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.

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.

Directions to the sale are here:

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!