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 thorougfareAnother 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?