friends in Athens Grow Green Coalition:

The Commission will vote on the revisions to the Comprehensive Land Use
Plan at a special called session on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7 pm. The latest
version of the Plan has not yet been posted on the Planning Web site, but
was included as a large (32 MB) file on the ACC Web site (as a link from
the Agenda).

We have extracted the “Vision Statements, Issues and Opportunities”
section – the portion originally drafted by the citizen subcommittees –
and posted them as a more manageable PDF file on the Grow Green site at

This version reflects the edits made by the Mayor & Commission at work
sessions last week.

Long Range Transportation Plan comment period

Monday opens a public comment opportunity for an amendment to the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), which concerns a proposed new interchange connecting the Loop to the Atlanta Highway.
The interchange is designed to relieve increasing congestion on Mitchell Bridge and Tallassee/Oglethorpe Roads, which cannot be widened. To balance project funds, three other projects are being modified in the LRTP. Information on the amendment will be available here soon.
No public meetings will be held, but comments may be sent online to through March 12.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Augusta takes a look at trolleys

From today's ABH:
| | Story updated at 10:56 PM on Saturday, February 16, 2008

AUGUSTA - Clang, clang.

An enthusiastic Downtown Development Authority could almost hear trolleys coming down the road Thursday after a pitch by a recent college graduate to bring the vehicles back downtown.

"I was hoping, if nothing else, it would get some wheels turning, some thoughts out there," said Ben Skinner, who spent three months planning a 4-mile trolley system snaking through Broad Street, the canal area and the medical district.

He graduated from Clemson University in December with a degree in landscape architecture. The trolley plan was his fall project.

Trolley systems aren't cheap. Skinner's proposal would cost about $175 million, with federal taxpayers kicking in $140 million of it.

The development authority voted Thursday to have one of its committees look at the idea.

Board member Paul King held up the latest issue of the Urban Land Institute's magazine, which proclaims streetcars are back in vogue.

"Bang for the buck-wise, as far as capital investment in downtowns, nothing seems to have the return this has," King said. "I know it goes against some conventional wisdom out there."

Officials pointed to cities such as Portland, Ore.; Little Rock, Ark.; and Tampa, Fla., which have used light-rail systems to drum up urban revitalization efforts.

Tampa's trolley, whose route is based around historic sites, has been "huge" for that city, King said.

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 021608
Athens once had a thriving trolley system- we should have one again. Downtown, Milledge, Lumpkin, and Boulevard all maintained trolley lines (thus the pleasant character of those areas).
I hope we think about re-instating trolleys here, perhaps as part of Athens Transit services. I can easily see trolleys full of students, tourists, and in-town commuters running a circuit around campus and downtown, using those old, trolley-designed neighborhoods. It's more environmentally responsible, it creates community cohesion, and it provides a cheap alternative to folks who can't-or won't- use a car for every 1-5 mile trip they need to make. As noted above in the story, they're also an economic stimulus (I excitedly rode the trolleys in San Francisco and Seattle as a tourist).
Plus, they're just kind of cool looking.

Here are a couple of historical Athens photographs featuring trolleys:

1.Broad St, circa 1900, with a trolley rolling past Jackson:

2. College Ave, 1923

Friday, February 15, 2008

More transit advocacy from UGA

From the Red & Black:
Ten students from the Bulldogs for the Brain Train organization joined about 40 other college students from Emory, Georgia State, Georgia Tech and Mercer to lobby lawmakers for a commuter rail from Athens to Atlanta and Macon to Atlanta that would connect nine colleges and universities.

This was the second year students held the rally on Valentine's Day, said Abby Blaylock, co-founder of Bulldogs for the Brain Train, a student group advocating the construction of the rail from Athens to Atlanta.
Full story.

Way to be, Bulldogs!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Commentary on the Loop Interchange proposal

As for the value of the interchange to the ACC transportation infrastructure, there are some yet-to-be answered questions, particularly regarding the source of funding for the project. BikeAthens has often stood opposed to projects that consume tremendous sums of local transportation funds. Unlike federal funds flowing through GDOT, local transportation funds can be directed to projects at the behest of our own M&C - including bike/ped projects - without GDOT interference, and so are truly prized as the most "flexible" sort of funding, albeit very limited funding.
Jennings Mill Parkway was one example of such a locally-funded project opposed in recent years. BikeAthens favored a two-lane road versus the proposed four-lane road, believing that the four-lane road was overkill for even long-term projected traffic counts, and also because a more reasonable two-lane road would have left significant local funds available for other uses, including sidewalk construction (the four lane design was ultimately approved in an 8:2 vote of the ACC commission).
According to GDOT officials at recent transportation planning meetings, there is a surprising reluctance to put the new Loop interchange project into a GDOT work plan to make it eligible for federal funding, thus, local funding may ultimately be required if the project is to be built. This reluctance on the part of GDOT is not necessarily specific to this project, but is moreof a general blanket policy being put in place by the new GDOT Commissioner - to not add any more roads to the work program at the present time.
$28 M is a significant sum of local funding, and we can think of many other things that the local funds could be used for. On the other hand, we do approve of the elimination of all three of the projects that were scrapped by local planners in order to obtain the $28 M. In addition, there is some very interesting potential for greenspace acquisition that might accompany the purchase of ROW needed for this particular interchange.
Stay tuned .... and weigh in with your own thoughts during the public comment period February 25 - March 12.

Regarding yesterday's Banner-Herald article:
A-C Seeks New Loop Interchange
by Blake Aued 2-13-08
This well-reported story describes plans for a new interchange connecting the Loop to the Atlanta Highway via the existing four-lane dead-end road near Heyward Allen Toyota. The interchange is proposed to relieve increasing congestion on Mitchell Bridge and Tallase/Oglethorpe Roads, which cannot be widened. As the story says, local planners needed to come up with $28 M to fund this project, and to do that made changes to three other existing projects in the transportation plans. The article states:
"Road planners will give up a project that would widen travel lanes and add a center turn lane to South Milledge Avenue between Whitehall and East Campus roads, saving $8 million. They'll scrap wider travel lanes from long-range plans for Jefferson River Road, saving $9 million. .... MACORTS is also drastically cutting back a politically unpopular four-lane road connecting U.S. Highways 29 and 441, instead now wanting to build a two-lane road connecting U.S. 29 to Danielsville road, primarily to serve fire trucks at a new fire station in that neighborhood ..... "
Of interest to bike/ped enthusiasts is that the South Milledge and Jefferson River Road projects both included the construction of bicycle/pedestrian facilities, and although the automobile components of the projects are being scrapped, the bike/ped components will remain intact, meaning that both of these former road-widening projects are now strictly bike/ped projects.
Of interest to the environmental community at large is that a section of planned roadway between Highway 441 (Commerce Road) and U.S. 29 was eliminated. This section of road has in the past been opposed by citizens who were concerned that the road would bisect the Sandy Creek Basin, including Cook's Trail, and cause significant disturbance in a large area of environmentally sensitive wetlands.
The amendment was formally adopted by the MACORTS Policy Committee at their meeting yesterday. There will be a 15-day public comment opportunity on this new interchange beginning February 25. More information on that comment period will be posted next week.

Red & Black: "24-hour transit in University plans"

From today's Red & Black:
Transportation proposals made by both parties running for Student Government Association are already in the works, University Transit mangers say.

The Office Party is campaigning on a plan of extending on-campus transportation to 24 hours.

In recent years, University Transit has planned to implement 24-hour transportation, Chris Baker, assistant manager for operations of University Transit, said.

Starting in fall 2008, on-campus buses will run 24 hours at least Monday through Thursday, in accordance with the dining hall hours, he said.

Full story.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

An amazing initiative in London

This news is the stuff of alt-trans advocates' dreams, especially here in the South.
The Mayor of London today announced the most ambitious programme to transform walking and cycling in London’s history. The package of measures will create a new network of quick, simple, and safe routes for cyclists and pedestrians that will change the profile and priority of walking and cycling on London's streets.

The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said:

"The aim of this programme is nothing short of a cycling and walking transformation in London. We will spend something like £500 million over the next decade on cycling - the biggest investment in cycling in London's history, which will mean that thousands more Londoners can cycle in confidence, on routes that take them quickly and safely to where they want to go."

Wow. Dare to dream, Athens. Dare to dream...

ABH: "A-C seeks new loop interchange"

From today's ABH:

Athens-Clarke officials want the state Department of Transportation to build a new Athens Perimeter interchange in West Athens.

The new interchange would be located off a dead-end, four-lane road near Heyward Allen Toyota, between the Oglethorpe Avenue/Tallassee Road and Atlanta Highway exits. It is intended to take cars off increasingly busy Westside streets like Mitchell Bridge Road and Oglethorpe Avenue that can't be widened, Athens-Clarke transportation planner Sherry Moore said.

"The idea is to relieve some of the congestion on Atlanta Highway and get that traffic on the loop without taxing the surrounding roadways," Moore said.

No money is available for the $28 million interchange, and engineering, right-of-way acquisition or construction won't begin before 2011.

For years, the DOT has planned to rebuild several perimeter interchanges, including ones at Olympic Drive, Lexington Road and Atlanta Highway, to handle increasing traffic.

To pay for the new interchange, MACORTS, a board of officials and residents that oversees state-funded transportation projects in Clarke, Oconee and Madison counties, will scale back plans for three other local projects.

Road planners will give up a project that would widen travel lanes and add a center turn lane to South Milledge Avenue between Whitehall and East Campus roads, saving $8 million. They'll scrap wider travel lanes from long-range plans for Jefferson River Road, saving $9 million.

MACORTS also is drastically cutting back a politically unpopular four-lane road connecting U.S. Highways 29 and 441. Instead, they now want to build a two-lane road connecting U.S. 29 to Danielsville Road, primarily to serve fire trucks at a new fire station in that neighborhood, Moore said. That change will save $11 million.

MACORTS is likely to approve the changes when its policy committee meets this morning. The changes will be open to public comment for 15 days beginning Feb. 25, Moore said.

The DOT also has pushed back $1 million in funding to buy land for an East Athens trail along an abandoned railroad from this year to next year.

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 021308
Commentary to come...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Good news for transit funding

From the ABH, news on the state Capitol's 2008 budget proposals:

[A] series of transportation proposals championed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle will come before the Senate Transportation Committee for the first time today.

Those measures include an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that would allow counties to band together and approve a special-purpose, local-option sales tax for transportation, or T-SPLOST.

Cagle said the new, 1 percent tax would be the best solution for a potential transportation shortfall because it would allow local voters to approve the spending and a list of projects at the same time and would avoid a statewide tax increase.

"This does not force any tax increase on any citizen in this state," Cagle said at a news conference announcing the proposals.

While saying he couldn't speak for the Senate committee considering the measures, Cagle said he thinks the proposals could be before the Senate in relatively short order.

"I expect pretty swift movement on this issue," he said.

BikeAthens volunteers have worked on this issue for a number of years, but the T-SPLOST bills have always died in committee or were otherwise left to whither on some obscure legislative vine. Now, it looks like we may finally get the opportunity to at least locally vote on whether we can levy a $.0025 sales tax on ourselves for transit funding. Based on previous discussions with Athens Transit, a transit-dedicated sales tax would allow for substantial expansion of transit services while also freeing up funds in the general Athens-Clarke budget for other programs.
Let your senators know you support this!

District 46 State Senator:
Bill Cowsert

Capitol Office:

  • Phone: (404) 463-1366
  • Fax: (404) 657-0797

District Office:

P.O. Box 512

Athens, GA 30603

Phone: (706) 543-7700 (O)

(706) 202-3211 (F)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

ABH: "Police weigh charges after man run over, killed"

From today's ABH:
Athens-Clarke police will decide next week whether to file charges in a pre-dawn wreck Wednesday that fatally injured a pedestrian near the University of Georgia's East Campus.
Follow link above for full story.

People-Powered Coalitions

Some encouraging news from California:
The coalition opposing the freeway was impressive in its size and scope. It included environmental groups from across California, and city governments from the San Diego coast.
People-powered coalitions don't just exist in elections - they're all over our state, and the victory over the 241 toll road is a major victory for just that kind of organizing power.
No longer can we look to new roads to solve our transportation problems. For environmental, sustainable, climate, and even fiscal reasons, mass transit, particularly rail, is where we need to be investing for our future - not a toll road that will struggle to stay financially viable and see steadily decreasing traffic as peak oil sets in.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Georgia Rides to the Capitol 2008

From a friend of BikeAthens:
The "Georgia Rides To The Capitol" website has been updated with 2008 event
information. REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN TOO. Registration is free and also
entitles the first 2,000 participants to a free light lunch at the event.
Please see:


Executive Director

Public Affairs Officer, Southern Bicycle League
Event Director, Georgia Rides To The Capitol 2008

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bikes on GPB

From Board member Peter Norris:
In case you missed this week's episode of Georgia Outdoors (GPB),
it was entirely about bicycling in Georgia and included segments on ABC
a streamed version should be posted shortly at

Monday, February 4, 2008

Bike Recycling Program in the news

Our efforts from the MLK Jr. Day of Service are featured in the
current issue of Columns, UGA's faculty/staff newspaper:

"Growing Sustainably" Report

This evening, Monday February 4th, the participants of the 2007 Environmental Summit (including BikeAthens) will present their report, Growing Sustainably in Athens-Clarke County V, at the Federation of Neighborhoods monthly meeting, 7:30 pm, Presbyterian Student Center.
The Growing Sustainably V report is the joint effort of 18 local environmentally-concerned citizens' organizations. It is a progress report with recommendations, designed specifically to assist the Mayor and Commission in making informed decisions about growth and development issues in our community. There will be a panel of participants discussing some of the major environmental accomplishments of 2007 and the issues that will have the highest priority for 2008 action.
Organizations participating in the Environmental Summit 2007 included:
Athens Grow Green Coalition
Athens Land Trust
Athens-Clarke County Community Tree Council
Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation, Inc.
Clean Air Athens
Emerging Green Builders, Athens Chapter (formerly SEEDS)
Georgia River Network
Joseph LeConte Group of the Sierra Club
Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful
Micah's Mission
Northeast Georgia Children's Environmental Health Coalition
Oconee River Land Trust
Oconee Rivers Audubon Society
Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission
Promoting Local Agriculture and Cultural Experience (PLACE)
Sandy Creek Nature Center, Inc.
Upper Oconee Watershed Network

Friday, February 1, 2008

BRP scoping for new home

If you know of any workshop/warehouse space that could accommodate our Bike Recycling Program, please let me know.
Our current lodgings are somewhat precarious.
Definitely, we need:
  • ~1500-2000 sq feet
  • Close proximity to downtown/campus
  • Electricity
  • Bathroom
  • Rent from $250-500/mo
Ideally, we'd like:
  • CHAC
  • Loading dock/area
  • Covered secure storage
So, if you know of (or have) anything that might work for us, drop me a line.

"Global warming real"

From a story in today's ABH:

Devastating forest fires. Atlanta as hot as Houston. Permanent drought.
Those are a few of the effects of global warming Georgians will feel if the United States doesn't act fast to slow down the carbon emissions that heat up the globe's climate, University of Georgia ecologist James Porter said Thursday.
"These things are coming. These things are coming fast," said Porter, one of the key speakers at the Athens session of Focus the Nation, a nationwide teach-in on global warming held at UGA and about 1,000 other U.S. colleges and schools Thursday. "This is physics. This is not politics."


Just practicing energy conservation would cut U.S. energy consumption by 25 percent, he said. Fuel-efficient cars, more public transportation, full recycling, family planning to curtail population growth and more energy-efficient food production also are important, he said.
I would add that development and zoning practices that encourage density are equally important. Walk-able, bike-able communities, dotted with parks, are not only more pleasant, but certainly more sane, considering the climactic prognosis. Plus, this type of dense development is far more amenable to effective public transit.