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.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Athens reels 'em in

According to new population estimates out of the U.S. Census Bureau, Athens "is the second fastest-growing city of more than 75,000 in the state," adding nearly 12,500 residents to the incorporated metro area since 2000.

The growth in Athens and Atlanta reflects a national trend, said Jeff Dufresne, executive director of Atlanta's Urban Land Institute. Atlanta and many other central cities lost population from the 1960s up to the 1990s, but now people are moving back to avoid traffic hassles, and to be closer to jobs and urban amenities, he said.

But "Athens has done a lot of good things in the last 25 years," Dufresne said, citing bike paths and National Trust for Historic Preservation revitalization programs.

Watkinsville, too, has seen some astronomical growth in this same period:

Though Athens' growth is impressive compared to other large Georgia cities, the city's population increase pales in comparison to growth in many smaller towns in Northeast Georgia.

In fast-growing Jackson County, Braselton (which also straddles Hall, Barrow and Gwinnett counties) more than doubled and Watkinsville grew by nearly 35 percent, according to the estimates.

[Watkinsville Mayor Jim] Luken said two major factors driving the town's growth are the Oconee County school system and quality of life.

"You can walk to downtown like they did 100 years ago" from many parts of town, Luken said.

Full story from the ABH here.

With more people coming to enjoy Athens' many amenities, and oil definitively on its way out as our means for powering society, we ought to carefully consider and manage our future growth and transportation infrastructure. We need transportation choices, networking a localized economy that does not rely on the whims & chance of increasingly volatile energy markets.

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