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.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

holiday bikes for 66 kids in athens!

Thanks to our great volunteers we turned out 66 kids' bikes for the holidays this year, only two of which remain to deliver. The BRP is taking an official hiatus through February, except for a big project during the MLK Jr. Day of Service.

We call that a big success and wish you all merry christmas and happy holidays.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

ukelele by bicycle tour a success

aaron lee hit Athens for a show upstairs at the Globe on November 18 and kept rolling toward Atlanta the next day for 3 shows and finished up the east coast tour in Americus, Georgia at cafe campesino. read all about it in his ukelele by bicycle blog. and yes, he biked all the way from Maine to Georgia, and all his songs contain the word ukelele...one way or another. its quite a clever and fun show.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

State of the state

Wanna know where Georgia stands on bike/ped projects? Check out these slides from the inaugural bike summit for a snapshot of new policy, routes, maps, etc.
http://georgiabikes.org/images/stories/docs/summit/2010/gdot.pdf

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Holiday Bikes for Kids

We're gearing up at the shop to recycle, repair, clean and put a general shine on kid-sized bike donations in order to get them ready for our holiday delivery. Check in the shed and the garage and send any small unused bikes our way, we'll make sure the refurbished bikes are then donated to local agencies and schools for distribution. Last year, the trucks were loaded up with over 60 bicycles which were presented to children in the Athens community! More info on the website.

Find the BikeAthens Bike Recycling Program repair shop in studio 6 of the Chase Street Warehouse (149 Oneta Street). The shop is open Sundays 2-4 PM and Mondays and Wednesdays 6-8 PM.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Campaign for Charities

Remember us when you fill out your Campaign for Charities form this Fall and select #194064 for BikeAthens so we can better support transportation choices. We appreciate the community support and all our volunteers.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

REcycle from clunker to classy

Come join us out at the Chase Street warehouses. BRP meets 3 times weekly to recycle bikes. It's fun, rewarding, and even fulfills some folks lifelong dreams. Check it out Mon 6-830p, Wed 6-830p, or Sun 2-430p. Full details on the program located on the BikeAthens website. And read all about it in today's Red & Black campus newspaper.
If you want to sign up to volunteer, you'll find us listed on the HandsOn Volunteer Calendar every month!

Monday, November 1, 2010

SPOOKY SPOKES

8 brave souls came out for courteous mass on Halloween eve and toured downtown and normaltown and 1 even rode in the parade.
Coming up:
Ride with us in the Athens Holiday parade and starting monthly again in the spring. If you are just looking to get comfy riding about town, we take it easy and safe and hope to see more of you out there soon!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Georgia Intermodal Leadership Summit

On October 22, BikeAthens Board members Anna Gore, Tracie Sanchez, and Amy Johnson attended the Georgia Intermodal Leadership Summit in Macon on a Friday. This Summit was coordinated by the Georgians for Passenger Rail, a statewide group focused on implementing and further developing existing passenger rail plans for our entire state. Topics of special note were:

FUNDING
  • US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood emphasized in his speech to a room full of state legislators "Georgia better get its act together" (feds won't give funding without local matched commitments)
  • HB277 (T-SPLOST) will likely generate $714 Million its first year
  • T-SPLOST is necessary to fulfill funding losses from people driving less and paying less in gas tax, and it's multi-modal!!
  • Focus is on alternate funding ideas and HB277 is a certainly a start; Dubose Porter insisted the 4th penny sales tax is the way to take existing money and reallocate it to transportation funding and to show the feds we have a plan!
BIKE/PED
  • Richard Mendoza, Atlanta Public Works Commissioner (like our David Clark) said priorities should be on fixing existing infrastructure and diversifying mode investment (yeah to bike/ped!!) He referenced bikes and the recent Streets Alive event in Atlanta that attracted over 5,000 folks for cicolovia afternoon festival.
RAIL
  • Athens Multi-Modal Transportation Center (future passenger rail terminal) got a shout out from Dubose Porter for being ready to go!
  • GA road systems are excellent, but we've passed up huge federal funding for passenger rail and other modalities
  • If we get passenger rail, the Macon - Atlanta line will likely be first recipient and is a perfect first project because the Ford plant closure has left the line much freer from former heavy freight use so its a perfect time to put passengers on the line.
  • NC passenger rail story is a huge success and the result of decades of vision
  • Major economic development benefits from passenger rail investment referenced
  • Kudos to existing infrastructure which positions us best when applying for federal funding (including Athens Multi-Modal Center)
SEA
  • The intermodal family of Georgia also includes sea & air and referenced the support for the plan to deepen Savannah's port 47 feet to accommodate freight once the Panama Canal opens and is deemed as a huge coup for the state if Georgia is ready; also of note is 90% of Georgians are now 2 hours from an airport according to Carol Comer, DOT Aviation Program Mgr
TAKEAWAYS
  • Regional commissions will need to collaborate with other regions along rail corridors
  • Strategies for making it happen: POLITICAL WILL, LEADERSHIP, and COLLABORATION

Let us know your thoughts on the Discussion listserv (discussion-l@bikeathens.com), and we'll pass that on to these state leaders. We will be meeting with the Board of Georgians for Passenger Rail again soon.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sipprelle supporting BikeAthens nonprofit

BikeAthens recently named Cara Sipprelle as its administrator. Sipprelle will be responsible for general administration, membership coordination, event planning, bike map distribution and other activities.

Sipprelle recently earned her master's degree in anthropology from the University of Georgia, and served for two years as coordinator for the Southern Seed Legacy, a local organization dedicated to preserving the cultural and biological diversity of Southern agriculture. In this capacity, she was responsible for managing membership; recruiting and supervising volunteers; planning events; and coordinating communications for the organization.

Original story here: http://onlineathens.com/stories/101710/bus_721455087.shtml

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Georgia Bikes! Inaugural Summit

Georgia Bikes Summit 2010
On October 9 BikeAthens members Tracie, Amy, Mike, and Jeff attended the inaugural bike summit in Savannah over the weekend. The keynote speaker was League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke who gave a super pep talk about how advocacy isn't rocket science and we are doing it right...and to keep on keeping on. USDOT Sec Ray Lahood made a surprise video appearance and spoke directly to Georgia. A few of the dozen topics covered were:

  • Connecting the DOTs - Working with transportation agencies and planners
  • Broadening the Community of Cyclists
  • State of GDOT update
  • Effecting Public Policy with Multi-Use Trails
  • Building a Bicycle-Friendly Community, The Case for Complete Streets
  • Designing and building All-Weather Mountain Bike Trails

Attendees enjoyed a meet and greet at 2 local, bikeable establishments and a Sunday morning 10-mile bike ride/tour around downtown Savannah.
Please visit http://www.georgiabikes.org for a full recap of the event, plus powerpoint slides for most of the breakout sessions, and a photo slideshow.

FYI: BikeAthens was just selected to host the 2nd Georgia Bike Summit in fall 2011! We'll keep you posted.

Friday, September 24, 2010

cLips of Faith Beer & Film Tour

BikeAthens is partnering with New Belgium Brewing Co. to put on the cLips of Faith Beer & Film Tour one week from today, on Friday October 1st in downtown Athens! This is a fundraiser for BikeAthens, and we'd appreciate your support! Here's the skinny:

Time: 6:30-9:30pm
Place: Hot Corner (Washington & Hull area)
Details: Short films will begin at dark, and beer tastings will continue throughout! Folks are encouraged to bike (or walk or bus it) downtown. BikeAthens' monthly Courteous Mass ride will also be happening that evening, the route ending at the cLips of Faith location...why not do both?

We're also looking for a few more volunteers to help make the event run smoothly...New Belgium will treat you well in exchange for your time & effort :) Check out our HandsOn Northeast Georgia event page for info on how to volunteer.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

BikeAthens is hiring!

The BikeAthens Board of Directors is currently seeking applicants for the Administrator position. If you're an organized individual who is passionate about transportation choices, visit www.bikeathens.com for a complete job description and application details!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bike Lane Presence = Increased Pedestrian Safety?

Well, at least in NYC it does - decreasing the likelihood of a pedestrian fatality by a whopping 40%!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

This Sunday, August 22nd from 1-4 pm, shop for a fully refurbished bicycle - proceeds benefit BikeAthens!

WHERE: BikeAthens' Bike Recycling Shop in the Chase St Warehouse.

There will be bikes for all types and all types of bikes. Prices will range from $100 to $500. Accessories and parts also available.

Photos of available bikes.

Afterwards, join BikeAthens as we celebrate a year's worth of accomplishments from 5:30-8pm at ATHICA. There will be light food and drink and plenty of good company.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, July 23, 2010

David Mack's comics

Local artist David Mack makes comics about Athens, published weekly in Flagpole.

Check out his site here.

A few of his bike-related pieces are below. Enjoy!




Friday, July 16, 2010

Large study on transit use in metro Atlanta

From the AJC:
After a major study, the Atlanta Regional Commission knows a lot more about who takes transit in the area and why. But the numbers, released Thursday, also beg the question: As the Atlanta region prepares for a referendum on funding regional transportation projects, is there really demand for regional mass transit?

While the ARC does not plan for Athens-Clarke or its surrounding counties (MACORTS does all that), its decisions will certainly affect us, especially as they relate to regional rail and other transit options.

I'm with MARTA CEO Beverly Scott on the crux of the issue:
"Part of the problem you’re looking at now is chicken and an egg," she said. With service that is more frequent, faster, more integrated and more convenient, "[transit ridership] numbers absolutely would go up."
In cities that have well-planned networks of user-friendly inter-city rail, intra-city light rail, subways, buses, trolleys, and shuttles, people absolutely use them.

Connect these transit options to walkable, bikeable, and otherwise transit-oriented communities, and you've got yourself a sustainable place worth living in and visiting.

1st annual Georgia Bike Summit

Please mark your calendar -- Georgia Bikes! will host the first ever Georgia Bike Summit in Savannah on Saturday, Oct 9, 2010!

This gathering will set the stage for new statewide gains in bicycling by
  1. networking cycling advocacy leaders from across the state
  2. educating and empowering cycling advocates
  3. identifying common cycling/transportation issues facing our local communities, and
  4. setting the priorities for Georgia Bikes' efforts in 2011.

We look forward to seeing you there!

More details will be forthcoming on this event soon, but please pass this along your networks and look for details soon on how to register.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Leaving all that oil behind

From Grist :

10 ways cities and towns can kick the offshore-oil habit

No suprises here - these solutions have been known for quite a while. Build densely and in ways that fully accomodate a wide range of transportation choices. In other words, build places that are walkable, bikeable, and transit oriented.

When we create places that can only be accessed and traversed by private automobile, surprise! - we become desperately car (and thus oil)-dependent.

Demand a more livable future, not only for your own neighborhood, but for the thousands of people, and other creatures, that your daily decisions and errands impact.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Tour de Farm on CNN

Check out this great video coverage of the recent Tour de Farm, which several BikeAthens members helped coordinate:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fixing southern sprawl

This video is part of an award-winning, six-part series called American Makeover and features many of the local thinkers, developers, and researchers who participated in this month’s Congress for New Urbanism’s conference in Atlanta. One of the participants was David Byrne, who was interviewed by Creative Loafing about bicycles, cities, and Atlanta.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bike to Work Day 2010


Registration for Bike to Work Day is now available! Please click here to register for Bike to Work Day (5/21/2010). By registering, you are simply saying that you will/did Bike to Work on May 21st. If you plan on biking to work (or, after Friday the 21st, if you did), please register – it will allow us to compare past and subsequent BTW Day happenings.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

WIN-WIN: Drink Terrapin, support BikeAthens


In addition to it being National Bike Month, May is also BikeAthens Month at the Terrapin Brewery!

BikeAthens will receive a portion of all souvenir glass purchases for brewery tours this month.

Terrapin is open to the public for tours and tastings every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 5:30 - 7:30 pm. Educational tours run at 6:00, 6:30 and 7:00.

No one admitted after 7:00pm, Last pour for tastings is at 7:30.

Souvenir glasses for tasting are $10 each. A portion of each glass sale support BikeAthens' programs and activities.

So check out Athens' only microbrewery, where you can sample some great beer and support transportation choices in one visit. Cheers!

Friday, April 30, 2010

May is National Bike Month!


You couldn't ask for better biking weather, and a host of events and circumstances are converging to shine a light on the many benefits of cycling.

For our part, we're hosting Bike To Work Day on Friday, May 21st. The pre-party will be at Jittery Joe's Roaster on the 20th from 4-7!

Also, we are the fortunate Charity of the Month at the Terrapin Brewery throughout May - take a tour, buy a souvenir glass, and support transportation choices! Be sure to stop by the brewery on Friday, May 7th, for our Bike Month kickoff party.

Get out there and ride, and get noticed!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bring Bike Sharing to Athens!

Learn more about it here, or watch the video below.

Vote for Athens here!

UGA budget cuts impact Athens Transit

ABH: "The University of Georgia will cut subsidies for students and employees to ride Athens Transit, costing the bus system $150,000 next year, officials said Thursday."
The Athens-Clarke government does not plan to cut service or spend more local tax money on buses, Athens-Clarke Manager Alan Reddish said, because federal grant money will make up the difference.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

T-SPLOST passes!

After grim 11th hour letdowns last year and the year before, Georgia's legislature finally passed a bill that would allow for a transportation-specific SPLOST (aka T-SPLOST, and not to be confused with our Athens-specific SPLOST):
Taking to the well for the first time this session, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston in a rousing speech led the House to pass HB 277, a bill for transportation funding by a vote of 141-29. The Senate passed it shortly afterward, breaking a logjam that has bottled up the issue for at least three years.

It now goes to the desk of Gov. Sonny Perdue.

The bill would divide the state into 12 regions. A “roundtable” of local elected officials in each region would draw up a list of projects for the region, and could then submit the list to voters for their approval in a referendum, along with a 1 percent sales tax to fund them. No county could opt out of a region’s tax, but a roundtable could decline to hold a referendum in the region.

[If a region opts out,] they will lose out on some new state benefits, including a bit more money for small local road projects. And it wouldn’t be able to try again for a vote for two years.
Well, it took us long enough to get here, and this money, if it's even approved by our region, won't be available for three years.

That said, this legislation is a great step forward.

Between these funds, federal transportation dollars, grants, Safe Routes to School funds, an increased gasoline tax (Georgia's is among the nation's lowest, as is our general funding for transit) and a commitment to better transportation planning overall, we may finally enjoy the kind of multi-modal transportation choices enjoyed by forward-thinking cities around the nation.

Good news

The latest roster of SPLOST projects for voters to consider this fall has some exciting prospects for expanded transportation options:

The recommended list includes a mix of transportation, recreation and public safety projects, including money for buses, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, parks, trails, an Atlanta Highway fire station, public art, police equipment, the county animal shelter, library books, a cooperative extension headquarters and a center for hard-to-recycle materials.

Not all transportation improvements made the cut, however:
Among the likely casualties are road and intersection improvements, [as well as] bike lane [installation] along College Station Road.

All told, we are very pleased with the list, as it addresses bicycle, pedestrian and transit infrastructure. Be sure to tell your commissioner that you support these projects!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

T-SPLOST grinds forward

"A bill to allow regions in Georgia to vote for transportation funding has cleared a major roadblock," reports the AJC's "Gold Dome Live" blog.

The bill – still in progress, and still in the conference committee – also may contain moderate incentives for ... mass transit.

It’s still under negotiation, details are changing, and no copy [of the bill] has been circulated publicly yet.

The bill (HB 277, formerly HB 1218) would ...divide the state into 12 predefined regions, allowing each region to submit a referendum to voters for a 1 percent sales tax to fund a list of projects within the region. However, there’s a change allowing more local choice.

In the new version discussed Tuesday, Senate and House negotiators said counties still would not be able to opt out of a region or its tax.

The bill as it stands now would offer a couple of carrots to regions that do vote on a list. First, it would increase the state subsidy they currently get for a category of small paving and local projects. Also, in most of the state, 25 percent of the region’s new tax proceeds would stay in the local governments where the money came from.

Too soon to hope? Help this happen. Given the state's budget woes, especially with transportation projects, your support of T-SPLOST may be our only hope.

In the , um, metaphor, this would be you.

Twilight!


The 30th annual Twilight Criterium is this Saturday!


See: Flagpole's coverage & the official event website.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Car Free Day

Three University of Georgia organizations are promoting next Friday as "Car Free Day," asking people to use alternative transportation to work and school.

The School of Ecology, in collaboration with the GoGreen Alliance and Students for Environmental Action, will station "commute captains" off campus and offer free food, drinks and prizes to participants.

Commute captains will be located at College Station Road and International Drive at 7:10 and 9 a.m. and at South Milledge and Oakland avenues at 7:15 and 8 a.m. to lead groups to campus.

Organizers will set up a refreshment stand at the front entrance of Memorial Hall between 7:30 and 11 a.m. with free food, drinks and a chance to win prizes including gift certificates for gear and a free bike check from Sunshine Cycles.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Art & bikes, bikes in art


Live Free or Drive
Bike-themed Art Show at Anchor Gallery supports BikeAthens
660 W. Broad Street

Friday, April 23, 2-10 pm

A portion of the proceeds will go towards BikeAthens to help support transportation choices in Athens, and anyone who arrives on a BIKE will receive a free print!

It will be an all day event with an open house at Ben's Bikes, plus music, food and drinks, and plenty of good times! Get out, and ride your bike!








And speaking of bike-themed art...
Check out our sweet new safety poster, designed by local artist Nash Hogan:



We'll be placing this image in media outlets very soon to spread the gospel on being an eye-catching cyclist. In the meantime, here's a full-size, hi-res version for your viewing pleasure.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Street improvements

From Flagpole:
Street repaving and streetscape improvements will be among the last sales tax-funded projects under the current round of SPLOST collections (a new list of projects goes before voters in November).
...
Eleven downtown streets are under consideration, along with (if enough money is available) Baxter, Milledge, Prince, Oconee and Lexington.
...

The money will go to repaving downtown and other streets that need repaving the worst, under guidelines drawn up by county staffers, with streetscape improvements added. Streets where commercial "redevelopment" is especially desired will also get priority. Any plans for Atlanta Highway will have to wait; Commissioner Kelly Girtz says he'd like to see a planted center median along that road, and designated lanes for buses. Federal "smart growth" grants are available, Girtz says; he suggests Athens needs a staff person who would apply for such grants.

In May commissioners will review new planning department studies of Prince Avenue and Oconee Street that are intended to guide future developments there. The studies will inventory existing conditions along both streets and make long-term recommendations for sidewalks, minor zoning changes, or "overlay districts" with special requirements.

Also in Flagpole, some creative suggestions for cheap, grassroots transportation choices.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Childhood obesity rates high in Georgia

The AJC covers the distressingly high percent of Georgia's youth who are severely overweight and obese:
Georgia’s children rank as some of the heaviest in the country, with about 37 percent of children ages 10 to 17 overweight or obese, according to a 2009 Robert Wood Johnson study.

The extra pounds put youngsters at risk for obesity-related diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which used to be seen mainly in adults.

The article focuses on eating habits, alluding to the epidemic of physical inactivity but not connecting the dots between the built environment and inactivity. When our neighborhoods and cities are built to accommodate automobiles, and not people, people (big surprise!) do not engage in much activity: sit in the car, sit in the classroom, sit in the den, etc.

In communities that make biking and walking safe, convenient transportation options, obesity levels are much lower and children are healthier.

In light of these facts, Georgians shouldn't be too surprised by the obesity issue in the state but ought to be embarrassed by this.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

New Bike Maps have arrived!


The 2010 edition of our popular Bike Map of Athens is hot off the press!

We'll be distributing them soon to a number of locations around town (full list via link above).

Pick one up, and enjoy your ride!


Thank you to all of our advertisers & supporters for making the 2010 map possible!

Special thanks to:

Burman Printing

New Belgium Brewing Company

Oconee River Greenway Commission

and Athens Transit !

To Do: Submit SPLOST projects support letter!

The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) 2011 Committee has made its preliminary recommendation of projects to be placed on a November 2011 referendum. The current list must be pared down to match projected revenue from the tax.

On Tuesday, April 13, the SPLOST committee chair will present this list to the Athens Clarke County Commission, seeking the commission's input on further reducing the list.

BikeAthens supports a subset of the selected projects related to expanding transportation options and encourages citizens to contact the commissioners to express their individual support.

Use our convenient web form to send an email to all ACC Commissioners. Feel free to change the message to reflect your individual preferences!

The comment period ends on Monday, April 12, 2010 at midnight.

More information about the SPLOST 2011 committee and submitted projects is available here.

Thanks for taking a minute to send in your comments!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

T-SPLOST rumblings in the legislature

UPDATE: "This is the year of reckoning on this issue"

Based on the 11th-hour failure last year, and the year before, I'll take a "We'll see" stance on this, but maybe it will finally happen...

Transit trouble in Clayton Co

Our neighbors in Clayton County are about to experience some very hard times with their public transportation system. Their story uncovers a much larger debate about what we do with our pooled resources and how we can build communities that are equitable and sustainable for the long run.
Clayton County pulled the plug on its bus system in spite of the fact that local transit has traditionally been led by local government. In Georgia, 127 counties and towns run some form of transit, from big-city trains down to small-town on-call shuttles, according to the state Department of Transportation. Special transit for the handicapped and medical visits might survive, but come Thursday Clayton will be the only one of metropolitan Atlanta's five core counties without any regular local transit.
...
The state is reluctant to supplement local budgets for operating transit, unlike most of its peer states with major systems like MARTA. Some neighbors with smaller systems fund operations. The Charlotte Area Transit System receives state funds for operations, budgeted at $13 million next year, and a local sales tax dedicated to mass transit, according to Charlotte's system.
...
Yet there is an exception to the state's hard-line philosophy on operating transit: Georgia taxpayers, including C-Tran passengers, are helping fund a state-run Xpress bus service for suburbanites' long-haul commutes.
When gasoline prices spike, people will turn to public transit again. Where will people turn when there aren't any buses?
Caught in the middle are the passengers, 65 percent of whom say they have no access to a car. Interviews with bus passengers this month showed a section of the metro population that faces life-changing consequences from loss of transportation. They called it "a tragedy. They called it "crazy." Some were spending big sums to break leases and move near MARTA. Some expected to lose their jobs. Others conceded that they simply were at a loss as to what to do.

Transit-oriented communities are cleaner, more pleasant places to live, and effective public transit provides access to essential services and employment for broad segments of the community.

[William] Millar, the American Transit Association president, said that every dollar invested in public transit generates about four dollars in the economy.

Funding public transit allows people who can't drive, including the elderly and those too poor to own car, to participate in society, he added.

"It’s really a basic question of values," he said.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Georgia Rides to the Capitol

UPDATE: Here's AJC's coverage of the rally. And more photos.

Huge turnout on a perfect day! Many thanks to all the cyclists who came out to support better bicycle facilities and safety in Georgia- hopefully a bigger Athens contingent can go next year!




Also, some epic news for BikeAthens. As part of a group of advocacy organizations across the state, we have been awarded a sizable grant from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety to promote road sharing and safe cycling practices. Stay tuned for details! Woooot!!

New mayoral candidate supports transportation choices

"Nonprofit homebuilder Spencer Frye is running for mayor of Athens-Clarke County," reports the Banner-Herald.
Frye's platform also includes many of the progressive positions held by the current mayor and commissioners. He said he supports strict environmental laws, adding Athens Transit routes, building sidewalks and bicycle lanes, [and] protecting neighborhoods from development.

NB: Due to our nonprofit status, we cannot endorse or campaign against any candidate for elected office, but we're happy to see the issues being addressed!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lost city of Atlanta?

Here's a thought provoking preview of what may be the end game to the sprawl-dependent economic model so prevalent in the southeast:

Detroit, the very symbol of American industrial might for most of the 20th century, is drawing up a radical renewal plan that calls for turning large swaths of this now-blighted, rusted-out city back into the fields and farmland that existed before the automobile.

Operating on a scale never before attempted in this country, the city would demolish houses in some of the most desolate sections of Detroit and move residents into stronger neighborhoods. Roughly a quarter of the 139-square-mile city could go from urban to semi-rural.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

T-SPLOST revival

Plans for a transportation-dedicated SPLOST were championed by David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) today.

He said action on the bill, which would divide the state into 12 transportation regions, is overdue.

The House committee was trying to put finishing touches on the bill as the Legislature wrapped up its 26th day of the 40-day session. Legislation must pass one chamber of the Legislature before the 30th day to have a chance to become law this year.

Under the bill, each of the 12 regions would hold a referendum on a list of transportation projects, and a penny sales tax to pay for them. If a region’s voters passed the tax, the money collected in the region would all be spent on projects in that region.

Well, this is mostly what we've been clamoring for for the past three years. My fear is that the bill gets tweaked such that a portion of the funds are dedicated to highway projects and only a small percentage is established for transit, pedestrian, or bicycling infrastructure.

The process should be open so that each region can establish its own transportation priorities. State-wide, it will likely lead to a mottled and dis-jointed approach to transportation planning, but at least we'll have a chance to prepare for a future that will demand less driving, whether we like it or not.

Text of HB 1218 here, if you're feeling masochistic.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Bike Sale!

BikeAthens' Bike Recycling Program is having a Spring Bike Sale this Sunday March 21st at the Bike Recycling Program Shop in the Chase Street Warehouses off Tracy St.

We'll have 20 freshly refurbished bicycles for sale including something for just about every type of rider. All bikes have passed a 78 point inspection and are in excellent operating condition. We've got road bikes, mountain bikes, touring bikes, hybrids, cruisers, and kids bikes for sale. Treks, Cannondales, Schwinns, Shoguns, Specializeds, and Giants. Bikes are reasonable priced with prices ranging from $50 to $500.

Stop by and check out our supply this Sunday from 2 pm to 4 pm.

100% of the proceeds benefit the BikeAthens Bike Recycling Program. BRP refurbishes bikes and donates them to the underpriviledged citizens of the greater Athens GA area to provide safe and reliable transportation.
http://bikeathens.com/activities/bike_recycling/program_details.html

Directions to the sale are here:
http://www.bikeathens.com/activities/bike_recycling/chase_st_warehouse.html

Athens Bus Campaign

Activist Michael Smith recently formed the Athens Bus Campaign to get the Athens-Clarke Commission to lower bus fares, reports the Banner-Herald, but neither Athens Transit nor the Mayor & Commission are being persuaded.

Athens Transit has become too reliant on University of Georgia students and employees whose fares are subsidized while not doing enough to attract other kinds of riders, Smith said.

He argues that many buses are not filled to capacity, so increased ridership could fill the budget gap created by dropping fares to make them more affordable.

"We feel like (lowering fares) could jump-start ridership," Smith said.

But few additional people would hop on a bus for $1.25 as opposed to the current $1.50 adult fare, Athens Transit Director Butch McDuffie said.

"The only way to increase ridership is to make your service more frequent and more available," McDuffie said. The commission has added night and Saturday service in recent years, but in the recession lacks the money to make additional improvements.

I tend to agree with Mr. McDuffie on this. How does Mr. Smith know that lowering fares would increase ridership? Has he conducted any surveys of prospective riders? If not, he should get in touch with UGA's social science departments - their students can help him do this.

An aside: What seems to increase ridership most acutely is a spike in gas prices. Until buses are as convenient to use as private automobiles (i.e. more frequent and available service), many people will only utilize transit when they have to.

Any other thoughts on this?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Google maps for bikes!

If you haven't heard by now, Google Maps has created a bicycle-focused mapping program.
Here's a video introducing the system:



It looks like Athens has been programmed for the most part, but if you see any errors, omissions, or other issues, send them to Google using the report feature in the yellow box to the left of your map.

Stay tuned for some suggested riding routes from BikeAthens. In the meantime, check out our existing Google Map of Athens, and watch for our 2010 update of the popular Bike Map of Athens!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Scooters

Athens Rising breaks down the impact of the scooter/moped trend, especially on UGA's campus.

Scooters have made traffic move a little more slowly and safely, creating a better environment for bicyclists and pedestrians as well. Sure, there are bad scooter drivers, but those kids would be just as bad behind the wheel of a Suburban, which is where this change in policy will likely send them. If scooters are made to be inconvenient to use, then we’ll likely see a host of other unintended consequences kick back up.

I agree. Scooters are a much more bike/ped friendly mode of transportation than automobiles. They're less noisy than cars, have good gas mileage, and they travel at much safer speeds. I'd rather bike next to a 35 mph scooter than a 55 mph Expedition. For folks whose physical condition or geographic location prohibits cycling and/or walking, scooters are a much more sensible transportation than a full-size car for short, in-town errands.

UGA does need to come up with a solution for the crowded and haphazard scooter parking on campus, however. Scooters block entrances and sidewalks, and they are frequently chained to bicycle racks, which are in high demand. Pushing scooters to the frontiers of campus is not the solution. As Williams notes, "any hasty move which disincentivizes this mode of transportation will cut off a whole realm of possibilities for the future of Athens."

Any other perspectives on this?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Free bus rides for ACC employees?

Perhaps, if a proposal by several commissioners moves ahead.

This idea is definitely leading Athens in the right direction- public transit will increasingly become a feature of America's livable cities. Transit-oriented development is development that accommodates walking, cycling, historic preservation, mixed-use, and all the other features people routinely identify as markers of a higher quality of life.

It might make more sense to offer a deep discount instead of a totally free pass, however. Plenty of other populations have as much of a claim to free bus service as people employed in public service. Why not give free passes to residents of public housing or to people using the bus during high traffic times of day?

The biggest issue facing public transit use in Athens is how to provide a level of service that most people will find equivalent to private automobile use. Most people simply will not ride the bus unless it is as convenient as driving alone. Buses need to run every 20 minutes or so, and they really ought to run in both directions on each route. Night service and full weekend service would be ideal. The problem, of course, is how to pay for this expansion of a needed public service.

For several years, we have advocated for a T-SPLOST, a small sales tax dedicated exclusively to public transportation infrastructure, operations, and maintenance. Gov. Perdue has proposed a version of the T-SPLOST, but it wouldn't be voted on until 2012, meaning no funds would be collected until the following year.
We don't have time for these delays. We're already 30 years behind where we should be with public transportation. Perdue's proposal is certainly better than nothing, but it really needs to be on the 2010 ballot.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rails-with-trails

Flagpole's Athens Rising column explores informal uses of urban space and how "the way people use the city doesn’t necessarily correspond with the planning and design intentions of the government."

W
hen families and otherwise “adult” people join the exploring kids as benign trespassers, this may be a symptom of some larger issue in the built environment. Rather than working to eliminate these symptoms, we ought to understand their underlying causes. The guerrilla SPOA (Skate Park of Athens) illustrated a need, which ultimately resulted in a sanctioned skate park being built at the Southeast Clarke Park. The High Line, in New York, is another example of informal park uses taking on a formal status.
...
The spaces that people choose to occupy with these informal uses are ones that have been disregarded or left undefined in some way.
...

Consider the folks who walk along the railroad tracks. The rail right-of-way provides a useable route between destinations. People who walk along the tracks are interested in the route, and not the rails themselves. Building a formal walking path with a fence between it and the tracks gives people a safer alternative than walking on the rails in the same way that a sidewalk along a road is safer than people walking on the shoulder. This logic has been implemented in many communities around the country, leading to the creation of “rails-with-trails” (the logical outgrowth of the rails-to-trails movement).

That sort of logic should be applied to address the alternative ways people use the city in every case. People do things for reasons, and by understanding the causes of actions, we can build a city which is more interesting and more equitably accessible.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Reliable transportation

Thanks to Michael Brugger for passing this along:




Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bicycles as a boon to state budgets

"A new study by University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate students says bicycling generates more than a $1.5 billion economic impact in Wisconsin, exceeding the impact of even the deer hunting industry," reports the Greenbay Press-Gazette.

Among the policy recommendations included in the report are to: accelerate investment and development of bicycle routes, lanes and paths throughout the state for safety and convenience; encourage people to replace short automobile trips with bicycling trips; and develop a culture of bicycling for recreation and transportation, especially among the younger generation.
...
With the current economic climate, the report said promoting bicycling tourism could encourage visitors from places like metropolitan [cities] who choose to forego more exotic vacations. Increasing nonresident bicycling by 20 percent has the potential to increase spending by more than $107 million and create 1,528 full-time equivalent jobs.

Town of Menasha resident Tom Ales, who bikes about eight miles year-round to his job as a research scientist at Kimberly-Clark Corp., estimated he spends $500 to $1,500 annually on bike equipment, apparel, tools and components.

While biking 8,000 to 10,000 miles a year, Ales spends money at "local convenience stores, the mall, movie theaters" while avoiding other costs. "I save a ton on gas and only put 2,000 to 4,000 miles on my car a year as a result," he said. "I ride all year-round and from March to the end of November I ride everywhere I can."


There's no reason this article couldn't be written about Georgia in a few years. Our road-building, suburban sprawling fiesta is over, our elected leaders & transportation planners need to realize that immediately, and we need to actively engage in (re)building a responsible state worth caring about.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Parking it at UGA

The Red & Black compares UGA's parking facilities to those of its peer institutions.

“Parking is one of the biggest problems on most any large university campus,” [ University of Florida vice president of Business Affairs Ed] Poppell said. “On our campus we say, ‘We have enough spaces, but just not in the right places.’”

The saying is a result of one of UF’s initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and congestion on campus by enforcing certain regulations, such as the university’s “auto-free interior campus,” where only buses and service vehicles are allowed on the interior of campus from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“We have significant policies on our campus limiting what students can do and where they can park,” Poppell said. “We have also continuously increased the price of our decals, encouraging people to find alternative means of transportation.”

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the parking is highly selective. With 16,000 total parking spaces on campus, the school allows only 3,900 of its 28,136 students to park on campus. Unlike the University, UNC does not offer parking to incoming freshmen.

“There are a lot of folks who prefer to utilize the transit system,” said Randy Young, spokesman for the UNC Department of Safety. “We’ve gone to inordinate measures to make sure that the congestion and dependence on single-occupancy vehicles are attended to here on campus. We have 6,000 people on the Commuter Alternative Program.”

The program offers students an incentive to walk, ride bikes or use transit on campus by rewarding them with prizes and merchant discounts.

The University has a similar program called the Alternative Transportation Program, with a student participation of 1,200.

The program allows students who walk or take the bus* to receive 22 days of free parking per year in specified parking locations.

*ATP is also available for cyclists. With its campus pedestrian malls, campus transit, and bike racks, UGA certainly leads the county in supporting alternative transportation infrastructure.

Still, more can be done to encourage alternative behavior among a student body overwhelmingly conditioned to drive enormous SUVs for 2 mile errand trips. Increasing ATP participation should be a top priority. Given the comparatively low levels of participation, UGA has a ways to go before it can say it has "gone to inordinate measures to make sure that the congestion and dependence on single-occupancy vehicles" are minimized.

Indeed, since its inception, the Alternative Transportation Program has grown more restrictive, due to concerns that the program was being abused. Instead of marginalizing a good idea, UGA ought to develop creative enforcement solutions and then widely publicize the program's availability and benefits. Fewer cars means less need for bond-financed parking decks, which means less congestion, both on our roads and in our air.

Unfortunately, other considerations tend to distort the University's thinking on these things.

Friday, February 5, 2010

HB 988: 3 foot passing law

Unfortunately, we hear all the time about folks who get buzzed and knocked off their bikes, scared, or seriously injured or killed. Despite what many Georgia cyclists believe, state law makes no specific statements about how cars should pass bicycles. The portion of the code that refers to passing (40-6-42) states only that

(1) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle;

We must note of course that bicycles are vehicles under state law. Sixteen other states have laws that apply a 3 foot safe passing distance for cars passing bicycles.

This law works as an educational tool for drivers and as a standard for enforcement (how close is too close? "I didn't hit him -- he just fell down after I passed").

Based on Georgia's accident statistics from 2004-2006, more than half (55%) of recorded deaths from car vs bicycle crashes occurred when the car and bicycle were traveling in the same direction, when speeds tend to be higher and injuries more severe, highlighting the need for education and enforcement of a safe passing distance.

Georgia is now one of seven states with a proposed 3 foot passing law: HB 988 was introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives by Wendell Willard of Roswell. Please encourage your state representative to support this bill. Its passage will increase safety for all of our roads' users. For more information on the merits of this bill, please visit
http://bicyclecampaign.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/White_Paper_3_Feet.pdf

* Thanks to Drew Wade with Savannah Bicycle Campaign for drafting the above statement!

Athens featured in March "Bicycling"

Bicycling magazine profiles Athens in its March issue.

Click the image below for a larger version of the hard-copy article.


Their link to Athens rides doesn't seem to be working yet, but we've developed a map of interesting locations and a suggested "Tour of Athens" route.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Democrats re-introduce T-SPLOST

From the AJC:

Citing a failure of state leadership to raise transportation funding, Georgia Democratic leaders on Thursday announced a proposal to allow regional referendums on a penny sales tax for transportation, and to dedicate part of the current gas tax for any transportation purpose, including operating a mass transit system.

Creating a long-term source of operating funds could clear the way to compete for federal grants to build new local transit projects, transportation officials said.

Almost all of the Georgia gas tax currently goes to transportation, but one cent per dollar goes to the state’s general fund. The part that goes to transportation can only be spent on roads and bridges, not mass transit.

GA loses out on even more transit funding

As if the loss of high speed rail funding wasn't painful enough, AJC comes in with this late hit.

The Federal Transit Administration on Tuesday published a list of 27 transit projects recommended for $1.8 billion in federal funding. Georgia wasn’t on it.

It couldn’t be. Georgia had no proposals up for consideration, FTA spokesman Paul Griffo said.

In contrast to the high-speed rail grants last week, these recommendations would fund development of local transit projects such as new bus and streetcar lines.
...

Rail advocates last week blamed Georgia’s loss of high-speed rail money on the state’s past indifference to rail transit.

"If you don’t have operating money, nobody’s going to give you the money you need to build lines," said Lee Biola, president of Citizens for Progressive Transit. "Other states are investing in other ways of traveling [than by car] and they are becoming competitors when it comes to luring businesses and high-tech workers to their states."

If it wasn't clear before, it's clear now: Georgia's old boy network of back-slapping car dealers, sprawl builders, and road pavers will keep us mired in gridlocked traffic, smog, and ugly landscapes until we demand something better.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bus ad revenue lower than expected

Banner-Herald reports:

Athens-Clarke County is cutting short its contract with a local firm that sells advertising on Athens Transit buses because the program is making less money than officials expected.
...

The Athens-Clarke Commission is likely to vote tonight to opt out of a two-year contract with The Summit Agency on June 30, after just one year.

The deal guarantees the county at least $75,000 per year in revenue, with the county and the agency splitting anything over that amount. After seven months, the agency has sold only $33,000 worth of ads, Athens Transit Director Butch McDuffie said.

...

The economy and a restrictive policy on what types of ads Athens Transit will accept are responsible for the poor sales, McDuffie said.

The county does not accept alcohol-related, sexual, political or religious advertising.

Commissioners adopted the policy on Athens-Clarke Attorney Bill Berryman's recommendation to head off potential lawsuits if they turned down a controversial ad to avoid the appearance that the government is endorsing a religious or political message.

...

When the county's contract with The Summit Agency ends June 30, the commission could opt to stop selling ads, hire another agency to sell them or sell them in-house. [Commissioner Kelly] Girtz said he favors continuing to sell ads.

Is the county policy too cautious? Isn't some money better than none? This is the first time this strategy has been attempted with Athens Transit, so it's to be expected that there might be some hurdles, especially in the current economic conditions.

Plenty of transit systems successfully utilize bus ads to supplement their operating budgets. We hope the commission and Athens Transit can address the challenges and continue exploring this needed funding opportunity.

Let the Commission know your thoughts on the matter.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Back to School Bike Sale!

BikeAthens' Bike Recycling Program is having a Back To School Bike Sale this Sunday February 7th at the Bike Recycling Program Shop in the Chase Street Warehouses off Tracy St.

We'll have 20 freshly refurbished bicycles for sale including something for just about every type of rider. All bikes have passed a 78 point inspection and are in excellent operating condition. We've got road bikes, mountain bikes, touring bikes, hybrids, cruisers, and kids bikes for sale. Treks, Cannondales, Schwinns, Shoguns, Specializeds, and Giants.

Prices range from $50 to $500. Stop by and check out our supply this Sunday from 1 pm to 3 pm.

Directions to the sale here.

Photos of available bicycles below:

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sidewalk biking debate continues

Local Reps. "Doug McKillip, D-Athens, and Ed Lindsey, R-Atlanta, introduced House Bill 965 this week, [which] would give local governments the option of allowing bicycles on sidewalks," reports today's Banner-Herald.

I stated my opinion publicly, but I'll reiterate it by re-posting a comment from the ABH website:
Sidewalks might be ok for kids and folks wishing to putter, but there is no way a sidewalk is safe for even for the speeds a newbie on a road bike can make. Most road bike groups are going to average 14-18 mph, maybe a bit slower on hills, but that is pretty close. Elite groups will be faster, and some riders will be slower. While bikes may delay you a few seconds on your journey, it is safer for pedestrians, pets, and the bikers themselves, to have them on the road at those speeds than on a narrow unregulated sidewalk.

By definition, bikes are "traffic" and have the same rights to the road as slow drivers, garbage trucks, busses, postmen, etc., and any other vehicle that might slow you down. Share the road works when everyone is respectful and considerate.
While I agree with the above 100%, I recognize my opinion is informed by my experiences on Prince, Milledge, and Lumpkin. Any thoughts from other commuting corridors? I'd like to hear both cyclists' and pedestrians' perspectives.

If you don't want to comment here on the blog, respond to the poll on the right!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bad news/Good news

The bad news:
Our great state's short-sighted, issue-neglecting leaders have squandered the chance for millions in high speed rail money.

Georgia appears to have won as little as $750,000 from the $8 billion pool of high-speed rail grants.
...
Last fall, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a number of states, including Georgia and Florida, that they had better get their act together on rail transit or risk losing out on the high-speed rail grants.

In a special session weeks later, Florida voted additional annual funding for one transit rail line and expedited buying track for another.
What did Georgia's legislators do? Not a thing. And what are they doing now? Talking about more tax cuts for big business (and campaign contributors) and ethics re-form.

All of which nets us, the traffic and air pollution-beleaguered residents of the state, with .0094% of the federal funding available for high speed inter-city rail.

The good news?

Maybe folks will finally get fired up about the ridiculous priorities of our state government and demand some actual governance, the kind that faces reality and seeks informed solutions to our common problems.

Gov. Perdue sure likes talking the talk. Will we ever see any action? That's largely up to us. We'll have to drag our highway-loving legislature kicking and screaming, but we can make it happen.

Let your legislator know how disappointed you are!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Share your commute

Inspired by this bike commuter diary, we're looking for some show-and-tell from Athens' bike, transit, and pedestrian commuters.

Send us a narrative, photographic, and/or mapped description of your commuting route in Athens, and we'll share it here on the blog and on our website. We encourage you to share your thoughts on the route, including ways it could be improved, what you like about it, interesting experiences, etc.

Please submit to chair[at]bikeathens.com

We look forward to hearing your story!

UPDATE
We have one submission in the comments below! And, here's a short video of my walking commute from New Town to campus. The intro has a 3-4 second delay for some reason. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Republican gov candidate snubs T-SPLOST

A Republican candidate for governor, state Sen. Jeff Chapman (R-Brunswick), says he can't "support a new sales tax to partially fund transportation improvements."

"Their needs for transportation in South Georgia are much different," Chapman said. "I don't know that they'd be supportive of a statewide sales tax. The sales tax aspect of it would be a new tax. I can't imagine a worse time to increase people's taxes."

The T-SPLOST plan we'd prefer in Athens-Clarke is a local one. Let every county, or MPO region, decide if it wants a T-SPLOST. If Moultrie doesn't want or need better public transit, that's fine, but at least give us the opportunity to decide for ourselves. Under current state law, we can't even vote on the issue, one way or another.

With even a modest T-SPLOST in place, we'll be able to expand public transit, improve our sidewalks, and make our roads safer for all users.

World's 11 bike-friendliest cities

The list-loving folks at Virgin Vacations have ranked the world's 11 most bicycle friendly cities:

1. Amsterdam, Netherlands
2. Portland, Oregon, USA
3. Copenhagen, Denmark
4. Boulder, Colorado, USA
5. Davis, California, USA
6. Sandnes, Norway
7. Trondheim, Norway
8. San Francisco, California, USA
9. Berlin, Germany
10. Barcelona, Spain
11. Basel, Switzerland

The League of American Bicyclists explains why bicycle use should be encouraged:

• 40% of all trips are within two miles of the home
50% of the working population commutes five miles or less to work
• more than 82% of trips five miles or less are made by personal motor vehicle
• American households devote18% of every dollar spent on mobility
• 98% of which is for the purchase, operation, and maintenance of automobiles
• American families spend more on driving than health care, education or food
more than one-third of the poorest families' income goes to transportation

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

BikeAthens Treasurer provides bike rack to city hall

Our Treasurer, Peter Norris, crafted the new bike rack at city hall downtown. Check it out!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Perdue hopes to delay T-SPLOST

As if we can afford another year of inaction, AJC reports that "Gov. Sonny Perdue just lifted the lid off what will be [the] biggest foray of his administration into the transportation issue. "

Lowlights:

A one-penny sales tax would be pushed to 2012, a presidential election year. The vote would be statewide, but voters would be divided into 12 regions. Regions that approve the vote would get the sales tax revenue generated in that district. Regions that don’t approve it won’t get anything.

– The 2012 vote would be approved this session by the Legislature, by majority vote of both chambers. We’re not exactly sure how this works, and look forward to getting more details.

The timing of the vote is significant. Perdue said that the delay would allow the economy to right itself first. Republican legislative leaders said this week they didn’t think a statewide referendum would pass anywhere in the state.

The irony is that Republican leaders in Georgia may be relying on a 2012 surge of general election voters – drawn by Barack Obama’s re-election bid – to finally put more money into transportation.

The timing may also be intended to defuse transportation as an issue in the 2010 race for governor.

Clearly, Perdue is much more interested in political maneuvering than he is in actually governing the state.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Work begins on College Station Rd bridge!

At last:

Workers began clearing out trees this week to make way for a new bridge off College Station Road near Riverbend Road.

The bridge will provide access to an Athens-Clarke sewer treatment plant under construction beside the North Oconee River near Horsehoe Bend and will open up an adjacent tract of University of Georgia-owned land for development.

UGA and the Athens-Clarke government will split the $3 million cost of the bridge, said County Manager Alan Reddish.

Construction will take about a year, and the bridge will include bike lanes and a pedestrian walkway that Reddish said can be tied into the county's river greenway program.

-from the ABH

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Time for T-SPLOST

Frow our friends at Citizens for Progressive Transit:
The Georgia General Assembly needs to approve a long-term plan to fund transit. For the past two years, the legislature has come excruciatingly close to passing a bill that could let counties join together to form regional transportation funding districts. Once established, those districts could seek voter approval to levy Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes ("T-SPLOSTs") for transportation uses including transit. In 2008, the Georgia House passed T-SPLOST legislation, but the Senate balked. In 2009, the Senate passed T-SPLOST legislation, but the House balked. This year, these legislative shell games need to end.

Not only could an Atlanta-area T-SPLOST district provide a broader funding base for MARTA, it could help build the world class transit system the region so desperately needs. Now is the time for transit advocates to get in touch with their legislators. You can find contact information for your state senator and your state representative at www.legis.state.ga.us/legis


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

No more sidewalk riding

The ACC commission voted unanimously Tuesday to ban people over the age of 12 from riding bicycles on sidewalks, bringing Athens-Clarke County into compliance with state law.

I applaud this vote. While it may seem safer to ride on the sidewalk, it's more dangerous than riding on the street. For adults, street cycling is a better idea for a number of reasons:

1) Drivers are not expecting bicycles on the sidewalk when they enter and leave driveways. Every curb cut, side street, and entry/exit drive is an opportunity for a quick-moving cyclist to be cut off or hit by an unwary motorist. Biking on the street ensures that cars see you and know what to expect from you, provided you wear visible clothing and ride safely & predictably!

2) Sidewalks are for pedestrians. Sharing sidewalk space is fine on a wide paved surface like the Greenway, but, on typical sidewalks, sharing the space with pedestrians increases the likelihood of a collision.

3) Bicycles are vehicles. Under state law and common sense, bicycles are vehicles. Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilites as motorists and should take full advantage of public infrastructure.

Stay warm & ride safely!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010