Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Heels (only) on wheels

Having a baby now, and not yet having a good way to carry him on the bike, I find myself mostly commuting by train. Weekends are by foot, transit, or (alas) car. Until baby can sit well in a seat - or I can afford a bakfiets - I have few chances to bicycle anywhere. Running errands on my office bike, pictured, is the majority of it. And I get a bicycle commute a couple of times a month on my husband's days off. I know riding in high heels still seems far-fetched to some, but it's my favorite way to roll!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mayor on wheels

Have you seen this great photo on Flickr of Mayor Reed bicycling along the BeltLine? Cycle chic indeed! And kudos to Cameron Adams for capturing the moment.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Baby is six months old now, and I am drooling over family bicycle options. I think it's between this Christiania trike, the Christiania 2 wheel bakfiets, or a classic bakfiets from Workcyclesor American-made CETMA. The trike is for sale over at Houndstooth Road in Decatur... Anyone know where I can test ride a 2 wheel bakfiets?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Atlanta's first, um, contra-track-path thingy

The Fifth Street bicycle lane has been a valuable low-traffic connection between Midtown West/ Georgia Tech and Midtown East/ Virginia Highland/ Old Fourth Ward (and now the BeltLine). But there was always the tricky spot at one-way W. Peachtree St where Fifth jogged and you couldn't travel eastbound on it without going the wrong way or on the sidewalk for half a block. At one point, Tech had a driveway that made the connection, but they replaced it with a plaza...

Now, there is a new facility to address this problem. Cyclists continuing east on Fifth follow a ramp that takes them upstream so they are aligned with the next segment of the Fifth Street bike lane using a reallocated portion of the sidewalk. It is being referred to as a cycle track, although it is different from tracks I have seen - it is marked with paint rather than separated by curbing or pavement surface, and it is along the back of the sidewalk. But it does get you where you need to go.

For westbound traffic, I'm told there is now a "Copenhagen left turn" in which you stop beside the bike lane and wait for the green light on the cross street. I'm afraid I didn't see it as I had merged over to the left lane before my turn, as usual. Lanes are marked with green paint and directional arrows through the intersection. It is a pilot project, so city and state transportation departments will try to learn from its performance.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The BeltLine, or Atlanta grows a spine

The promise of the BeltLine started to come true last saturday. Although the eastside section of the path wasn't quite finished - entrances weren't paved and there was no lighting - it was open to the public during Atlanta Streets Alive.  As always, I was astounded by the latent bicycle culture that materializes anytime there are nice routes provided.

If you thought the only potential path riders in Atlanta were some spandex-clad athletes and maybe a few people with a cheap bike in the back of the garage, well, nothing could be further from the truth. Friends and families zipped along, going to restaurants, visiting neighbors, and finally stopping at the party at Ponce City East as it got dark. The bicycles rolling past me were as diverse and as stylish as the people riding them. I was with hope for the city's future.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Atlanta Streets Alive

We caught just the last few minutes of ASA this past weekend. A few minutes watching the astounding volume of bicycles, skateboards, strollers, people... Then they started letting cars through again and the traffic dwindled away. But for those few minutes, Atlanta once again showed its potential to be great. It's all about the people, getting a brief chance to live the way they want to live.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Equal treatment

At Five Points, police take the "No Turns" restriction seriously - car or bicycle, you'll get a ticket.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Georgia to accommodate bicycles on all state roads

Georgia has reached a neww milestone today with the Department of Transportation's adoption of a routine accommodation policy. Similar to "complete streets" laws, this policy ensures that road project planners and engineers will consider motor vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic requirements.

The policy is a much needed shift from recent decades, which have left the state with an inventory of public infrastructure that cannot safely or efficiently handle pedestrian and bicycle traffic. As a result, we have been unprepared for the travel demands of aging baby boomers who can no longer drive, or post-suburban Gen Y households seeking traditional walkable neighborhoods. Not to mention, of course, the extra costs, the added safety risks, the lost mobility for Georgia residents due to a lack of alternatives to driving.

After today, our roads can be appropriately configured for actual traffic conditions, not an imaginary world in which every person gets behind the wheel for every single trip. I expect to see vast improvements in mobility, safety, health, and productivity as these guidelines get implemented.

Of course, it will still be important for community members and representatives to show up at planning meetings and project hearings. This policy doesn't mean putting bike lanes on every road, willy nilly. There are many types of bicycle amenities and they are appropriate in different settings depending on car, truck, and bicycle traffic volume, speed limit, etc. - including shared lanes, bike lanes, buffered lanes, side paths, cycletracks, and more. Plus, GDOT really doesn't have any data about bicycle usage, nor do they have any estimates of the number of people who need to bicycle along a particular route but are prevented by the current road design.

To learn more about the new policy and all of the great work that went into it, please visit the Georgia Bikes website!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Commerce Drive has a curb cut!

It's one of those small details you never notice until you are trying to navigate it by bicycle... The lack of a curb cut at the western junction of Commerce Dr and Freedom Path in Decatur meant that cyclists heading to this side of town either had to exit the path a 1/2 mile early, miss their turn, or jump their bike off a steep curb. This simple, inexpensive upgrade will do a lot for mobility in the corridor.

In the bigger picture, many transportation engineers are still trying to wrap their heads around the difference between a bicycle access point (basically a driveway) and a pedestrian access point which needs ADA accommodations. Not to mention the unique routing that bicycles need to re-enter the roadway correctly from a shared-use path.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Quebec's busy bicycle path

I was in Quebec City on a beautiful Labor Day weekend... It seemed like half the province was out on this path along the St.Lawrence - some for a short jaunt, while others appeared to be on a multi-day trip. I would too with a route like that! While subject to some of the same flaws as US paths (intersecting driveways had traffic precedence), it was still a great route. I'm told it connects to a path that goes all the way to Montreal. Intown, it went right to the main farmers market, train station, historic district, and ferry.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Quebec City - Grande Allee in the morning

The morning after the Madonna concert (which is not why I was there!)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Moreland Avenue

One thing that has changed in recent years is how bicycle riders regard the major roads that connect key destinations. Moreland connects East Atlanta, Little Five Points, Druid Hills, and more, but many people have found it too intimidating by bicycle. Not any more, it seems. I saw at least 7 cyclists in an hour of traffic-watching at Edgewood Retail.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

$260 Billion Dollars of Highways

By now you may have heard about the new U.S. House transportation bill. It spends $260 billion in under 5 years, cuts Amtrak funding, eliminates funding for the state bicycle and pedestrian coordinator position, reduces transit funding, and changes performance measures to make bicycle and pedestrian project (or project components) less competitive.

Some lawmakers oppose funding bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure because they see it as some sort of elitist, anti-suburban threat to their way of life. Because, you know, it would be un-American to give people a choice about the type of community to live in or the way to travel around it. Other lawmakers are less punitive, but do not recognize the contribution of walking and bicycling to national mobility.

Looking at the numbers, of course, we can get an idea of the importance of these travel modes - 12% of all trips, up to 20% or more of trips to work in central urban areas, additional trips to access transit, and a primary method of mobility for many of our poor, elderly, and disabled citizens. What would happen if these trips could not be made?

Can the national economy survive if, say, an additional 5% of the population became unemployed because they couldn't get to work?

Could we absorb those extra 12% of trips as car trips on our streets and highways, when we can't even afford to maintain or expand our current system? Even if we could, would we want more traffic?

How much would our national economy suffer from the effects of lost productivity due to higher fuel expenditures, extra congestion, lost vitality in urban hubs, lost tourism, and additional sedentary behavior?

Are we willing to pay the costs - in death, disability, and an estimated $300 billion a year in economic impacts - of increased car crashes? 

Finally, federally-funded transportation projects always have a local match funding portion, which is derived from sales taxes, property taxes, general funds comprising income taxes and fees, as well as some state fuel taxes. Most of those taxes are paid by everyone, whether they can drive or not. Is it unjust to spend their taxes without any planning or coordination for their mobility, access, or safety?

We could make all our roads look like this!

Here's a copy of the comments that I sent to my representative through the League of American Bicyclists website:

"As your constituent I am contacting you today to urge you to vote YES on the Petri amendment to preserve dedicated funding for biking and walking in the American Energy and Infrastructure Act that will appear before the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) this week. If you are not on the committee, please urge your colleagues to vote for the Petri amendment.

We have a responsibility to coordinate bicycle and pedestrian accommodations in federal transportation funding:

• At least 12% of trips made in the US are made by walking or bicycling, including trips to work.
• Nearly one-third of Americans cannot drive, including children, many senior citizens, people with disabilities, and the working poor. The average senior citizen will outlive their ability to drive by at least seven years.
• However, they all contribute to transportation funding through the local match portion of transportation projects, which often comes from sales, income, and property taxes.
• Federally funding transportation projects without guaranteeing that they will include bicycle or pedestrian accommodations where needed is just another form of taxation without representation.

The current version of the American Energy and Infrastructure Act would reverse twenty years of fair funding:

• It would destroy Transportation Enhancements which many states use to fund essential bicycle or pedestrian investments
• It would repeal the Safe Routes to School program, which has been reducing school traffic and school transportation costs
• It would allow states to make major investments, such as bridges, without planning safe access for pedestrians and bicycles - potentially triggering an expensive retrofit or else contributing to loss of life
• It would eliminate bicycle and pedestrian coordinators in state DOTs
• It would eliminate language that insures that new safety features do not create additional hazards for road users

If you are not on the (T&I) committee, please urge your colleagues to vote for the Petri amendment.

Programs such as Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School give communities in our district access to resources to build facilities that keep people safe on our streets.  They provide local governments with the certainty that there will be funds available for projects important to their cities and towns.  It is essential that the T&I Committee vote to save funding for biking and walking projects.

Biking and walking are critical for keeping our communities mobile with healthy and affordable transportation options, for preventing deaths and disability, and for keeping our economic centers functioning.

Please support the vote to preserve funding for biking and walking in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Thursday. I look forward to hearing back from you about your position and actions. Thank you for standing up for me on this important issue."