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.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

More on the awful plan to concentrate trans funding power

The ABH follows up on Perdue & Co's shockingly un-democratic plan to consolidate state transportation planning and funding into the hands of a very powerful few.

If this proposal is enacted, our state will fall even further behind in addressing very real and pressing transportation issues in a meaningful way. Political patronage and party loyalty will dictate transportation planning.

Let your state representative & senator know how you feel.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

GA Senate moving on transportation funding overhaul

"Gov. Sonny Perdue’s plan to reorganize transportation spending passed the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday," reports the AJC.

The bill (Senate Bill 200) would give the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House of Representatives more control over the more than $2 billion in state transportation spending.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Tommie Williams (R-Lyons), would shift many of the powers now held by the state Department of Transportation to a new agency called the State Transportation Authority. The authority, which would choose most state road projects, would be controlled by a board that was hand-picked by the state’s top three elected officials.

Three people hand-picking the decision-makers, eh? GDOT might be broke and mired in 1950s planning perspectives, but this bill will lead to an unprecedented politicization of transportation funding decisions. Good luck convincing the three good ole boys at the dome to fund greenways, rail-trails, transit, commuter rail, bike paths, sidewalks...

Contact your senator.

Monday, February 23, 2009

HB 277

From the ABH:

House bill [277 would] levy a 1 percent sales tax statewide for specified transportation projects over 10 years

Status: House Transportation Committee passed, likely full House vote this week.

With a vote likely this week, please contact your state representative and ask for support of this bill. When you write or call, be sure to emphasize your support for a variety of transportation choices, such as commuter rail, bike and pedestrian facilities, and buses. This transportation tax should primarily fund the creation and maintenance of alternatives to road widening & construction.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

$500K available for alt trans projects in Athens

Athens-Clarke County has $500,000 to spend on bike, pedestrian, and transit projects, and we want to hear from you on which projects you'd like to see happen.

Read the post below and then please fill out the poll on our blog home page.

Details & project descriptions via the ABH:
A standing committee of five commissioners is deciding how to spend $500,000 the commission earmarked for alternative transportation - walking, biking and buses - in 2006.

Officials said they want to spend $75,000 to update a plan for future bike lanes written in 2001, expanding it beyond the three-mile radius from downtown that was mapped out eight years ago. They also want to hold back $25,000 for incidental expenses.

Projects that parks, transportation and Athens Transit officials said could be funded with the remaining money include:

► $400,000 to buy land for a future expansion of a planned, federally funded park-and-ride lot at Oconee Street and the Athens Perimeter.

► $400,000 to widen College Station Road between Research Drive and Barnett Shoals Road to add lanes for bike riders.

► $400,000 to build 1.3 miles of sidewalks along Oglethorpe Avenue, Whit Davis Road, Cherokee Road, Research Road and Cedar Shoals Drive.

► $400,000 to build a trail connecting the Multimodal Transportation Center to a planned rail-trail project in East Athens.

► $400,000 to supplement sales tax revenue earmarked for the North Oconee River Greenway.

► $400,000 to build paths in a proposed park along Pulaski Creek.

► $400,000 to build a bike lane along West Broad Street/Atlanta Highway from Alps Road to greenspace near the Middle Oconee River.

► $400,000 to build an off-road path connecting Milledge Avenue and Milledge Avenue Extension.

► $200,000 to buy land for bus shelters at stops where the local government does not own right-of-way.

► $50,000 to promote Athens Transit bus service.

► $20,000 to buy and install 40 bike racks around Athens.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Perdue & Co. look to shake up state transportation planning

The AJC opens the blinds a bit to expose behind-the-scenes maneuvering that would overhaul the hierarchy of oversight on transportation spending in the state.

Excerpts:

The state’s top leaders are quietly planning big changes to the way Georgia spends transportation money.

Gov. Sonny Perdue, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson have kept their talks under wraps. But a draft organizational chart obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggests the plan could gut the responsibilities of the state Transportation Board, which currently approves project lists and sets policy for the state’s $2 billion annual transportation budget.

The state Transportation Board is elected by the Legislature now, but the process spreads out the power among individual legislators. Each of the 13 board members, who currently approve the state’s project lists, serves a congressional district and is elected by all of the state legislators who represent a part of his or her district.

According to the draft plan, the state would combine the current State Road and Tollway Authority and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority into a new entity with members appointed by the governor, the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the House. The authority would create long- and short-range statewide transportation plans. It would also write “distribution criteria” for money. The governor would then recommend the road budget and the General Assembly would approve it.

It’s too early to say what the plan could mean for Georgia commuters, travelers and haulers.

Some transportation-policy experts say it might make road project choices even more political. Others say that it could get politics out of the way of the engineers and road crews, and get projects to ribbon-cutting faster.

One legislator predicted the overhaul of the state’s transportation governance could kill proposals for new transportation funding, leaving officials in the new transportation organization with little or nothing to spend.

Systemic shake-ups afoot. What this means for bike/ped/transit funding remains to be seen, but my gut feeling is tense skepticism. Stay tuned...

ACC gov't to discuss transportation projects

Banner-Herald reports:
The Athens-Clarke Commission is gearing up again after a monthslong break for elections and the holidays.

The Government Operations Committee, another five-member group that considers internal policies, will set out Tuesday to revise a plan for future bicycle lanes across the county, said Commissioner Kelly Girtz, the committee's chairman.

Committee members also will discuss how to spend $500,000 the commission earmarked in 2006 for alternative transportation - walking, biking or buses.

Commissioners set aside the money as part of a deal to build a portion of a West Athens road, Jennings Mill Parkway, when state funding unexpectedly became available.

Commissioner contact information.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Economic stimulus bill update

Looks like the Rs and Ds finally made nice and agreed to this:
[T]he measure includes almost $54 billion to help states with their budget deficits and to modernize schools, $27.5 billion for highway projects, $8.4 billion for public transportation and $9.3 billion for Amtrak and high-speed rail service, among other projects.
Now, we wait to see what Georgia's legislature will do with this loot. Let's hope they don't ignore the Brain Train to subsidize pitchfork-brandishing mobs outside of Women's Studies...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ped mall variations


Flagpole's "Athens Rising" columnist, Kevan Williams, explores the oft-discussed downtown pedestrian mall concept, pointing out that such a pedestrian space need not be linear or limited to "College Square."

He says, "These pedestrian plazas ought to be little gems in the city...We’ll never know how this thing would work until we try it, but trying it out doesn’t require a multi-million dollar streetscaping project. This spring, the city could put out some traffic barricades, roll out the AstroTurf, and take back the street for a week to see what happens."

Upgrades to downtown parking meters

Downtown Athens is getting new "solar-powered parking meters that accept credit cards and dollar bills."

Notably,

The pay-and-display system also will cut down on streetside clutter, because each new machine can handle up to 10 parking spaces, [ADDA Executive Director Kathryn] Lookofsky said.

"It will make the sidewalks more walkable."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

ask us what we want

One more from StreetFilms. This is just amazing.

StreetFilms: national transportation politics

Moments after he delivered the keynote address to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), Oregon's Rep. Earl Blumenauer, head of the Congressional Bike Caucus, met with Streetsblog Editor-in-Chief Aaron Naparstek [to talk] about the current federal stimulus bill and how advocates can better engage their leaders:


Many more excellent films on the StreetFilms website!

More parking decks at UGA

Awwww.... come on!

The University of Georgia will add two more parking decks, one near the intramural fields off College Station Road and one near the Performing and Visual Arts Center on East Campus.

If approved today as expected by the University System Board of Regents, construction crews will begin work within weeks and finish as early as August, said UGA spokesman Tom Jackson.

The $9.2 million, 490-parking space deck near the intramural fields is scheduled to be finished in time to furnish overflow parking for UGA home football games, Jackson said.

UGA is supposed to be discouraging automobile use. These decks are utterly at odds with the university's demonstrated commitment to 1) expanding greenspace, 2) increasing walk- and bike-ability on campus, and 3) encouraging on-campus living.

The increased automobile traffic they create will make cycling on College Station's bike lanes far less safe.

This is a terrible, backwards-ass idea, and it sounds like it's being done to appease the tailgating Escalade convoys from out of town, and that it's too late to oppose it.

Not only is this asinine from a transportation perspective- it demonstrates a callous mis-allocation of money for the university. The state keeps shoveling money at UGA, but only for megalithic student centers and wrongheaded parking decks. Meanwhile, academic departments and student service offices are facing unprecedented cuts, including potentially widespread layoffs.

Is it sane to build a monumental campus, full of hapless students in empty, un-staffed buildings, while cash and bourbon-fueled donors park their land yachts in awful, modernist parking decks?

Ride to the Capitol

Check this website for more details on the 2009 "Georgia Rides to the Capitol" event:
W H O
Metro Atlanta Mayors Association (MAMA), Georgia Bikes!, and event sponsors will host over 1,000 cyclists from the metro Atlanta region. Police-escorted rides will depart from Decatur and Roswell led respectively by Mayor Bill Floyd and Mayor Jere Wood as well as other mayors and public officials from the region.


W H A T

During the fourth annual "Georgia Rides to the Capitol" event, cyclists will embark on rides to the Capitol in order to raise support for improved conditions for cycling, including the development of regional systems of both on-road bicycling facilities and multi-use-trails.


W H E N

Tuesday, March 3, 2009, during the state legislative session. Estimated time of arrival at the Capitol is 11:40 a.m. Your starting time will depend on which city or auxiliary location you choose to start at or which route you choose to join along the way.


W H Y

Riding to raise support for the development of a regional-scale bicycle network of both on-road facilities and multi-use-trails, and cycling connections to major transit facilities, activity centers, and schools.

MAMA also intends to raise awareness of the benefits of bicycling as an important form of transportation; a beneficial economic development and tourism tool; an excellent way to maintain health and fitness; and a great sport and family activity.

Monday, February 9, 2009

"the scale of our activities"

From his blog post today, James Kunstler:
What we really face is a comprehensive contraction in our activities, especially the scale of our activities, and the pressing need to readjust the systems of everyday life to a level of decreased complexity.
For instance, the myth that we can become "energy independent and yet remain car-dependent is absurd. In terms of liquid fuels, we're simply trapped. We import two-thirds of the oil we use and there is absolutely no chance that drill-drill-drilling (or any other scheme) will change that. The public and our leaders can not face the reality of this. The great wish for "alternative" liquid fuels (bio fuels, algae excreta) will never be anything more than a wish at the scales required, and the parallel wish to keep all our cars running by other means -- hydrogen fuel cells, electric motors -- is equally idle and foolish. We cannot face the mandate of reality, which is to do everything possible to make our living places walkable, and connect them with public transit. The stimulus bills in congress clearly illustrate our failure to understand the situation.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Transportation fails

You're probably familiar with FAIL Blog, but if not, here are some great examples of transportation fails:

fail owned pwned pictures



dangerousbikelane.jpg


fail owned pwned pictures


fail owned pwned pictures

A year for new approaches?

Flagpole covers the intersection of TSPLOST, state and local government, and Athens Transit.

Green Insurance

New proposals for pay as you drive insurance rates in Washington state. Great idea for cyclists, and for many drivers. Most ideas would track where you drive, when you drive, and how you drive, but I'd trade that privacy for inexpensive insurance rates since I'm normally a safe driver when I'm not on my bike. I doubt that the state of Georgia will get anything like this soon, but we can hope, or maybe contact a state representative.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/politics/2008713468_greeninsurance06m.html

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Order Alternative Fuel online!


You can now order Alternative Fuel, the coffee blend prepared especially for us by local coffee roaster Jittery Joe's, via their website.

Orders placed online can either be shipped directly to you, or you can print your online receipt and pick up your coffee at the Roaster on E. Broad St.

Proceeds from the sale of Alternative Fuel support our programs and advocacy efforts!

Thanks for supporting local businesses and BikeAthens.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

TSPLOST revived in House; federal funding

ABH reports:
Georgia House leaders revived an effort Monday for a 1 percent statewide sales tax that would funnel $25 billion into transportation projects during the next decade across Georgia.

The proposal comes loaded with transportation projects to coax legislators who have been reluctant to support past tax-raising efforts - and who may be even more wary this year amid the economic slump.

State Rep. Vance Smith, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, said he's confident the measure will earn the support it needs in the House. But it remains to be seen whether it will win over voters in the Senate.

[The Senate] is pressing its own plan that would allow regions to band together to charge a one-cent sales tax to fund transportation projects. The House begrudgingly embraced the regional plan last year, only to watch as the effort fell one vote short in the Senate.

The proposal promises some juicy dollops for traffic-choked metro Atlanta, including funding for a streetcar route in the heart of the city, a rail line that would stretch to Athens and money for the Beltline project, which would create a ring of parks and light rail around Atlanta.

Federal funding from the bailout/stimulus plan may also boost transit support.