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.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Clarke applies for sidewalk improvement grants

"Athens-Clarke County is going after a half-million-dollar state grant to make Athens students' walk to school safer," reports the Banner-Herald.
The improvements would include crosswalk countdown timers that show pedestrians how many seconds are left until the light changes, school zone beacons that display cars' speeds to discourage drivers from speeding, upgraded crosswalks and better signs.

Committees of Clarke County School District administrators, teachers and parents recommended the seven schools because they're located in areas where children are most likely to walk or ride bicycles to school, district spokesman Mike Wooten said.

The DOT started its Safe Routes to School program in 2005 to offer funding and advice to local governments and school districts on improving safety for children who walk or bike to school.

Athens residents independently formed a volunteer group by the same name [aka Safe Routes Athens] around the same time. Members of the local Safe Routes to School association traipsed all over Clarke County mapping gaps in sidewalks and other areas where traffic might pose a danger to students on foot.


Some commissioners said last Thursday that they were irked at the officials who wrote a document for the commission to approve because it did not give enough credit to the citizen Safe Routes for School group.

"We ask that citizens partner with us and that should be reflected in the report," Commissioner Andy Herod said.

The oversight wasn't intentional and will be fixed in the version of the document the commission will approve Tuesday, said David Clark, director of the Athens-Clarke Transportation and Public Works Department.

Also not mentioned is the fact that Safe Routes Athens is a sponsored program of BikeAthens.

Hopefully, the approved version of the document will make note of this fact, but overall we're glad the applications will be submitted and hopeful the grants will be awarded so that Athens can implement these important upgrades to pedestrian infrastructure!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

No economic downturn for bicycle manufacturers

Today's AJC (print edition) has an opinion piece on the resilience of bicycle manufacturers in the face of widespread recession.
Interestingly, one of the world industries seemingly not suffering in the current worldwide recession... is the bicycling business.

Top bicycle and bicycle parts makers in Taiwan and Japan are reporting steadily increasing revenues, despite the falling popularity around the world of the bicycle’s four-wheeled cousin.

And while I’m not quite sure that the data support any rush to judgment that commuters are peddling to work in greater numbers, we can at least feel confident that consumer spending on this basic commodity is steady.
Bicycles, then, seem to share an exalted status, along with certain foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals and precious few others, as recession-proof commodities that investors can count as farsighted (read lucky) picks.

low down & dirty

from ABH:

A homeless man told Athens-Clarke police someone took his bicycle and its trailer, containing his clothes and other miscellaneous items, from a restaurant on Oconee Street at the Athens Perimeter.

The man said the thief took his possessions, valued at $1,769, from the Waffle House at 1310 Oconee St. between 9 and 10 p.m. Monday.

I hope he gets his ride back. If not, he needs to contact AAHS to see if he can get one from our Bike Recycling Program.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Transportation choices

I was looking through my pictures and found this one from a 2007 trip to Spain. This is a street in Sevilla, which was also in the midst of constructing a new subway system.

If you ever wondered what we mean by "transportation choices," this is it:

Multimodality from left to right:
1) a road (with as many buses as cars),
2) 2-way bike lanes, separated from motor vehicle traffic by a fence and a painted buffer, and
3) a wide sidewalk, separated from motor vehicle traffic by bike lanes and from bike traffic by a wide, tree-lined area. Crosswalks clearly marked.

This is how you do it.

Athens commissioners talk transit with state officials

From the Flagpole:
Four Athens-area state legislators met with Athens-Clarke County (ACC) Commissioners Nov. 11 to hear the commission’s wish list for items of local interest they’d like the legislature to act on.
All the legislators seemed sympathetic to the county’s desire for a sales tax (subject to voter approval) to fund public transportation, and Mayor Davison said she expects the Legislature to approve some such option this year.
[State Representative Bob] Smith also seemed to have gotten religion about passenger rail. “We created the rail in America, and now we’re lagging in it,” he said, citing “bullet trains” that run in Europe and Japan. A “Brain Train” to Atlanta that runs only 55 miles per hour? “It’d be nice,” Smith said, “but 210’s nicer.”

State considering transit funding options

AJC reports:

Study: How state can invest in transit

Georgia’s shortfall in transportation financing could be solved with a combination of funding, from a new odometer tax to redirecting car registration and parking fees that currently go to general government coffers, a consulting company said Wednesday.

The state Transportation Board heard the findings in a presentation but didn’t formally endorse them. Board members —- and a stream of recent studies —- say the state and Atlanta area are in critical need of new transportation funding. But some members were wary about seeming to endorse any particular tax.

“I don’t want it said of us that we’re advocating, for example, an ad valorem tax,” said board Vice Chairman Larry Walker. “I think a firestorm would go across the state.”

Gov. Sonny Perdue charged the consultant, McKinsey & Co., with making a business case for transportation investment. McKinsey released figures showing Georgia invested less per capita in transportation than all states but Tennessee. He said keeping on that road could cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and $500 billion-plus in economic benefits.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More time to comment on the rail-trail plans

Please submit comments by Nov 28.

Rail-Trail info packet and comment form (.pdf)
More info about the project

Many thanks to Dorothy for the following info:
Review Still Possible, Comments Still Welcome If you missed Tuesday night's public forum for the Rail-Trail Project yesterday afternoon, there is still an opportunity to review plans and displays downtown at City Hall (301 College Avenue). They will be available in Room 101 for the upcoming 10 days (which, due to the Thanksgiving holiday, may actually mean only through Wednesday Nov 26).Comments may still be made via the web by going to and clicking on Public Outreach found on the Information Center dropdown menu. All comments will become a part of the project record. A few of the issues meriting discussion or comment involve the bridge crossings over the North Oconee River and Trail Creek (into and out of Dudley Park). In particular, the project managers would appreciate some public input on the possible fate of the historic Georgia Railroad wooden trestle (sometimes called the "Murmur" trestle, having appeared on an R.E.M. album cover). Among the options that are under consideration for the trestle are a rebuild and adaptive re-use, or a teardown and replacement with a new prefabricated bridge. There may also be some "hybrid" options that have not yet been defined.

Reminder: Sidewalk Improvements meeting

Tonight! 6p – 8pm
Fire Hall # 3 in Five Points

The Department of Transportation and Public Works will be hosting a Community Meeting to receive comments on the FY 09 Sidewalk Improvements Project Concepts.

The Department invites your comment on the following concepts: N. Chase Street - Miles Street to Loop 10 Barnett Shoals Road - Research Drive to Picadilly Square Barnett Shoals Road - College Station Road to Cedar Rock Trace Lumpkin Street - Westlake Drive to Greenwood Drive Whit Davis Road - Shadow Moss Dr. to Cedar Creek Drive.

Buck C. Bacon
Design Engineer / Coordinator
Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County
Department of Transportation and Public Works
Engineering Division
706-613-3468 (fax)

Chainless bikes

CNN reports on the growing use of chainless bike engineering.

Trek Bicycle is part of a movement to bury the finger-pinching, pants-munching, rust-prone sprocket and chain, and usher in an era of belt-driven bikes that might have the inventors of the self-propelled transportation Schwinning in their graves.
The largest U.S. domestic bike manufacturer is hoping to capitalize on a new group of urban pedal-pushers who are trading their cars for a more low-tech way to get around because of gas prices as well as health and environmental concerns.

Aside from the whisper-quiet ride, the lighter and longer-lasting carbon-fiber composite belts won't rust, can't be cut, won't stretch or slip and won't leave grease marks around your ankles. A guard over the belt-drive and the construction of the system makes getting your pants stuck an unlikely scenario.

One version of the chainless bike, called the District ($930), is a single-speed, complete with a silver body, orange accents and brown leather seat and handles. The other, called the Soho ($990), is an eight-speed bike that uses an internal hub to adjust the speed rather than gears.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

FYI! Hearing on Rail-Trail today

The Banner Herald reports:

Athens-Clarke County is close to securing final approval to convert an abandoned East Athens railroad into a trail.

A state-mandated public hearing at 5 p.m. today at the Multimodal Transportation Center on East Broad Street is the final step before the state Department of Transportation releases a $1.2 million federal grant and allows Athens-Clarke officials to begin designing and buying land for the rails-to-trails project.

"We feel very confident this project is going to go forward and be successful," county Natural Resources Administrator Mike Wharton said.

County officials will seek input on plans for the trail, but those familiar with the project shouldn't expect to hear anything new.

If you are not familiar with the plans or if you want to tell the county to keep as much of the Murmur trestle as possible, you should definitely go!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ride with us in the Athens Christmas Parade!

Holiday Heads Up!

We will be an official participant in this year's Christmas Parade downtown.

Bring your decorated bike (reindeer antlers, lights, garland, etc) , your festive holiday gear, and join us for a relaxed cruise through downtown during the Annual Parade of Lights, scheduled for Thursday, December 4th. The parade begins at 7:00 p.m., but parade participants must be at our designated assembly point on Dougherty Street by 5:30 pm.

We hope you'll join us!

Please RSVP brent.buice(at)

Bailing out transit killers

Harvey Wasserman summarizes the gruesome history of how GM put the kibosh on mass transit development.

GM responded to the 1970s gas crisis by handing over the American market to energy-efficient Toyota and Honda.

GM met the rise of the hybrids with "light trucks."

GM built a small electric car, leased a pilot fleet to consumers who loved it, and then forcibly confiscated and trashed them all.

GM now wants to market a $40,000 electric Volt that looks like a cross between a Hummer and a Cadillac and will do nothing to meet the Solartopian needs of a green-powered Earth.

For this alone, GM's managers should never be allowed to make another car, let alone take our tax money to stay in business.

But there is also a trillion-dollar skeleton in GM's closet.

This is the company that murdered our mass transit system.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


From the ABH:

Bicyclist struck while riding on dark road

A Commerce man is in fair but critical condition Wednesday at Athens Regional Medical Center after he was struck by a pickup while riding his bike Tuesday on Georgia Highway 98, according to the Georgia State Patrol's Athens post.

Troopers were called to the scene of the wreck about 5:45 p.m. and found Daniel Hill, 25, of Commerce had been rear-ended by a Ford F-350 pickup traveling behind him on the dark highway near Thurston Williams Road, state patrol operators said.

Hill had been riding his bicycle with no lights or reflectors, troopers said. Neither the driver or Hill was cited, according to the patrol.

Link to story.

Gettin' hot at GDOT

I tried to resist the temptation to post this salacious news, but ... here it is.

That quoted email is thought-provoking, and this is about transportation issues, sort of.

I promise there will be no more posts about sexy emails at GDOT (unless they're really, really good).

Picking the right bike

The Red & Black has a story today about choosing a bicycle for your needs & budget.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Greenway Network Plan

Take a Look & Send In Your Comments

Athens-Clarke County planners are accepting feedback on the Greenway Network Plan, which will determine where and how additional bike/ped paths will be established. Please take a moment to look over the following documents and submit your feedback about the Plan:

Greenway Network Plan (.pdf)

Greenway Network Plan - Zone Map (.pdf)

Greenway Network Plan - Public Comment Form (.doc)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

West side Publix plan needs revisions for bike/ped safety

From Saturday's ABH:

A new westside grocery store, shopping center and subdivision will be delayed after Athens-Clarke officials told developers the plans need changes.

Madison Retail LLC is seeking a rezoning to allow 94,000 square feet of retail space, including a Publix, 81 houses and eight apartments, on 38 acres off Jefferson Road just west of the Athens Perimeter.

Athens-Clarke planners raised dozens of concerns about the proposal, prompting the county planning commission Thursday night to tell developers to revise the plans.

A suburban-style big-box retailer, strip mall and subdivision aren't appropriate for the site, one of the last wooded properties in the area, planners said. The development should be redesigned so it's safer and more convenient for bicyclists and pedestrians, houses should be clustered to preserve green space and a pond on the property should be protected, they said.

About 100 neighborhood residents came to the Athens-Clarke Planning Commission meeting to oppose the development.

It will bring more noise and traffic to the area, they said.

The development also is unnecessary, they said, because the half-vacant Homewood Hills shopping center nearby could be redeveloped, and another developer plans to entice a grocery store to the Oak Grove development near the Clarke-Jackson county line.

The planning commission, an advisory group to the Athens-Clarke Commission, did not make a formal recommendation, but told the developers to revise the plans and resubmit them.

The plans can be resubmitted any time, but planning commissioners said they don't expect to review the project again until January or February.

The developers said in their rezoning application that they intend to start work on the Publix and retail space as soon as the rezoning and building permits are approved, but they'll wait to build the residential portion until the economy improves.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Holiday Bikes for Kids Kickoff

An official announcement from our Bike Recycling Program:

On Thursday, November 27 (Thanksgiving Day), from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, BikeAthens will kick-off its annual Holiday Bikes for Kids project at the Bicycle Recycling Program workshop. The Holiday Bikes for Kids project refurbishes used bicycles for donation to underserved youth in the Athens area.

The sixth annual Holiday Bikes for Kids project seeks to provide a happy holiday season to underprivileged youth by providing them with a quality, fully refurbished bicycle. Bicycles are cleaned, polished and returned to working condition by volunteers and then donated to local agencies and schools for distribution. In the past, BikeAthens has provided bicycles to Fowler Road Elementary , Athens Area Homeless Shelter, Catholic Charities and other social support agencies. Each bicycle is delivered with a new helmet. This year volunteers hope to deliver 50 bicycles.

“I still remember the joy of receiving a new bicycle for Christmas” said Peter Norris, a board member for BikeAthens, “and I hope to pass that joy along.” The project, which started in a small storage shed with a handful of volunteers, has now grown to include dozens of volunteers working twice a week at a workshop in the Chase Street Warehouses. In 2007 the program donated 30 bicycles.

“Many years ago I wanted to volunteer on Thanksgiving day but found that traditional volunteer activities were already booked up. The bicycle project provides another way for folks to volunteer on that day” says Norris. Volunteers do not need any specialized skills as most of the work entails cleaning and polishing. BikeAthens provides all the tools and supplies.

The project will continue to repair bicycles during its regular shop hours; Sundays 2-4 PM and Wednesdays 6-8 PM until the week of Christmas. Individuals seeking to donate bicycles can drop them off at these times. BikeAthens’ bicycle repair shop is located in studio 6 of the Chase Street Warehouse (149 Oneta Street). Additional information and directions available here.

Contact: Peter Norris, 706-543-1574,

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How to emulate Portland

This week, Flagpole columnist Kevan Williams describes a number of ways Athens could follow the lead of Portland, OR in improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. New Commission, take note!

For the rest of us, let's make a concerted effort to tell MACORTS about our desire for this kind of sustainable transportation equality.

In Portland, drivers stop at crosswalks, even without flashing lights and neon bollards. ... It would take a lot of enforcement to ingrain that pedestrians always have the right-of-way here in the South, but the payoff is worth it: it slows everyone down, and puts drivers in a situation where they ought to be looking for pedestrians, instead of driving through and idling in crosswalks while trying to turn.

Certain routes within Portland are designated as bike routes, regardless of the infrastructure in place. Even if there are no bike lanes or “sharrows,” a flat side street could be made an official bike route. Imagine if BikeAthens’ bike map were adopted by the city, and those routes which were good for bicycling were then signed by the city to guide bicyclists.

In Portland, what we would call greenway trails are considered an important transportation network, just like rail and roads. There is a comprehensive system of off-street bicycle trails, in some cases extending miles without crossing a street. These don’t just follow the rivers, but also rail lines, transmission lines, highways and other easements where access is already limited. Most importantly, these routes actually go places, and are fed by on-street bicycle routes in a logical manner.

Bringing It Home: Portland is a city that’s a lot like Athens; it’s not a metropolis of especially tall buildings, and its greatest strength lies in its walkable neighborhoods. Basic services in Portland can be reached by bicycle on a neighborhood scale just as easily as can thousands of workplaces downtown on a citywide scale. The neat thing is that most of it isn’t done through huge infrastructure and park projects; there seems to be a commitment to a bottom-up approach, which focuses on making neighborhoods and side streets safe to walk first, and then builds up into an entire city of cyclists. After all, if people don’t feel safe crossing the street at the end of their block, they won’t be biking across town on a greenway.

Full article here.

Pics from Halloween Courteous Mass

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Greenway Network Plan Public Meeting on Nov. 8

ACC Leisure Services will host a second public meeting regarding the Greenway Network Plan development on Saturday, November 8 at Fire Station #7 on Barnett Shoals Rd. from 10:00-11:30 a.m. For more information, call 706-613-3615 or visit