- Last Updated: Thursday, 07 July 2016 11:39
In its latest digital magazine, the League of American Bicyclists profiles our own award-winning Safety Education Program Manager, Nedra Deadwyler, and offers tips for communities who want to move up to Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community status.
Nedra was honored at the 2016 National Bike Summit as one of the League's 2016 Educators of the Year. We're so proud of her work to teach safe bicycling to Georgians of all ages and of her tireless efforts to inform law enforecement officers in Georgia of bicyclist rights and responsibilities. The full article is available here. Way to go, Nedra!
The second article offers Arlington, VA as a model case study for commuities who want to improve their ranking from Bronze to Silver (all of Georgia's designated BFC's are Bronze...so far!). Top tips:
Last week, I participated in the annual Bicycle Ride Across Georgia, a challenging but enjoyable tour of (mostly) country roads and small towns. Georgia has so much potential to be a major bicycle tourism destination. Our state is beautiful, our towns and cities are filled with history, interesting architecture, and good food.
This was my second BRAG, and I'm glad I did it. I hope to do it again, and I encourage anyone interested in a unique, healthy experience to try bicycle touring, even if only for an overnight trip to a nearby state or national park.
I write this now with a heavy heart, however, and my experience of the ride is deeply bittersweet. When my wife, a friend and I rode into downtown Savannah, we were elated, exhausted, and intensely proud of what we had just accomplished, but our emotions quickly soured and our hearts sank as we learned the horrifying news of what had happened only an hour earlier. Just blocks from the finish line, after riding over 350 miles, some of it in driving rain and among hostile, indifferent motorists, Judy Grossman, a 61 year old BRAG participant from Florida, crashed and was run over by a dump truck. She died later that day from her injuries.
What should have been a joyous moment of celebration with friends and family was turned upside down. Why? How did this happen? By all accounts, the truck driver was obeying the law and cannot be faulted for what happened. But why is a major trucking route situated in the very heart of one of the most walked parts of one of the state's most walked cities? Savannah is certainly aware of the safety issues on Bay St and is thankfully working on solutions. That will come as small consolation to Ms. Grossman's family, and the families of others who have been hit, injured or killed on Bay St.
Bad road design, design that ignores the safety and access of human beings, is largely to blame for this and similar fatal crashes throughout the state. For too long, we have prioritized the high-speed movement of cars and trucks and ignored the safety of families just trying to cross the street or ride to school. Our streets are dangerous by design, and it's way past time to change that.
In a timely coincidence, we hosted a day-long workshop on Monday, June 13th, on how to change and improve our streets. Peter Koonce, a traffic engineer from Portland, OR and a national expert on urban mobility and street design, led the workshop for over thirty traffic engineers and city officials from eleven municpalities and two coastal counties. Half the participants were employeed by the city of Savannah. Attendees were engaged, attentive, and they learned a great deal about safe intersections, protected bike lanes, and other engineering treatments for bicyclist and pedestrian safety. I sincerely hope the lessons learned will help cities like Savannah, Brunswick, Statesboro and Valdosta start improving their streets for the safe movement of people, not just heavy machines.
As Mr. Koonce pointed out, a safe, sensible, and sane transportation netowrk in a city prioritizes people walking and bicycling first, and single-occupancy motor vehicles should be catered to last. Georgia's cities have a long way to go to achieve the safety and quality of life improvements enjoyed by Portlanders, but the design guidance is well known, it's mainstream, and now it's just up to our city leaders to have the vision and leadership to do what desperately needs to be done.
If you are tired of high speed motor vehicle traffic in your city or neighborhood, let your state and local elected officials know it. Talk to your mayor, your city council members, and your state senators and representatives. Demand funding for safe streets for all, no matter their age, ability or means of travel. Insist on robust enforcement of Georgia's three feet safe passing law, and make it known that, as a voter and taxpayer, you support the prioritization of people walking and bicycling.
Keep up the great local advocacy efforts, and stay safe out there.
- Brent Buice, Executive Director
June 4-11, our Executive Director will be participating in the 37th annual Bicycle Ride Across Georgia (BRAG). During the ride, which starts in Atlanta and ends in Savannah, he will document and discuss opportunities and challenges for improved bicycle tourism in the state. If you won't be on BRAG yourself, you can follow along via Twitter.
Seeing Georgia from a bike saddle is the kind of memorable, truly unique experience that we should work together to improve. We have mountains, rolling hills, gorgeous rivers and barrier islands, a major metropolis with plenty to see and do, charming small towns, and energetic mid-size cities. Georgia offers a calender-busting assortment of bike festivals, century rides, parades, and everyday tourism opportunities on paved trails. Georgia ought to be the leading bicycle tourism destination in the south
States that actively encourage bicycle tourism, including Colorado, Louisiana, and Oregon, see tremendous economic benefits. Bicycle tourists are low impact, prefer local businesses, and spend more, on average, than tourists who arrive by motor vehicle. A Montana study found that touring bicyclists spend $75-103 per day, and Maine’s Department of Transportation discovered that bicycle tourism brings in $36 million per year.
Given our varied and attractive geography, great food and southern hospitality, Georgia should be reaping these economic benefits as well.
There are some significant barriers to bike tourism in Georgia, however, including dangerous roads and a lack of statewide branding and promotion of bicycle tourism (see the linked states above for examples of state-led bike tourism efforts).
The 2016 BRAG route will visit Atlanta, Social Circle, Milledgeville, Dublin, Swainsboro and Statesboro. While our Director is participating in this year's ride, he'll be documenting the good, the bad, and the occassionally ugly issues we need to fix in order to position our state as a leader in safe, family-friendly bicycle tourism. Watch our Twitter feed for live commentary, and stay tuned for a post-BRAG report here on the blog!
Please note that the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia is not affiliated with Georgia Bikes. BRAG is an independent not-for-profit dedicated to providing affordable, quality bicycle tours in and across the state of Georgia. BRAG is the second oldest across-state bicycle tour in the world and attracts riders from across the United States. See www.brag.org for more information.
Attention Advocates in Sandy Springs/North Fulton County!