News, updates, commentary and more from BikeAthens. BikeAthens is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Athens, GA. BikeAthens promotes transportation and land-use policies that improve alternative modes of transportation, including pedestrian, cycling, and public transit options. The mission of our organization is to make alternative transportation a practical, convenient, and safe option for all citizens of Athens-Clarke County.

Sunday, 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