Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All You Need is a Bicycle

There was a quote on Copenhagen Cycle Chic the other day that stuck in my mind. It was regarding the role of transportation in climate change mitigation. The gist of it was, while infrastructure is ultimately important to support large numbers of bicycling, at the individual level "all you need is a bicycle."

This is so very true in Atlanta. Despite the dedicated effort and steady progress of many individuals, it will be years - even decades - before we see a meaningful change in the local infrastructure. But bicyclists don't have to wait. The roads are there and all but a handful are legally available to bicycles. If people started cycling in large numbers, the right lane would simply become a de facto bicycle lane.

Sure, this is basically a fantasy right now. And I fully acknowledge that there are many areas in the suburbs where this would still be pretty challenging amongst the high-speed highways, rumble strips, and disconnected subdivisions. But in the city center, it can seem tantalizingly close at times.

Yesterday, I rode out to do some shopping. Shopping by bicycle is super easy here. Many of our best shopping centers are close to MARTA train stations, bicycle routes, or both. Taking your bike on the train is easy and allowed at any time. There is a great website that will help you plan a route by bicycle or bicycle and transit, as well as walking and transit. You can customize it not only by by the distance you are willing to ride, but also by the steepness of the hills and the type of roads!

On the way there, I had one of those moments - I was passing one everyday (non-spandexy) cyclist while another zipped by in the opposite direction. Due to the low-volume holiday week car traffic, we approached about a 50% bicycle mode share for a block or two... At the mall, the Takara felt very lonely.

Can you find the bicycle in this photo? Hint: I had to draw a circle around it!

But as I was leaving, I saw two separate cyclists riding off at the same time, and another bike locked up on the other side of the parking lot. It's a start!


  1. I feel the same when I see another cyclist in Nashville, especially this time of year. Had no idea the ATL had so many shopping centers connected to bike lanes; I'll have to check it out sometime!

  2. Hey, I know that shopping center, it's by my home! There is a great secure spot to park. Continue straight in front of Marshall's and you will see some utility pole cables protected by heavy metal railings, like you would see on rural road curves. Walk your bike in and lock up to the cables, and you are shielded from all motorists.

  3. @Trisha: I feel like I'm seeing more cyclists each year! The numbers are still small overall, but I see at least one or two other riders every time I go out, and more parked bicycles. Days like this one, with at least 7 other cyclists, are becoming more frequent. The cold weather hasn't damped ridership at all, as far as I can tell.

    @Kyle: Good to know! That mall is really convenient; I'm sure I'll be there regularly.