Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Proof - More People are Cycling

We won, we won!

OK, no, we didn't really win anything. But according to the latest figures from the League of American Bicyclists, Atlanta has increased its bicycle commuter share by 111%! From 2008 to 2009, ridership increased from 0.51% to 1.08%, more than doubling the presence of bicycle commuters on the road.

It's still a pretty small number, but it feels great to be out of the zeros... You can also think of it this way - on average, one cyclist will ride past for about every hundred cars that you see. That's enough to start making an impression on people, to make them think that cycling really is a legitimate way to get to work. And these are still 2009 numbers; based on my experience, I would guess that we have continued to increase mode share from 2009 to 2010.

There are some surprises, too. Portland, OR, and Minneapolis both saw a slight decrease in ridership, as did many other cities, including New York City. Atlanta's rate is slightly higher than the average for all 70 cities surveyed.

Atlanta is now ranked 22nd in the U.S. for bicycle commuting. The figures just refer to the City of Atlanta, not the metropolitan region. Data was taken from the American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. Read the press release for more information about this data.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Groovy Bicycles in the Wild

Have you lost your tall bike? This one has been parked at the same spot on Peachtree Street for weeks now.

This is one of the most customized bikes I have ever seen.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

An Evening of Bicycles, Delights, and Good Causes

The fundraiser for Atlanta Streets Alive was last night. It was amazing! There were highly-coveted silent auction items, largely bicycle themed. Tons of people turned out and a fair bit of money was raised. Some market vendors stayed open late, tempting us with delicious pastries and the famous Grindhouse Burgers. There was also a line of food trucks (some of Atlanta's first!) parked outside. I had Asian beef tacos with sesame salad. Bicycles were strewn everywhere.

There were bands, a DJ, and a group of drummers arranged around a dance floor where a woman was teaching dance steps to children. The event was at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, which is large enough to have multiple bands playing at once without interference. The fun continued outside, where a Capoeira team performed their moves in front of the bike valet area.

If you couldn't make it to the event, don't worry - just pop on over to their website to make a donation. And mark your calendar for the main event on October 17th!

Friday, September 24, 2010

How to Make Your City Bikeable

I have just discovered that my bicycle planning hero, Jan Gehl, is the influence behind New York City's vast expansion of bicycle infrastructure. I first heard Mr. Gehl speak at a Rail~Volution conference in about 2006, and was instantly inspired.

He described how Copenhagen had changed, one street at a time, from a lifeless, car choked place to a vibrant city with thriving businesses, healthy and happy people, and some of the best bicycle infrastructure in the world. Of course, the Dutch like to say theirs is the best, but it's really too close to call. Copenhagen never did studies or official bicycle plans. They just added a bike lane on this major street and then another one, replaced a few parking spaces with some café seating, added medians, built plazas.

There's been some debate over the left-side bike lanes in New York. From the perspective of using the West Peachtree Street bicycle lane - and the constant dodging of MARTA and XPress buses that it entails - I am all in favor of finding some way to separate the two. In much of Europe, they construct bus stop islands and route the bike lane behind them. This is ideal, it seems, but probably more costly.

What do you suppose he would suggest for metro Atlanta?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

For Atlanta, Car-Free Day Means Road Rage Day

Maybe it's just because I'm sick. Maybe my clogged sinuses and incessant nose-blowing are clouding my perspective. But it seemed like everyone was being obnoxious yesterday, whether in a car, on a bicycle, or on foot.

The optimist in me wants to think that was due to International Car-Free Day. Perhaps there were so many bicycles and pedestrians on the roads that everyone became disoriented! I hope so. Otherwise how do you explain two cars honking from behind me? And the driver preparing to turn left onto a one-way street, who didn't see me walking in the crosswalk from the other direction and only stopped in time due to my loud screeching?

Then there was the young lady who suddenly swerved from a side street onto the sidewalk, nearly hitting me. Being ill, I was feeling particularly hostile, and yelled at her that riding on the sidewalk is illegal. She said she knew, but called Spring Street "dangerous". It's a street I ride on every day. Intimidating, yes, but lots of people ride on it, and it's not necessarily worse than any other street in Midtown. Riding on the sidewalk was probably putting her in more danger. If my head hadn't been so foggy, I could have told her these things, and emphasized that if she still wanted to get on the sidewalk then she should dismount and walk. But I just grumbled something, probably rude, and turned away. Ironically, I saw several other people riding on Spring Street with great aplomb, just moments before and after this incident.

Lousy picture, stylish bicycle - the girl in the purple shirt executed a flawless turn onto Fifth

No stationary bike at the gym for this guy!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

This Friday, Support Atlanta Streets Alive!

A very special event is taking place on Friday, September 24th - the "Evening at the Curb Market" fundraising event to support Atlanta Streets Alive. If you attended the May event and loved it, or if you were inspired by my post about it, or just think ciclovias are a good idea, then come join us on Friday! You can donate, bid on a groovy auction item, or volunteer.

More about the event, totally plagiarized from Turn down your speaker volume before you click on the links, though.
In celebration of the upcoming Fall 2010 Atlanta Streets Alive! (mark your calendars: it’s happening Sunday, Oct 17th from 1-6pm!) the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, in partnership with City Councilman Kwanza Hall and the Atlanta Street Food Coalition will be hosting an evening of music, dance, drinks, food & shopping at the historic Sweet Auburn Curb Market on Friday, Sept 24th from 6:30-9:00pm.
You’ll be treated to a sneak preview of our fall event with performances from select ASA activities partners (dancing, hooping, martial arts & other surprises), live bluegrass, jazz & DJ, free drinks (beer/wine/etc), a wealth of dinner options from favorite Curb Market restaurants (open late to serve) and some of the city’s best street food vendors. We’ll also have ciclovia film & photography on display, as well as a silent auction benefiting the Oct 17th Atlanta Streets Alive! The event is free to attend, however donations are always welcome.
Come celebrate with us, show your support for the neighborhood, and learn more about one of the most exciting new projects happening within the city of Atlanta & the livable streets movement taking place across the US.
For more information, including participating market vendors, food trucks, auction items, and more, see

Monday, September 20, 2010

Imagining the Future

I attended a meeting a few weeks ago about the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail. Their consulting team - Perkins+Will and James Corner Field Operations (who designed New York City's High Line project) have been hard at work taking the BeltLine trail concept to completion for this segment.

It was exciting to see how the corridor could be transformed.

But there are still many very sticky situations to resolve, and some very big questions looming. It will be a major transportation facility - but what if the City of Atlanta sees it as a park and wants to close it at night? How do you design a "driveway" for bicyclists to get on the trail from nearby streets, while directing pedestrians down to the crosswalk and providing connections for wheelchair users? How wide does it need to be for unknown future volumes of bicycle and pedestrian traffic (and the associated dogs, strollers, trailers, etc.)?

At the moment, certain parts of the project look fairly dire, such as the northern terminus of this trail segment, which enters Monroe Drive about 100 feet north of Tenth Street. Until the entire three-way intersection can be reconstructed, it will be extremely difficult to get on or off the trail. There currently is no crosswalk across Monroe on the northern side of the intersection and no phase of the traffic signal which does not have vehicles moving through that leg of the intersection. Someone walking down the BeltLine to go to Park Tavern or Piedmont Park would have to walk past Tenth, cross Monroe, and cross Tenth, adding at least a minute of delay. Or they can make a run for it north of the intersection - since Kanuga Street, the next street to the north, is not signalized, it is legal to cross mid-block as long as you yield to vehicular traffic.

Bicycles are threatened with a forced dismount here. They would experience considerable delay and have no safe way to re-enter traffic flow on Monroe or Tenth. And of course, very few people would actually dismount and misconceptions about cycling would be reinforced... Adding a curb cut here, and everywhere, has the added challenge of how to prevent it from being mistaken as a continuing path by a blind pedestrian, who then wanders into the road. An important question, but not one that should bring such a major project into uselessness. Especially since ADA violations for blind pedestrians are rampant throughout the city, even on brand new sidewalks, with missing tactile strips at curb cuts, ramps that angle towards the center of the intersection rather than the crosswalk, and crosswalks that change direction without any detectable warning. For the BeltLine, we need some sort of "do not enter" cue. A mountable curb seems like the most obvious option - it would feel like a curb to someone holding a cane, but is only a few inches high and can be ridden over by a cyclist.

The temporary solution for pedestrians may be a new all-red phase at the traffic signal, presumably paired with a pedestrian scramble. But bicyclists cannot really proceed on a pedestrian signal, and would still have to travel on the sidewalk to get to it. The obvious answer to me is an advanced stop bar on southbound Monroe before the Park Tavern driveway (which should not be blocked by traffic anyway). This would create a traffic-free stretch of road that bicycles could enter during the all-red phase. 

Now is the time to deal with these questions - while the designers are still drawing and the BeltLine is still a channel of dirt, gravel, and kudzu. Let's not wait for users to get frustrated, disillusioned, or injured. Let's give this transportation project, and its users, the same level of priority that we would give to a road project. No delays, no long detours, no missing intersections. A reason to travel by bicycle.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bicycling is Contagious

I was quite surprised to learn that two of my neighbors cycled to work today. They'd always been so skeptical of my habits. This comes on top of lots of other promising signs - people who used to ask if a store had free parking now point out that it's easy to bike there. Random folks ask how they can start getting around by bicycle. And I see more and more folks riding around in ordinary work and dress clothes.

You absolutely would not have seen this a year ago in Atlanta. Maybe the occasional rarity, but not every time you stepped outside. I have to wonder where their inspiration came from. Did they just feel like wearing nice clothes and riding a bike, out of the blue? Did they see something on TV or read a blog? Are their friends doing it? Whatever it is, it seems to be spreading rapidly. Could this be you?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Left and Right

No, this isn't commentary on the recent primary elections. It's about those times when a bicyclist shouldn't stay to the right of the lane. For example, pass to the left of a car that is preparing to turn right. The fellow in the white shirt and shoulder bag is in a very bad place:

I've had a couple of terrifying moments recently, when I saw cyclists squeeze by on the right side of cars that were turning right. This guy tried to share a lane that was too narrow, putting himself and other road users in a risky situation. Two blocks later, he zipped by on the right of a car as it started to make a turn into a parking garage. No one expects to be passed on the right when they are in the right lane signalling a turn. That includes bike-on-bike situations too - I've had people squeeze past me on the right as I was turning. Scary!

On the other hand, I have also seen motorists try to make a right turn from the left lane rather than merging (safely) into or behind bicycle traffic in the right lane. This is neither safe, legal, nor practical. After all, there is more traffic behind the cyclist that will have to be dealt with.

There doesn't seem to be total agreement about right turns in a wide right lane or next to a bicycle lane. Many people see the bicycle lane being similar to a crosswalk or sidewalk, meaning that motorist turn across it after yielding to any traffic in that lane. I tend to prefer that drivers merge into the lane so I can pass them on the left, where I know they won't cross my path. This is especially true if it is a wide shared lane without bike lane markings. But I see many drivers get confused by the presence of a cyclist, swinging to the left of the lane so I have room to pass on the right - that just means I have to merge over further in order to pass on the left instead. What do others prefer?

Please drive and ride safely!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More Skirts

I headed to work in one of my long skirts the other day.

I hadn't ridden in it before, but it worked just fine. It is an A-line cut with a slit on the front left side. This allowed my left knee to poke up out of the skirt while pedaling. But it was long enough that nothing was revealed... I did push the fabric further down between my legs in front, just to be modest.

The hem stayed neatly away from chains and spokes. But when I got to work, I discovered the very corner of the hem, next to the slit, had rubbed against the wheel and gotten a few smudges on it. They came out pretty easily in the bathroom, unlike the nasty grease stain I got on an escalator last year! That one has never come out; you can still faintly see it in the top photo.

To prevent any further incidents, I secured the errant bit of hem with a coordinated hair clip. This kept the fabric tucked neatly beside my left knee and unsoiled.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Fair is fair...I have to point out some of the stylish guys I've seen lately. These are all around Tech Square, not because the guys are concentrated there, but just because I'm more likely to have my camera accessible there. Enjoy!
This guy has attitude to spare
Older men on bikes make me feel hopeful...
His shirt just happens to match his shiny blue fenders, right?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Trails Survey

Please take this short online questionnaire about shared use paths and trails. With construction of the first "real" section of the BeltLine trail imminent, it is important to learn from the design of our existing paths and the experiences you have had on them. Thanks!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I've been fielding a number of questions about riding in a skirt, so I thought I would provide a few tips.

In general, cycling in a skirt is no different from wearing anything else. Sure, if you're planning to ride more than 20 miles at one go, I would change into some cycling-specific clothes with padding and no oddly placed seams. But if you are going 5 or 10 miles around town, it's all about the same. It just seems unfamiliar.

Some outfits may give you trouble on a bike. But this is no different from finding that your new skirt bunches up when you walk down the hallway, or gets twisted, or tends to snag on furniture. The only thing that really doesn't work is a tightly-fitted pencil skirt, unless it has a major slit (preferably in the back) or a kick pleat. This black shirt is fairly straight, but the material stretches and there is a 4 inch slit in the back.
A-line skirts, flared skirts, and full skirts are great. I like skirts just above the knee, preferably with a built-in slip. This places silky smooth fabric against your skin for total comfort, and the maximum in coverage. But you still get good air circulation, which is really important in the summer! My cream skirt has a soft slip under a lightweight embroidered cotton fabric with a gentle drape.
I no longer wear the very short skirts that I could get away with 10 years ago! But if you do like short skirts, rest assured that the saddle will keep most things covered. If you are nervous about riding in a skirt at first, or you aren't sure how your shorter skirts will behave, you can always layer a slip, fitted shorts, or even bloomers (a split slip) underneath. I used to wear some fitted ballet shorts under my skirts. But I eventually realized that I had nothing to worry about - nothing above mid-thigh ever seems to show.

If you have a very long, full skirt, there is a chance that it could get caught in your brakes, chain, or wheel, which could cause a crash. A full chain case and skirt guard will prevent this, and may be a good investment if you wear long skirts a lot. If you just need a one-time solution, you can simply gather up part of the hem and secure it with a know, a rubber band, or a hair clip. I prefer clips because they look nice and don't damage fabrics. They can also secure gauzy fabrics that fly around too much.

Having a step through frame makes it more brainless to ride in a skirt, but it's entirely doable on a diamond frame. You just need to keep your knees together as you mount the bicycle, and to have enough fabric to go over the top tube when your feet are on the ground or extended. It's easy!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Go Girls

The cooler weather has brought forth hordes of new riders - or at least folks that I haven't seen before -  particularly women. Trust me, for each picture that turned out decently, there were at least five that I missed, or that didn't come out.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Seersucker Style!

And a good time was had by all...

Atlanta's first "Seersucker Social" started at Woodruff Park at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Including me!
And Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall.

Indra, the organizer of the event, looked smashing in a straw hat, dreamy organza top, seersucker tap pants, and fishnet knee-highs. She was riding a custom city bike with her nickname on the chainguard!
We rode up Peachtree Center Ave., through the midst of the Dragon*Con crowd - they were staring at us as much as we were staring at them! Nearly everyone who saw the ride seemed delighted and intrigued.

The riders were pretty delighted, too.

There were a few families along. This little gal had great traffic skills and easily kept up with the group.

We headed up Peachtree Street, over to Piedmont Park, and then through Virginia-Highland.
Eventually I had to slip off and run some errands...the rest of the group proceeded over to Oakland Cemetery for a picnic (with a popsicle stop en route). Very cool!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bicycle to the Braves

Last weekend, we got some cheap tickets to an Atlanta Braves game. I'm not much of a spectator sports fan, but it's fun once in a while. I scope out the crowd while The Beau cheers and does all of the special chants and gestures.

The stadium isn't far from my house, which makes it very convenient cycling distance. I would generally recommend bicycling there for any fan... The car traffic gets really bad and parking is super expensive. MARTA is a good way to go, but their buses get stuck in traffic sometimes, too. Walking or cycling to the stadium from Georgia State station is probably the second best alternative, if you live far away. The advantage of bicycling is that you can zip past traffic in the nearby bike lanes, bypass all of the barricades around the stadium entrance, and park at the front door. It's about 5 minutes from downtown Atlanta and 15 or 20 minutes from Midtown.

However, we discovered a problem with parking at the front door. Yes, the racks are horrible "wheel-benders" that you can barely get a U-lock around. Yes, there are only about 20 parking spaces for a stadium that seats 50,000. But the worst part is that they block off the area around the bicycle racks for the Friday night fireworks show. So, you have to leave before the game is over or you're stuck there for the next 30 minutes. There is one small sign that tells you this, but it was nowhere near the rack where The Beau and I were parked. In fact, I think it was hidden behind a promotional booth. Fortunately, an understanding security guard let us grab our bikes moments before the fireworks display started. About a dozen other cyclists weren't so lucky.
If Atlanta ever wants to get serious about bicycle parking, this is a good place to start. It could make car traffic and parking less burdensome on local residents. And it would be good for redevelopment in the area. No one should have to park like this at a major public attraction.

Thursday, September 2, 2010