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, September 29, 2008

Privatized roads - follow up in CL

Creative Loafing further explores Sonny Perdue's in-progress trip to Europe, where he is meeting with reps from a road-privatization company. See our earlier post for links to more information.

Excerpts from CL:

Road privatization is a cause celebre for free-market idealists who argue everything government can do, private enterprise can do better. Private roads have long been common in Asia and Europe, and are gaining traction in the United States.

In such a deal, a private company pays the state – sometimes billions of dollars – to take control of an existing road or to build a new one in a congested area. The company agrees to maintain the road, often for as long as 99 years. In exchange, it reaps the revenue from drivers, and in many cases, sets the tolls.


The fine print of privatization contracts usually includes noncompete clauses, dictating for example that a government can't build another road or transit system nearby to compete with the toll road. Georgia Motor Trucking Association lobbyist Ed Crowell says some lawyers in Indiana have opined that merely resurfacing a nearby road could be considered "competition."

And with Georgia's newfound focus on rail projects – the "Brain Train" commuter rail, the Beltline, a high-speed line to Chattanooga – the state could find itself in a similar spot to Indiana's should it not vet the contract.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hearings for new transit plan

Athens Transit will host public hearing Oct. 15 and 29 to take comments as it revises its five-year transit development plan.

The plan update will assess the operations of Athens Transit to ensure that the system meets the needs of the community. Comments are welcome about routes, schedules and transit amenities.

The hearings will be held from 3-4:30 p.m. and 6-7:30 p.m. Oct. 15 and 29 at the Athens-Clarke County Library, 2025 Baxter St.

For more information, call Athens Transit at (706) 613-3430.

Link to story.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

BikeUGA student org forming

New Student Organization: BikeUGA

Organizational meeting on 9/30, 5-6 pm @
B116 Life Sciences Building, UGA campus

See the flyer (pdf) and come check us out!

Privatized roads in Ga's future?

Creative Loafing reports on Gov. Perdue's upcoming trip to Europe (9/27-10/3), where he will "meet with executives from Cintra, a Spanish company considered a global leader in privatized roads."
From the official press release, Perdue says:
Europe has some of the world’s most innovative ideas on financing transportation infrastructure. We will see some of these ideas first-hand in order to understand what approaches could be used here in Georgia.
Before he gets all fired up to privatize public infrastructure, Perdue should take another look at the other innovative ideas on transportation that Europe has developed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Kids plea for bus stop on Timothy Rd

The following letter to the editor was published in the ABH today:

Dear editor of the Athens Banner-Herald: Hi. We are third-graders at Timothy Road Elementary School. We are writing because we need a city bus stop in front of our school. There are a lot of events at Timothy that require parents to come. Without a city bus stop, some parents can't come. Sometimes their cars break down or they might not have a car. They might not have any money for gas.

If parents didn't come, then kids would be heartbroken. Kids also feel embarrassed when parents can't come because they don't have gas money or a car. If kids are sad and embarrassed, then they can't learn. Please help us learn by writing to the commissioners of Athens to convince them to put a city bus stop in front of Timothy. Please contact our school counselor, Ms. Saundra Arnold-Smith, if you have any questions.

Thank you for helping us.

Christopher Dellaria

Sylvia Primm

Brian Lee

• The writers are students in Kari Speakman's third-grade class.

It doesn't get more direct than that. Funding transit and providing a full range of transportation choices is fundamentally a social justice issue.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gas shortages in NE Georgia, Transit ads

ABH reports.


Gas should be available across the Southeast in the next week, once Gulf Coast refineries resume normal production levels, analysts say. The storm, which struck the Texas coast 10 days ago, caused less damage to refineries than feared, but some refiners still are working to get electricity restored and their equipment restarted - a process that can take several days.

For now, the major pipelines that deliver fuel to many parts of the eastern U.S. are ready for shipments - the supplies just aren't available.

Meanwhile, it's likely that gasoline will get more expensive in short order following a $20-per-barrel spike in the price of oil Monday.

Although officials are working to reassure drivers, area convenience store owners and their customers were finding it hard to stay calm when so many gas pumps are out of service.

Also, the Commission has decided to proceed with a tentative ads-on-buses revenue generating program. This has the potential to greatly stabilize and boost local transit funding.

BikeAthens commends the Commission's commitment to exploring funding for transit expansion!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fatal bicycle accident

Very depressing news from the ABH:

A 25-year-old Athens man died Thursday from injuries he suffered last week when a sport utility vehicle hit his bicycle in southern Clarke County.

Brandon D. Miller was biking on Macon Highway at about 11:30 p.m. Sept. 11 when a man driving a Chevrolet Tahoe turned from Macon Highway onto South Lumpkin Street and collided with Miller’s bike, Athens-Clarke police said.

The impact threw the cyclist onto the SUV’s hood and then onto the ground, police said.

Miller was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital, police said, and he died on Thursday.

Police noted that Miller’s bicycle wasn’t equipped with lights, but said an investigation was continuing.

It could not be immediately learned this morning if the investigation had been completed.

Our deepest condolences to this young man's family.

Pay attention, be visible, be aware, and be safe out there.

Rewards for carpooling at ARMC

ABH reports that Athens Regional is providing incentives for employees who carpool.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

not quite rock bottom

The League of American Bicyclists, a national bike advocacy group, has published their ranking of states, based on their commitment to supporting cycling as a safe & effective form of transportation and recreation.

The League of American Bicyclists has announced our first annual ranking of Bicycle Friendly States, scoring all 50 states on more than 70 factors. The states were scored on responses to a questionnaire evaluating their commitment to bicycling and covering 6 key areas: legislation; policies and programs; infrastructure; education and encouragement; evaluation and planning; and enforcement. The highest and lowest scoring states overall were:

Top 5

1. Washington
2. Wisconsin
3. Arizona
4. Oregon
5. Minnesota

Bottom 5

46. North Dakota
47. Mississippi
48. Alabama
49. Georgia
50. West Virginia

Way to be, Georgia! We're not the absolute worst! Good grief.

While this ranking is probably accurate for the state overall, our happy town is making some decent headway toward being friendlier and safer for all modes of transportation, including bicycles.

Obviously, plenty of work remains to be done!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Transportation news a-plenty in Flagpole

The Flagpole that hit the streets today is chock full of transportation-related articles: get up to speed on downtown parking rates, the Pulaski Creek Greenway, and plans for a downtown parking deck next to the Georgia Theatre.

There's also a humbly submitted comment piece by yours truly on sharing the streets. Enjoy!

Getting closer to ad revenue for transit

See today's article in ABH.

Four Athens-Clarke commissioners said Tuesday they want to experiment with the ads within limits, hoping they'll bring in revenue to market Athens Transit or add more bus service.

"We're going to try this," Commissioner Carl Jordan said. "We can reverse direction at any time."

County officials had said they were concerned about free-speech lawsuits if they rejected an ad because of its offensive content, but by only selling ads to commercial entities and banning all political ads, the county can protect itself from lawsuits, county Attorney Bill Berryman said.

If officials allowed some nonprofit advocacy [link added]or political groups to run ads, they'd have to allow all of them, Berryman said.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Take the Transit Survey

GCA, Inc. has been contracted by Athens Transit to obtain feedback from the public on Athens Transit services and rider attitudes. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey:

Fillable PDF form of survey

When complete, return the survey to:

Ellen Keys Shellabarger
Director of Planning
GCA, Inc.
1800 Peachtree St., Suite 825
404.355.0604 (f)

Thank you! Your feedback will help local planners and elected officials understand the demand for expanded transit service in Athens.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bus news

Flagpole's got a couple of bus-related stories this week in "City Pages."

Go here, then scroll to the 2nd and 3rd articles, about night service and more art shelters, respectively.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Increased parking fees for downtown discussed

From today's ABH:
The Athens Downtown Development Authority will ask the Athens-Clarke Commission to raise parking fees and fines to encourage drivers to turn over on-street spaces more quickly or to use downtown decks, as well as generate more revenue for the ADDA.
Full story.

Award for Multi-Modal Center!

Monday, September 8, 2008

New Rail-Trail/Greenway in Athens!

Great news in the ABH today!

Athens-Clarke officials are beginning to plan a new park and trail north of downtown Athens.

The $1 million Pulaski Creek Greenway would link the Athens Community Council on Aging, the Bethel Midtown Village housing project and the Pulaski Heights and Newtown neighborhoods, the Denney Tower retirement home, Lay Park and the North Oconee River Greenway.

"It gets into all the interconnectivity we've been talking about for years," said Kent Kilpatrick, interim director of the Athens-Clarke Leisure Services Department.

Officials will show preliminary plans to the Athens-Clarke Commission at a Tuesday work session and to the public Thursday at a 5:30 p.m. drop-in hearing at the council on aging. They call for a small park near the council on aging's Hoyt Street building and a trail running north along an unused railroad connecting to the North Oconee River Greenway near the College Avenue bridge crossing the river.

Monday, September 1, 2008

California sets an example

Good news from the west coast: pending legislative efforts to curb sprawl and greenhouse gas emissions.
From the NYT:

SAN FRANCISCO — California, known for its far-ranging suburbs and jam-packed traffic, is close to adopting a law intended to slow the increase in emissions of heat-trapping gases by encouraging housing close to job sites, rail lines and bus stops to shorten the time people spend in their cars.

The measure, which the State Assembly passed on Monday and awaits final approval by the Senate, would be the nation’s most comprehensive effort to reduce sprawl. It would loosely tie tens of billions of dollars in state and federal transportation subsidies to cities’ and counties’ compliance with efforts to slow the inexorable increase in driving. The goal is to encourage housing near current development and to reduce commutes to work.

OK, Sonny. You said you were committed to fixing GA's traffic congestion crisis. Are we gonna have more of the same, or are we gonna get on board with real solutions?