The Georgia Bikes Blog

New report highlights needed improvements in local policies

With continuing support from Voices for Healthy Kids, we are working with a number of Georgia cities to see adoption and implementation of best practices Complete Streets policies. An essential principle that guides a "best practice" policy is that the policy should focus on the needs, health and mobility outcomes for historically underserved communities. In too many neighborhoods, where many people already bike, walk and use transit, infrastructure investments are few and far between or have been planned and constructed without meaningful engagement with the affected community.

To help guide our work toward achieving more equitable policies, we enlisted the help of Naomi Doerner, an Equity Strategist, to review and assess several local policies in Georgia.

Excerpt:

Regardless of the individual circumstances of a place, it’s widely acknowledged that accessible transportation is a – if not the – lifeline for sustained economic opportunity, prosperity and vitality for individuals and communities. Without healthy transportation options – people and communities are significantly and detrimentally weakened and often suffer poor outcomes across a variety of livability and quality-of-life indicators. Therefore, policies and funding mechanisms that support transportation planning and projects are of vital importance. Transportation ensures that people have equitable access to physical mobility – the ability of all people, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, ability and/or socioeconomic status, to safely pass through public spaces and travel to and from the places they need and want to go – and economic mobility – the ability for all people to access employment opportunities, affordable housing and accumulate wealth.

 

Several counties, cities and regions within Georgia have Complete Streets resolutions or policies on the books, however implementation has lagged, and much needed improvements for non-motorized road user safety have not been pursued to the fullest opportunity.

 

For the purposes of the analyzing and evaluating Complete Streets equity, research and analysis was conducted on the five priority cities identified where resolutions or policies had already been adopted and the greatest potential for equitable implementation exists. Those five cities are: Athens, Columbus, Gainesville, Milledgeville, and Savannah.

Key recommendations for all of the cities include:

1.     Form a Complete Streets Advisory Council

2.     Use an Equity Impact Assessment Tool

3.     Develop a Complete Streets Implementation Work Plan & Checklist

4.     Prioritize Complete Streets Investments in Traditionally Underserved Communities

Our thanks to Ms. Doerner, local partners, and everyone who helps advance safe, balanced transportation options in Georgia. Our hope is that this analysis will fuel productive conversations in these cities - and beyond - to foster needed safety and quality of life improvements in a fair and equitable manner.

For specific recommendations for these five Georgia cities, read the full report.

Three GA universities recognized as Bicycle Friendly

The League of American Bicyclists announced 51 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Universities, and Georgia had an exceptionally strong showing with three major institutions joining or moving up the ranks.

“In its fifth year, we’ve seen the Bicycle Friendly University program’s momentum continue to grow and reach even more campuses across the country,” said Bill Nesper, [League] Programs Director. “We applaud this round of BFUs for raising the standard and being innovative in making bicycling a safe, convenient and enjoyable option for students, staff and visitors alike.”

Congratulations to Georgia Tech, our state's first Gold-level Bicycle Friendly University! 

Big high five to Emory University for moving from Bronze to Silver, and we're glad to see our state's flagship institution, the University of Georgia, recognized at the Bronze level. 

Goooo Jackets, Eagles and Dawgs!

Kudos also to Columbus State University for receiving an Honorable Mention. We look forward to your Bronze award in the near future!

GA Gives Day

November 17th is Georgia Gives Day, a statewide celebration of nonprofits and charities that do important work to make Georgia a safer, healthier, more just state. If you support our mission to promote and improve bicycling throughout Georgia, please make a tax-deductible gift. Thank you for your generous support!

South GA Regional Commission Receives National Award for Transportation Planning

Congrats to our friends at SGRC!

Exciting news via press release:

The Southern Georgia Regional Commission, as the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Valdosta and Lowndes County, received the National Award for Outstanding Overall Achievement in Metropolitan Transportation Planning for cities under 200,000 population last week in Fort Worth, Texas at the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations Annual Conference.

The award recognizes the work of local governments to develop an innovative planning process and coordinate local and regional planning efforts for the benefit of the greater community. In 2013, the SGRC started a nearly 30 month process to update our long-range transportation plan. Local leaders saw the opportunity to combine the efforts of a socioeconomic data study and developing a vision and goals with other planning efforts underway in the community, including a comprehensive plan and a housing plan. The staff of the SGRC led the efforts for the development of a Common Community Vision for Lowndes County alongside the 2040 Transportation Vision Plan.

The 2040 Transportation Vision Plan includes 18 goals that relate to the ways in which transportation can positively impact education, workforce development, public health and safety, natural resources, tourism, and utility infrastructure. Building on the successful public and stakeholder involvement that took place during the development of the Common Community Vision, the input for the Transportation Vision Plan for the Valdosta-Lowndes County MPO included sessions where the public could vote on transportation projects, prioritize the transportation goals, and vote on the allocation of more than $1 Billion in transportation funds over the next 25 years. This input helped our local leaders prioritize and develop a Transportation Vision Plan. This Plan includes a Complete Streets Strategy, an Intersection Improvement Strategy that prioritizes safety, and an Active, Healthy Lifestyles Strategy that encourages each local government to spend at least $500,000 annually on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and safety education programs such as Safe Routes to School.

Bicycling Thomasville, GA - Past & Future

In the Spring 2016 issue of Georgia Backroads magazine, authors William Warren Rogers and Robert Holladay describe a "bicycle craze" that swept through Thomasville, GA in the 1890's, prompting construction of "wide pathways, trails and circular tracks linked to the town’s network of existing roads" for people riding bikes.

Like many cities in the US at the time, residents and visitors to Thomasville "enthusiastically embraced a new mode of transportation called the bicycle." Bicycles seemed to find an especially receptive audience in Thomasville, a south Georgia city popular with tourists who believed its "pine-scented air held the promise of physical improvement."

The article goes on to describe a vibrant, bike-friendly atmosphere in Thomasville:

Men and women contributed to bicycling’s phenomenal popularity in Thomas County. For any number of reasons — utilitarian, sport, or simple pleasure — bicycles immediately became popular. It was a natural fit for guests searching for relaxation, restoration, and pleasure in a warm and varied setting. In l886 a local resident wrote in the Thomasville Times, “This mode of transportation is growing in popularity everywhere.”

Today, a new generation of bicyclists in Thomasville is looking to revive this healthy, enjoyable form of transportation and recreation. I Bike Thomasville, an emerging advocacy organization, just started an online petition calling for a Complete Streets conversion of a local street to make it safer for families who want to walk and bike.

For the full, fascinating story on bicycling's heyday in south Georgia, check out the full article here.

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