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, February 24, 2010


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


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."

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

* 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: