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, December 22, 2008

Response from the Gov's office

I received a reply to my "open letter," which was sent to Gov. Perdue, state reps & senators, and GDOT:

Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts about ways to improve Georgia's transportation system. I welcome your input in this process.

As you well know, we have much to do as a state to meet our growth-related challenges of air quality and traffic congestion. Higher gas prices have changed the economics of commuting in favor of new alternatives. As we did in education, we will transform the way we look at transportation from counting how much money we spend to an outcomes-based investment strategy to ensure we create a 21st century transportation network throughout the state.

For this reason, I'm proud to announce Investing in Tomorrow's Transportation Today (IT3). IT3 is designed to bring the Department of Transportation (DOT), Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA), the General Assembly, local partners and the executive branch together to formulate strategies that will improve transportation infrastructure throughout the state.

Among these strategies is a plan to extend the commuter rail from Lovejoy to Griffin. After looking at the operational costs that I've seen, it makes sense to go all the way to Griffin using this pilot program. We are currently working diligently with local governments and environmental agencies to secure permits and their participation. The success of the GRTA Xpress Bus has been an indicator that suburban-to-metro transit is plausible. I believe with standing room only on buses and gas at four dollars a gallon, we need more transportation options. This proposed commuter rail, as well as the addition of more Xpress buses, would alleviate some of the traffic problems that have been problematic for years.

GRTA and DOT are the state agencies spearheading our efforts to develop transportation alternatives forGeorgia. Therefore, I encourage you to voice your concerns with Richard Anderson, GRTA's Executive Director, and Dr. Gena Evans, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation. You may also contact their offices directly:

Georgia Regional Transportation Authority

245 Peachtree Center Avenue, NE, Suite 900

Atlanta, Georgia 30303


Georgia Department of Transportation

600 West Peachtree Street, Suite 2210

Atlanta, Georgia 30306


Additionally, you may also wish to contact your state elected officials. The members of the General Assembly in your district can actually sponsor or vote on legislation on your behalf. Should you need their contact information, it is available from your county board of voter registration.

50 kids bikes delivered to local agencies

Just in time for the holidays, our Bike Recycling Program has refurbished and delivered
fifty children’s bicycles to a number of Athens area social service agencies. Dozens of generous donors have dropped off children’s bicycles, many of which have been in basements for years. Volunteers met three times a week at the Bike Recycling workshop in the Chase Street warehouses to clean, repair, and test ride each bicycle.

Every bike has been delivered with a brand new helmet as well.

Bicycles and helmets were delivered to the following agencies:

• 23 bikes to Fowler Elementary
• 14 to CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)
• 2 to Project Safe
• 2 to Open Hearts
• 2 bikes for St Vincent DePaul
• 2 for Athens Land Trust
• 3 kids bikes and 3 adult bicycles for the Athens Area Homeless Shelter
• Plus, a handful of extra children’s bikes for other agencies

“We never would have succeeded without the overwhelming generosity of the community,” said
Bike Recycling Program co‐manager Jason Perry.

“We received so many donations‐‐from kids, from adults, from organizations‐‐that we struggled to keep them from piling up. And of course our volunteers really made things happen: many of the bikes only needed a little cleaning and a tune‐up, but often we were doing major overhauls on bikes that started out looking like scrap metal. The results were amazing.”

In 2009, the Bike Recycling Program hopes to locate a larger, more comfortable work space as well as a dedicated contingent of new volunteers to assist with ongoing efforts to refurbish adult bicycles. Donations poured in this fall, and the Chase Street workshop is brimming with bikes in need of repair.

Volunteers can stop by the workshop on Wednesday evenings from 6:00 – 8:30 PM and on Sunday afternoons from 2:00‐4:30 PM. Program managers also hope to expand the shop hours to Monday evenings in the new year. For more about the program and directions to the shop, visit

Many thanks to all the volunteers and donors who made this possible!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Transportation Sec nominee

Ray LaHood, nominee for an important cabinet position, is being discussed.

from the inbox...
This came across the Thunderhead list. Sounds like La Hood
should be a positive choice for bicyclists. As was mentioned before,
he is a big supporter of funding Transportation Enhancements and CMAQ,
which have been critical for bike/ped in my state. It also sounds
like he is favorable towards Complete Streets.

Eric Rogers
Board of Directors, Missouri Bicycle Federation


Dear Thunderhead members,

Please pardon the length of this post, but I want to provide
information on our incoming USDOT Secretary, Ray LaHood, a moderate
Republican Congressman from central Illinois who was retiring from his
seat this year. In summary, he's been great for us! He is an active
supporter of bicycling and trails, and he has very visibly gone
against the wishes of his party leaders on our issues:

In a letter dated April 28, 1997, LaHood joined 5 other Republican
House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee members in expressing
support for both Enhancements and CMAQ to the committee chair, Bud
Schuster. He also spoke to the Illinois Valley Wheelm'n bicycle club
about his support of both of these funding sources, which he said
"have provided many benefits to the environment and local communities
(e.g., bicycle and recreational trails). I believe in the importance
and value of these programs." Congressman LaHood's leadership was
pivotal in ensuring that Enhancements would continue in TEA-21 (1998).

On July 11, 2003, a House Appropriations Subcommittee, led by Rep.
Istook (R-OK), passed a fiscal year 2004 transportation budget that
redirected the $600 million slated for Transportation Enhancements to
highway construction. Zeroing out TE threatened it not only for that
year, but for the reauthorization bill that became SAFETEA-LU. An
effort to restore dedicated Enhancements funding barely failed in full
committee, where LaHood was one of only two R's voting for it. In a
tremendous and powerful 327-90 victory that solidified TE's status, a
bi-partisan amendment won 327-90 on the House floor. LaHood stood up
impressively to make a floor statement in support:


Ray LaHood's House floor statement, September 2, 2003:

"Mr. Chairman, I am a member of the Committee on Appropriations, and
I think I am one of two members on our side who voted to support this
effort to restore this program the way that it has existed for several
years. I know it is probably not fashionable for me to be up here
talking in favor of this amendment, but I feel strongly about it. I am
a jogger. I have been a jogger for almost 30 years. I have taken full
advantage of the Rails to Trails Program that exists in my
congressional district and other parts of Illinois. I think it is a
marvelous program. We have promoted around here a new caucus that has
been formed by the Members to get Members to exercise more, to get
Members to stay in shape. Part of the way that some of us do it is
disembark from the Rayburn Building and jog down the Mall. It is not
really a Rails to Trails, but it is a marvelous place to jog."

"You see people jogging all over this part of the country. You see
people jogging along the parkway from Old Town all the way down to
where George Washington once lived. These are Rails to Trails. These
are opportunities for people that would not have existed without this
program. The last thing I want to do is to turn this program over to
the Governor of my State. Every State in the country has a deficit. I
guarantee you what these Governors will do is not turn this money into
Rails to Trails or other amenities or other enhancements. They will
use it to fund other things."

"We have got a $5 billion debt in Illinois. We have got a Governor
who has been in office now 6 months, a new Governor, who has not been
able to figure out how to do that. But I guarantee you that if you
hand him a bag of money from the enhancements, from the Rails to
Trails, he will find other uses for it. As we are encouraging people
all over the country to exercise, to be fit, to eat right, to exercise
and to do things that will continue to make people healthy, there is
no better way to do it than to have this program. I am encouraging
Members to support this amendment. This is a good program. It is a
program that works. It is not broke."

"I want to, too, mention what the gentleman from Oregon talked
about, the whole issue of obesity. There has been more written about
obesity in the last 6 months or so or last year. If we really want
Americans to be fit and healthy and get in good shape, the way to do
it is to allow for the enhancement program that has worked so well,
that allows people to get outdoors, to ride their bikes, to jog, to
walk. What better way to bring people in a community together. This
program has been a marvelous program. We should not change it. It is a
program that works. It is not broke. I encourage Members to support
the amendment and continue the fine program we have had."


Other items:
- In the SAFETEA-LU legislation, he pushed for higher funding levels
for our programs and earmarked $670K for two major trail projects in
his district
- At the 2004 Bike Summit, we presented him a certificate of
appreciation, in person. I vaguely recall that he seemed in favor of
routine accommodation (Complete Streets), an opinion reiterated by his
transportation staffer at the 2008 Summit.

I think we should all be pleased by Rep. LaHood's selection.

- Ed

Ed Barsotti
Executive Director
League of Illinois Bicyclists
2550 Cheshire Dr.
Aurora, IL 60504
So... he's possibly pro-bike but anti-transit.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Whites and bikes

Funny stuff from

GDOT projects list

Last week, I wrote GDOT and asked them what "ready to go" projects they were submitting should the national infrastructure bailout funds come through.

Below is their response:
Thank you for contacting YOUR Georgia Department of Transportation.

The Georgia Department of Transportation looked at all of the projects that we had out there. We took a thorough look at safety, bridges, intersections, new capacity and maintenance. The biggest driving force in identifying the projects for our list was the 180 day criteria. We identified projects that we considered were ready to go meaning that; environmental approval from FHWA, Right of Way acquisition, designs and plans all would be complete and the project ready to let within 180 days. We had a number of projects that could meet that standard- totaling some $3 billion which we submitted. This is merely a preliminary list and we are still reviewing projects and looking at other considerations before a final decision is made. The Board will also have an active role in our project identification process and intends to solicit input from local governments and our transportation partners as we continue to further develop our list.

December 8, 2008

Aviation $45,344,231 (1.3%)

$1,100,830,000 (32%)

(1.8 %)

GRTA (GA Regional Transportation Authority)

GDOT Roadway Projects (Including Maint.)
$2,205,308,473 (64%)

Commuter Rail
$22,575,000 (0.6%)

Grand Total

Again, we thank you for submitting your inquiry to the Georgia DOT. Please continue to contact us with your comments and questions.


Office of Constituency Services
Georgia DOT
It's good to see that MARTA is receiving the help it needs, but road projects take up nearly 2/3 of this $3+ billion list. Commuter rail and transit are barely recognized, when what we need is a massive infusion of investment in these modes of transportation. We do not need to continue feeding the growth of a failed transportation model.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Parade video

If you want to see footage of our "float" in the Holiday Parade of Lights, check out the video here.
We begin at 18:24 and end at 19:11.

A good outline for that letter you're going to send to Congress

via Streetsblog:

Here's a template op-ed on the Transportation for America coalition's concerns about the shaping of the stimulus bill. This is a VERY critical moment in the debate. We think Congress should:

Conduct the discussions about what gets funded in the open: All states should make public what they are proposing. They should get no blank checks, but should be accountable toward national priorities. Those national priorities should include longterm benefits to the economy, safety, reduced oil dependence and carbon emissions. We should fix what we have before we build new highways.

Obama, Congress Must Back Up Rhetoric on Recovery

Last week President-elect Barack Obama made a promise to the American people and issued a charge to his incoming Administration and the next Congress:

"We won't just throw money at the problem. We'll measure progress by the reforms we make and the results we achieve – by the jobs we create, by the energy we save, by whether America is more competitive in the world." Dec. 6 Radio Address

As to how to achieve this progress, the President-elect proposed to “create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s.”

While the new President is clearly eager to chart a bold and new course to rebuild our economy from day one — and the new Democratic-controlled Congress should be poised to follow his lead — rhetoric alone will not be enough.

Members of Congress are already hard at work writing the stimulus package, reviewing transportation projects and infrastructure requests from states. Disturbingly, though, this is being done behind closed doors, and only a handful of states have made their wish lists public. Those that have are less than encouraging, focusing overwhelmingly on repaving, or worse, expanding highways in an era when people are driving less and transit is seeing surging demand.

Missouri DOT’s wish list, one of the few made public, includes an eye-popping $800 million worth of projects, 95 percent highway projects. This has next to nothing for St. Louis or Kansas City, population centers that surely need more than just highways. Arizona DOT’s list isn’t much better, with less than ten percent of money going to public transportation.

Congress is proposing to distribute stimulus money for infrastructure projects without requiring the usual local match, meaning that federal taxpayers will pick up the full tab. Given that reality, Congress must require transportation agencies to select projects that meet national goals for the future, rather than merely build yesterday’s highway projects.

If American tax dollars are spent the right way, we should get a three-for-one-return on our investment: a revitalized economy well positioned for long-term prosperity; less dependence on oil; and a reduction in climate-damaging emissions.

This is possible if the economic stimulus package the President-elect is expected to sign on day one includes a $100 billion investment to:

· Repair and preserve highways, bridges and existing public transportation service, and support the green jobs associated with this work;

· Build modern rail and rapid bus lines and upgrade all forms of service in cities large and small;

· Develop high-speed and other forms of inter-city rail; and

· Make streets safe for walking and biking.

Such investment will not only move America closer to fulfilling Obama’s vision for a bold, green recovery that will create jobs, reduce our oil consumption, and help America compete and thrive. It also will provide a down payment on a 21st Century transportation mission to build the second half of America’s transportation network, completing the system that began with the national highway system.

While repairing existing roads and bridges is a necessary expenditure, given that the national highway system has been built, federal resources and attention must go toward supporting the cleanest forms of transportation — public transit, high speed rail, walking and biking. The Transportation for America Campaign has identified more than 65 such ready-to-go projects within the next year, requiring over $17B in funding to get going.

Given that the stimulus is meant to fund only ready-to-go projects, states, transit agencies and metropolitan areas should quickly turn around a specific list of which projects will be funded, in an accessible and transparent manner. Tracking systems should also be instituted to provide the public with indicators on the number of jobs created, cost-effectiveness, carbon emissions, fuel use and demand forecasting.

U.S. Senator Harry Reid said earlier this month that the stimulus can allow us to “abandon the baby steps and embrace some great leaps forward” on energy, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added that the recovery is “about innovation and about the future, about building the jobs of the 21st century.”

That change is possible, but only if we put action behind rhetoric. And if we fail, Americans will not see the change the next Congress and Administration were elected on; rather, they will see more of the same.

David Goldberg
Communications Director
Transportation for America
office/mobile (202) 412-7930

To find out who your elected officials are, visit

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The bailout: Athens area projects announced

The Athens-Clarke County government has unveiled its list of "ready to go" projects, should Congress pass Barack Obama's proposed bailout plan for national infrastructure:
Athens-Clarke County Manager Alan Reddish said, "This would provide the types of jobs and infrastructure we need in this community and this country." 
Reddish gave the mayors' group a list of 14 projects that are already on the county's books but, in many cases, lack funding. They would cost a total of $23.5 million and create 307 jobs, mostly in construction, he said. The projects include:"Those are projects we think are ready to go within 90 days," Reddish said.
I'm definitely happy to hear that Athens Transit will benefit from these funds if the bailout bill passes, but how long will the funds carry "more frequent" service? Will Athens enjoy a spike in bus availability, only to revert to the current level of service when the bailout funds run dry?

For the first two projects above, how will the intersection be reconfigured and what will be fixed exactly? Will either project incorporate accessibility and safety for transit users, cyclists and pedestrians? Hopefully, more detail will emerge on these projects.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Thanks, REM!!

Dear REM,
You rock! 

With deepest thanks and much love,

Athens Transit driver sets safety record

ATS driver Tommy Handy has been formally recognized for operating city buses in Athens for 30 years without a single accident.

"Thirty years of accident-free driving is almost unheard-of," Athens Transit Director Butch McDuffie said as the transit system prepared to recognize Handy for his three-decade safety record. "I bet there's not a handful of drivers around the country that can say that."
Congratulations on the accomplishment and the deserved recognition, Mr. Handy!

Thanks to you and your colleagues at ATS, riding the buses in Athens is a safe and pleasant experience.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Deep decline in driving

I'm a sucker for alliteration.

AJC relays:

It may not feel like it, but the American road is a lot more open these days.

In a year of historic changes in how we live, the federal government today is expected to announce yet another blockbuster. From November 2007 to October 2008, the U.S. saw the biggest sustained decline in miles driven in recorded history, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

Never before have Americans put the brakes on automotive travel in such a decisive way. Month after month, for an entire year, drivers put fewer miles on the road than they had the year before. It was an unprecedented stretch of highway-driving decline, according to FHWA spokesman Doug Hecox. The agency has been keeping records since 1942.

Vehicles on U.S. roads clocked 100.6 billion fewer miles in the year ending in October than they had traveled the year before, according to a monthly federal report expected today.

Georgians were among those helping drive the trend. Every month, they drove less than they did in that month the previous year. In August —- traditionally a big month for vacations —- Georgians chose to stay off the road by the biggest margin of the year.

In contrast, buses, trains and HOV registries are packed.

State Department of Transportation Commissioner Gena Evans is one of those people who cut down on driving.

After she and her new husband, former state Transportation Board Chairman Mike Evans, saw the rising cost to fill up his Hummer, she started riding mass transit to work in downtown Atlanta much of the time.

Gas prices encouraged the GDOT Commissioner to switch from a Hummer to public transit. No baby steps for Gena Evans!
Let's see if she takes her personal realization and packs that "ready to go" list of state transportation projects with desperately needed mass transit infrastructure (bike paths and sidewalks would be nice stocking stuffers as well).

School Board vote

In last night's school board meeting, the vote was cast to do away with "school choice," meaning that next fall students will attend their neighborhood school, rather than their preferred school.
The district started seriously considering this option back when gas prices were $4+.

After months of deliberation, the Clarke County Board of Education agreed Thursday to do away with school choice and accept a plan that could send up to half of all students to new schools next fall.

Faced with a projected budget shortfall of nearly $6 million over the next two years, board members approved the plan, which could save up to $1.2 million a year in transportation costs, by a unanimous 8-0 vote. Board President Charles Worthy was absent.

The change - which will assign each elementary student to a single school rather than allowing parents to choose from a short list of schools - will ease overcrowding at some schools and encourage more parent involvement, administrators said.

Many parents are understandably upset that their children will change schools, but, from a transportation perspective, this makes far more sense. It will save money and resources and will ultimately create more cohesive neighborhoods.

The Overhead Wire: More Savannah Streetcar

The Overhead Wire: More Savannah Streetcar

I can envision these running through downtown Athens (or Atlanta). They'd be especially welcome on Lumpkin, Baxter, Milledge & Boulevard, and they would draw attention to the more pleasant aspects of Athens' history.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

An open letter to our state legislators

I just sent the following to two of Athens' legislators. I encourage you all to contact them as well. You can find your specific legislators' information here.
Dear Senator Cowsert & Representative Heard,

According to a recent AJC article, Governor Perdue said that "if the federal government sends stimulus money, the state will have projects ready to go." Simultaneously, "Georgia Transportation Commissioner Gena Evans said that the state could have $1 billion worth of projects ready to go in 180 days."

As a state employee, I am keenly aware of the budget woes we face. I am excited about the potential for postive, forward-thinking investment and job creation that this federal assistance could provide.

Our roads and bridges certainly need to be upgraded for public safety, but I am hopeful that a significant portion of this $1 billion will address our state's lagging and inadequate public transit, bicycle, and pedestrian infrastructure.

Governor Perdue has affirmed his commitment to improving Georgia's public transit, as have both of you. I hope the "ready to go" projects list incorporates mass transit projects, which can include design and construction for commuter trains and train stations, as well as the purchase and maintenance of trolleys and buses. Many citizens have already worked tirelessly to implement the long-overdue "Brain Train" from Athens to Atlanta. Federal funds could make convenient rail travel in Georgia a reality.

Likewise, our state needs to reevaluate its commitment to car-based development and car-centric road design. Family-friendly, sustainable communities include safe, networked, and accessible bicycle and pedestrian options. Increased walking and cycling opportunities will reduce traffic, improve air quality, and increase general physical activity, which, in the long run, will reduce the burden on our state's health care providers.
Cities and towns that are walkable and bikeable are widely considered to possess a high quality of life, making those communities desirable destinations for tourists and high tech industries alike.

In short, investing in public transit and other transportation choices will benefit our state in a number of important areas. Please make every effort to direct the General Assembly, the Governor and GDOT to invest in this infrastructure.
If you do decide to write, be sure to include your full name and address so they know you're a bona fide constituent.

Downtown deck and other trans plans running behind

ABH reports on the delays facing the proposed downtown parking deck as well as the Pulaski Greenway and other projects:

A new downtown parking deck, delayed by negotiations with developers to form a public-private partnership, is running two years behind schedule.

Most of the 33 projects in Athens-Clarke County's $122 million of sales tax-funded construction projects are already done or will be completed on time, but the deck is one of a handful that have fallen behind.

If planning and construction went as originally planned, the deck at the corner of West Washington and North Lumpkin streets already would have opened; now it is scheduled to be finished in August 2011.

Nine other sales tax-funded projects - trails along Pulaski Creek and an unused East Athens railroad; police headquarters renovations; a computerized police dispatch and record-keeping system; a bridge to East Athens Community Park; bridge repairs; Solid Waste Department offices; a new Sandy Creek Nature Center wing; and a diversion center - also are running behind, SPLOST program manager Don Martin told commissioners at a work session Tuesday.

The delays are not unusual and are for "very valid reasons" such as negotiating with railroad companies to buy land, Athens-Clarke Manager Alan Reddish said.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stimulus bill details slowly emerge

The AJC reports on announcements made by Gov. Perdue:
Gov. Sonny Perdue told state lawmakers Tuesday that he will propose an “aggressive” package of borrowing to build schools, libraries, roads and other facilities to help stimulate Georgia’s struggling economy.

President-elect Barack Obama has already said he wants Congress to pass a stimulus package to help pay for infrastructure improvements across the country.

Perdue said he’s not preparing his budget plan —- which will be released in mid-January —- with the idea of getting extra federal funding. However, if the federal government sends stimulus money, Perdue said, the state will have projects ready to go.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials reported in October that 3,100 projects totalling more than $18 billion could begin within 90 days with federal funding, and listed Georgia as having $397 million of those projects. Georgia Transportation Commissioner Gena Evans said that the state could have $1 billion worth of projects ready to go in 180 days, as long as the federal government could waive some regulatory requirements and spare the state from coming up with matching funds.

Perdue will make his proposal to lawmakers when they convene for the 2009 session Jan. 12. The House and Senate will then likely add projects to the package.

Before January 12th, tell your state reps & senators to fund more than highway expansion and interstate construction!

Bikes in Africa

An interesting piece from The Economist on bicycle use and culture in Africa.

Thanks to Peter for the heads up.


Groups of concerned cyclists in Europe and America have long shipped containers of used bikes to Africa but this bike aid has yet to roll into a movement with critical mass. Indeed, Africans tend to turn their back on bikes as soon as they can afford anything with an engine. The bike has suffered from the indifference of car-driving rulers. There are hardly any bike paths; few people campaign for pedalling. Cyclists rarely contribute to their own safety. Helmets and reflectors or lights at night are rare. Maintenance is invariably slapdash. Yet, with low purchase and running costs, the humble bike could be a key to mobilising rural Africans and unclogging the cities.

One problem is that few bikes are manufactured in Africa. Some charities customise bikes for rural health workers. A more ambitious plan, led by an American bike-maker, Craig Calfee, and a group of scientists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York, aims to introduce and sell bamboo bikes in Africa.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

About that public works plan

Shocker! David Brooks, notable NYT supporter of bad ideas, argues for investing that massive public works money in transit and a post-suburban living arrangement:

Barack Obama has said that he would start an infrastructure project that will dwarf Dwight Eisenhower’s highway program. If, indeed, we are going to have a once-in-a-half-century infrastructure investment, it would be great if the program would build on today’s emerging patterns.

To take advantage of the growing desire for community, the Obama plan would have to do two things. First, it would have to create new transportation patterns. The old metro design was based on a hub-and-spoke system — a series of highways that converged on an urban core. But in an age of multiple downtown nodes and complicated travel routes, it’s better to have a complex web of roads and rail systems.

Second, the Obama stimulus plan could help localities create suburban town squares. Many communities are trying to build focal points.

Because we’re going to be spending $1 trillion now on existing structures and fading industries, there will be less or nothing in 2010 or 2011 for innovative transport systems, innovative social programs or anything else.

Before the recession hit, we were enjoying a period of urban and suburban innovation. We could have been on the verge of a transportation revolution. It looks as if the Obama infrastructure plan may freeze that change, not fuel it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Parade of Lights pics

UPDATE: we just received word that our float won the "Best Organized Unit - Novelty" award! WOOT!

Special thanks to Amy, Jason, Mike, Peter, Basil, Mary, Michael, Basil, and Eder, and thanks to everyone who rode with us!

Transit use on the rise

Despite cheaper gas prices the past few months, records indicate that transit use in this same period has grown at its fastest pace in 25 years.
Americans rode subways, buses and commuter railroads in record numbers in the third quarter of this year, even as gas prices dropped and unemployment rose. The 6.5 percent jump in transit ridership over the same period last year marks the largest quarterly increase in public transportation ridership in 25 years, according to a survey to be released today by the American Public Transportation Association.

"It's very rare to see when virtually every part of the country and every mode of transit is up," said APTA President William W. Millar. "As other costs in their lives have gone up, Americans are looking for ways to economize, and in most communities, transit is still a bargain."

The trends are likely to boost support for more transit funds in the economic stimulus package that Congress will send to President-elect Barack Obama. With the economy in a recession, Obama pledged Saturday to create the largest public works construction program since the building of the federal interstate highway system in the 1950s.

At a meeting with Obama in Philadelphia last week, governors estimated there were $136 billion in "ready-to-go" projects that go beyond traditional bridge and road repairs to include public transit, water and sewer plants ("Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed the nation needs to invest in infrastructure, particularly high-speed rail. “It’s time we got our act together,” he said.").

Public transportation advocates say investing in transit creates jobs, reduces America's dependence on foreign oil and helps combat climate change.

Full story.

I couldn't locate any details on what Sonny submitted for the "ready-to-go" projects list or where he stood on federal assistance for the states. Let me know if you hear anything.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cautious optimism about "public works"

I hope Sonny and the state gang don't take this initiative for "the largest public works building program since the creation of the interstate highway system" to run hog wild with road widenings, interstate expansion, and other car-centric projects.

Invest that money in necessary safety projects, such as upgrading bridges, but use as much as possible on expanding Georgia's rail, transit, pedestrian, and bicycle infrastructure.

Per the article below, we might be in a calm-before-the-storm moment with gas prices, so we should proceed thoughtfully, especially since this might be our last shot at pouring national capital into something worthwhile.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Downsides to cheap gas

Current gas prices are welcome relief from last summer's rapid spikes, but could the return to $2 gallons signal grim times ahead?

This story from Reuters points in that direction.
Motorists must be glad the price of fuel is one thing they do not have to worry too much about as they face the worst recession since the 1930s, but cheap fuel is not good for anyone in the long run.

Global oil prices have collapsed since July, losing two thirds of their value from a peak of almost $150 a barrel and dragging fuel costs to their lowest levels for several years.

But while low energy costs come as welcome short-term relief to consumers and companies struggling with the financial and economic crisis, longer term they can be bad for everyone.

Low energy prices squeeze investment in the oil industry, reducing future supplies. They discourage energy saving and they destabilize countries dependent on oil exports, making oil in the future more likely to be expensive and even more volatile.

Perhaps most important of all, low energy prices stifle investment in alternative energy, deepening dependence on oil and other hydrocarbons and increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

"In the longer term, today's oil price is too low to support much new supply and will slow the momentum toward alternative fuels, new technology and conservation."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The southern auto industry

A piece from the Christian Science Monitor discusses the rise of non-union auto manufacturing plants in the south, including a Kia plant in West Point, Georgia*.
The US auto industry is throwing bolts, but here in Georgia's Chattahoochee Valley a South Korean car company is building a massive new manufacturing plant along the new Kia Parkway, replacing abandoned textile mills.
The expansion of this "other" auto industry – one that's foreign-owned, nonunion, and based largely in the South – stands in stark contrast to this week's dire reports from America's own Big Three, whose CEOs laid out plans for a dramatic downsizing before traveling to Washington to plead for $34 billion in federal aid.

A prevalent right-to-work philosophy isn't the only reason foreign companies like Toyota have located plants in the South. There's also the proximity to a car-loving region with little mass transit and a population that totals that of the Midwest and New England combined.

* I find it interesting that while West Point, GA is building a Kia plant, the Athens Kia dealership closed recently.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Donate bikes to us via the Jittery Joe's Roaster

If you would like to help the Bike Recycling Program with a donated bicycle, you can now drop off donations at the Jittery Joe's Roaster on E. Broad St.

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Also, we are selling two restored, classic bikes at the Roaster to help support the program:
  1. 1970's Schwinn Continental, yellow, very large men's frame, tricked out with bar-end shifters, $200
  2. 1986 Ross "Mt. Hood" in stock condition except tires and saddle, $350
Many thanks to the Charlie Mustard at the Roaster for these opportunities!

And ... Jittery Joe's is soon releasing a BikeAthens-benefitting coffee blend, called Alternative Fuels. Stay tuned for details!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Parade of Lights this Thursday!

Don't forget!
We will be riding this Thursday evening in the annual Holiday Parade of Lights.

Everyone is invited to join us (on foot or on bike) to show support for cycling, walking, and transit in Athens. Just rsvp me, chair(at), to let me know you're coming.

If you are participating, please come to the Dougherty St Government Building by 6:00. Judging starts then, and the parade begins around 7:30.