Friday, December 11, 2009

Regional Variation

A student uses a milk crate to carry books to campus

The running joke in Atlanta is that everyone who lives here is from somewhere else. It isn't true at all; I know tons of people who grew up in the Atlanta area. But in spite of this perception (or maybe because of it), the area is exceedingly hostile towards outside ideas. The local citizenry doesn't want to do things the way they are done in Boston or NYC or Europe. Maybe we will take a few leads from Charlotte, Houston, or other southern cities.

Those who do move here from somewhere else often wonder why the transit service is so limited and the roads so dangerous. Most shrug and just start driving everywhere. A few start or join advocacy groups, or just find a way to buck the trend.

An Atlanta cyclist prepares to cross a four-lane thorougfare

Another rumor is that Atlantans love their cars. In my experience, Atlanta residents don't really enjoy driving at all, they are just afraid of the alternative. They are afraid of crime and traffic and taking too long to get anywhere and getting stranded. Of course, fewer motorists and more pedestrians and cyclists would make the streets safer. We do need more transit options, more street connections, and more conveniently located development to make it ideal.

But a lot of people are just getting out of their cars and going places anyway. And as they do, Atlanta is starting to evolve a pedestrian culture and a bicycle culture. So far, it is almost a subculture. But as the trends continue, it is likely that we will develop local styles and customs. How will Atlanta's culture, climate, history, and geographical character be expressed through bicycling?

1 comment:

  1. i love this post! i just stumbled across your blog by chance and can't get enough. i lived in atlanta not too long ago and got around on foot or on MARTA. whenever people found out about my "alternative lifestyle" they had to ask how it was working out for me, as though it was the craziest idea in the world and i'd one day end up stranded/lost/soaked/dead. i always wanted to bike to work (my commute was from the west end to mechanicsville down RDA, which had a bike path!), but never got around to buying a bike, sadly. reading about so many intown cyclists is inspiring, though... if i move back to ATL i'll definitely look into my biking options!