3/19: Cycling improvements needed?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Are you a bicyclist who rides two abreast with friends or family for safety on Georgia roads?

Are you a motorist who struggles to safely pass herds of bikers on city streets?

We would like to hear from you – your hopes, frustrations and experiences – for a package on cycling improvements needed in metro Atlanta.

We plan to print a selection of comments on an upcoming Atlanta Forward page in the AJC. Tell us what you think below.

28 comments Add your comment

Sage

March 22nd, 2012
10:52 am

I have been bicycling to work for about 40 years. Most of my cycling was here in Atlanta, but I’ve also lived in FL and CA. Experienced riders will eventually develop “Bike Sense”. You know which roads you can ride on and which roads to avoid. You also know what to do as a cyclist to not cause problems for automobile drivers. I attended elementary school in FL and they taught us the rules of the road for bicycles. Do any of our schools teach kids the rules? Its not just knowing the law. You really don’t want your tombstone to read ” I had the right of way”…
While I think a seperate trail like PATH is the answer to cycling in Atlanta, other cities are experimenting with physically seperated bikes lanes.

Not Just Infrastructure

March 21st, 2012
12:57 pm

Dangerous behavior on the parts of both cyclists and drivers will impede any progress Atlanta envisions for making itself more bike-accessible. We need to improve awareness on both sides of how to handle themselves safely, and increase enforcement of moving violations (of everyone!)

Wendy Mann

March 21st, 2012
8:32 am

It is about safe driving, bicycing, and walking. The streets and sidewalks, if you are lucky enough to have one, are for everyone not just motorists. They are for mothers with children in strollers, people in wheelchairs, joggers and walkers. Bicycling and walking are about decreasing traffic congestion, improving health, reducing chronic disease, having fun, and revitalizing communities. Laws and education important in getting people to do these activities safely. Tens of thousands of people bicycle in countries outside the U.S.and in those countries they but not enough. It is about increasing the numbers of bicycists and walkers, but this won’t happen without a safer built environment for them. There are a few brave souls who venuture out into the bustling roads of Atlanta, but they are the exception not the norm. For the “norm” to happen you need safe routes for bicylists such as simple barriers that separate them from cars, not just a sharrow slapped down in the middle of a busy road.. Some U.S. cities have been being proactive in making safer infrastructures for bicycilsts and walkers. It’s time for Atlanta to catch up with those other cities.

Ken Boff

March 20th, 2012
10:20 pm

I took a course in effective cycling through Atlanta Bicycle Coalition years ago to learn how to ride in urban traffic. It was a revelation to learn that it is indeed safe and practical to bicycle in the city, mixed in with cars, trucks, motorcycles and pedestrians. In my daily commute from Grant Park to Midtown, I rarely get honked at or harassed by motorists because I practice safe cycling, and I know the basics of lane positioning, hand signals, staying visible and being predictable on my bike at all times. When I have failed to do so, this is when I have been honked at.

Susan

March 20th, 2012
6:46 pm

Frankly, the problem is motorists, and social norms regarding the right of motorists to get to where they are going without any impediments. Drivers in Atlanta and the US are very aggressive and in general not trained to handle things other than cars in the roadway. I cycled all over Paris in busy round-a-bouts and streets and felt far safer than I have ever felt on any street in Atlanta. There seems to be little frustration on the part of Parisian drivers regarding having to be on the watch and make adjustments to allow cyclists to travel safely.

The state of Georgia should add additional information to drivers’ manuals and driver’s license tests regarding procedures for insuring bicyclists’ safety, and Atlanta should undertake information campaigns and create policy to change social norms, much like the seat belt efforts. Of course, the pedestrian situation in Atlanta is perilous as well – few people know one is required by law to stop if someone is in a street cross-walk.

Our city would reap many economic benefits if over time Atlanta became known as a walking and cycling friendly city. We need to look at the big picture of livability – these are not just airy fairy musings. Talented people working in leading areas of commerce (e.g.high tech) are making decisions regarding where they will live based on these livability factors, such as walkability, and Atlanta must take these factors seriously to compete with other locales in the economic development arena.

Connie K.

March 20th, 2012
5:25 pm

I sold my car when I moved to Atlanta six years ago, and I get around almost exclusively by bicycle. I think that part of the problem in Atlanta is simply that most drivers here are not cyclists. They don’t understand why taking the lane for a period of time might be a safer option for a cyclist than hugging the curb.

In potentially dangerous situations, I find that taking the lane makes my situation safer. When I do take the lane, I find that I rarely hold someone up for more than about 15 seconds. But when we’re behind the wheel of a car, slowing down for 15 seconds feels like an eternity. Still, I would rather have an angry motorist stuck behind me honking his horn for 15 seconds because I’m taking the lane, than knocking me off of my bike while trying to squeeze past me in a narrow lane.

I used to be a cyclist who wove through traffic downtown and ran red lights. Over time, though, I learned that 99% of the time, motorists tend to treat me with more respect if I obey traffic laws. (That said, there are some traffic light sensors around Atlanta that simply can’t detect bicycles, so I do run the occasional red light if I’m certain that there is no oncoming traffic.)

Mela

March 20th, 2012
4:27 pm

My coworker died riding her bike in the Atlanta area. The auto-driving perp was never determined, just left her there on the side of the road. She lasted a month in the hospital. I would never live in Atlanta and fortunately have excellent bike commuting options in the DC area. Perhaps Atlanta could take a few tips from other cities where bike commuting is given a higher priority. Attitudes can change!

Daniel

March 20th, 2012
3:52 pm

On the topic of education, I want to add that one area ripe for education are the drivers of public vehicles. I have repeatedly had Dekalb Police blow by me within 3 ft, and on two separate occasions, I have had large Dekalb Public Works trucks, in one case pulling a trailer, upset with me for not being on the multi-use path (on way to Stone Mountain), blast their horns at me and eventually just blow past me within three feet. The second time, I really thought I was dead.