Posts tagged with bicycle
Season’s Greetings! Georgia employers and commuters stand at the threshold of a new year. But before we pass through, it’s worth reflecting on 2012, and what a remarkable year it has been for transportation and air quality issues in Georgia. Merging Lanes breaks down a handful of the events that shaped a year of big decisions in the metro Atlanta region and around the state.
EPA Introduces Tighter Air Quality Standards
The US Environmental Protection Agency finalized in the spring a standard for ground-level ozone (originally discussed in 2008) and issued designations to illustrate which areas comply with the standard and which do not. In all, 15 counties in metro Atlanta do not meet this new standard, which represents an improvement over the 20+ counties that were previously found not to meet the prior standard. Air quality is improving in Georgia. But the balance between long-term population growth and increased demand for energy and transportation is a fragile one, in terms of environmental impact.
Lane ends 2,000 feet.
Atlanta Takes a Detour from Transportation Penny Sales Tax
The nation was watching when metro Atlanta voters voiced their opposition to a penny sales tax to fund a list of 157 transportation projects in the region over the course of a decade. With no windfall options for funding large-scale expansion to the region’s existing transportation network, the conversation turned to developing a “Plan B” alternative. According to a recent poll conducted for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 76% of Atlantans feel traffic is a major problem. But not everyone agrees on how improving transportation should be paid for. While 10% suggested increasing the motor fuel tax we all pay for gasoline, 39% suggested carving out transportation funds by adding more tax to alcohol and tobacco purchases. Another 16% indicated they would favor a special sales tax to pay for transportation. One thing is for certain: if the region can again harness even a fraction of the interest in this issue demonstrated by the business community in the future, anything is possible to beat back traffic.
Lane ends 1,000 feet.
Third-Annual Georgia Telework Piques Conversations on Scalability
Underscoring the increasing adoption of telework as a business strategy to improve operations, more than 100 Georgia employers in the public and private sectors showed their support for Georgia Telework Week. This commute option has continued to grow as an integral part of the way business is done in the Atlanta region, where each week more than 336,000 commuters are teleworking. The week also drew more attention to the nearly-quarter-million commuters who believe their jobs are conducive to telework but have not yet received approval from management to do it. In terms of raw potential, the impact of putting this group to work at their home computer instead of their office computer could erase the equivalent of the total daily traffic volume on the top end of I-285.
Lane ends 500 feet.
Inaugural Bike to Work Challenge Celebrates Pedal Power
Each week in the Atlanta region, more than 20,000 commute trips are made by bicycle. With new findings from the medical community that warn about the risks of sedentary living – including the time we log behind the wheel in traffic – plus an energetic community of bicycling enthusiasts, The Clean Air Campaign, Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and regional partners hosted the first-ever Bike to Work Challenge. This month-long event held in October featured a points-based competition for individuals and teams of all skill levels, inviting rookie bike commuters to learn the ropes from grizzled cycling veterans. The response was off the charts: over 17,000 bicycle commute trips were logged, resulting in 130,000 miles of vehicle travel eliminated from Georgia roads.
In this year of big decisions, hats off to the more than 1,000 bicycle commuters who decided to drive their bikes to work as part of this event. Here’s to more commuters making more of these kinds of decisions in 2013.
Brian Carr is Director of Communications at The Clean Air Campaign, one of several organizations in the Atlanta region that deliver Georgia Commute Options programs and services in partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation. A daily MARTA rail rider, Brian uses his morning commute time on the Blue Line to read about current events and play "Words With Friends."
When my wife and I moved to Atlanta from Portland, Oregon just over four years ago, we simply took it for granted that we’d be able to continue the lifestyle we’d been leading. In Portland, we shared a single car that was used mostly for weekend getaways, while daily errands like grocery shopping, visits to friends, trips to restaurants, and my wife’s work and school commutes were accomplished by foot or on our bicycles, with the occasional light rail or bus trip thrown in as well. The car could sometime sit for weeks without being used.
We made the cross country trip to Atlanta in 2008 so that I could pursue a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the excellent program offered by Georgia Tech and Emory. Up to that point, I’d been making a living as a professional road cyclist, traveling across the US and around the world to compete. That experience gave me the chance to see some great bicycle infrastructure such as parallel bike roads in central Beijing and protected lanes with dedicated signals across Europe. But I also got to see just how far behind most American cities, including Atlanta, were in providing safe and convenient road space for cyclists.
So it shouldn't have been surprising to learn that our nearly car-free lifestyle would be more challenging here. But we were determined. And, frankly, buying a second car wasn't financially feasible anyway. We found a house in Cabbagetown, where we fell in love with the old homes on narrow streets, along with the easy access to MARTA. My wife found a bus route that was a short bike ride away and took her straight to her new job as a teacher in Dekalb County. I set about trying to find the best possible bike route to Georgia Tech, with MARTA as a backup when thunderstorms threatened. It took some effort, but in time, the car started to see less and less use.
But what’s been most encouraging over the last four years is how many people have been joining us. There’s been a noticeable increase in the number of fellow bicycle commuters that I see on the roads daily, with events like the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s Streets Alive and the inaugural Bike to Work Challenge showing even more people how easy it can be to ride a bike in Atlanta. And it seems like city officials are also starting to get the message. A new signal and green bike lane appeared in early October to help connect two previously discontinuous bike lanes where 5th street crosses West Peachtree at Tech Square. Mayor Reed just announced plans for some additional and much needed new bike infrastructure in Midtown. And despite only being open for a week, the Beltline is already overflowing with commuters in the morning and evening.
However, this city still has work to do. The Beltline ends suddenly at Monroe without connections to any existing bike lanes, and there are too many areas where cyclists have no choice but to mix with sometimes unfriendly motor vehicle traffic. But the best way to demonstrate the need for more bike infrastructure is to get out there and use what we have. With a little bit of planning, a person can get just about anywhere in Atlanta by bike, and do so safely. Resources such as the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s bike suitability maps and the bike option in Google Maps are great ways to plan routes. Learning to live without complete reliance on a car is extremely liberating. It’s exciting to watch more people in this city free themselves from that dependency. See you on our current and future bike routes.
Doug is a PhD candidate at the Georgia Institute of Technology and is a former professional road cyclist.
I hate to drive. It all started three years ago when living in the Middle East where the roads are lawless. Motorcycles, pick-up trucks from the 80’s, Asten Martens all going wildly different speeds with no reverence for double yellow lines, red lights, or traffic laws. Just being a passenger was terrifying.
Thus when moving to Atlanta, I was nervous. Culling the Atlanta subreddit and local newspapers, rumor had it Atlantans loved their cars as much as their sweet tea. The idea of driving, even with traffic enforcement, stressed me out.
After careful planning, I moved to a neighborhood where I could take MARTA to work. I walked 15 minutes to MARTA station and rode 20-30 minutes depending on train times. It worked, it was time consuming, but it worked.
When I heard about The Clean Air Campaign’s Bike to Work Challenge, I thought it would be good to try. So I signed up thinking that it wouldn't be easier or faster than the MARTA, but it would be a change of pace.
Early morning on October 1st, I headed out on my Georgia Tech Starter Bike (total value of $35) on the route I carefully chosen to avoid hills and major streets. I left extra early to account for any wrong turns and my slow speed. I ended up being too early for work. It took me only 20 minutes on bike rather than the 45 minute MARTA commute.
Now with three weeks of biking under my belt, my speed hasn't increased, but my huffing and puffing has decreased. On the bike, I save time and get exercise. Biking has transformed my commute to work.
Becky Katz works for Park Pride, a non-profit organization that works with communities all over Atlanta to improve their parks.
With the cooler weather approaching, I decided it was time to dust off my bike from junior high school and commit to riding again. Yes, that’s right: I wrote “junior high school." The last time I rode a bike was for approximately 7 minutes a year ago in beautiful, flat Florida. I rode my mother-in-law’s bike for about five minutes until I realized she had two flat tires. I tried to ride for 2 more minutes until I decided maybe I should get off the bike. Needless to say, I’m not a huge cyclist, which makes the notion of dusting off an old bike to ride sound even more arduous.
The Bike To Work Challenge gave me the perfect opportunity to test out getting back in the saddle. It would be just like when I was 12 years old! I could hop on my old-school, vintage Murray road bike and feel the wind in my hair as I cruise down the street feeling a sense of independence.
After confirming with my father that my bike was, in fact, twenty years old, I decided it might make sense to have it checked out. I have a DIY nature, so I took my bike to the nice folks at SOPO bicycle cooperative in Grant Park. I like SOPO because they don’t just fix your bike for you. Instead, they actually assist and guide you as you fix your bike yourself. SOPO’s “employees” are volunteers and they take donations in exchange for their expertise. The gentleman who helped me was extremely knowledgeable and checked my brakes, tires and gears. He also explained that bike companies discontinued making the types of pedals on my bike because they snap off… Enter paranoia, stage left!
At this point, I decided that I needed to become more knowledgeable about bike maintenance and safety to fight off my inner bike wuss. Working at The Clean Air Campaign, I knew that the Bike To Work Challenge website had multiple resources for cyclists, including classes. After reviewing tips on commuting, planning your trip to work and even watching a video of zombies teaching me how to put a bike on a bus I found a free class called “Confident City Cycling” and immediately registered.
Mike Laurie and Shawn Deangelo, from the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, led the five hour “confidence” class that included classroom training and participating in bike handling drills. This class was FUNtastic! The instructors were not only knowledgeable, but they were also enthusiastic and very sensitive to all levels of riders. A light, delicious breakfast of bagels, fruit and coffee was served to the 10 people who attended the class. The instructors covered topics such as selecting a bike, correct clothing to wear, gearing and shifting, Georgia traffic laws and more. It was very helpful! For example, I learned it’s illegal in Georgia to not have lights on your bike at night when you are riding. I also learned that it’s illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk and that you can actually get traffic tickets when you break traffic laws while riding a bike. All in all, I left the class feeling more empowered and definitely more confident.
Last Monday was the first day I rode my bike to work. Technically, I rode my bike to MARTA, but either way I did not drive my car, which is better for the environment, my wallet and my inner child. I’ve decided to name my bike “McMurray”. He seems Irish to me. Old McMurray did well that morning and I felt strong and confident because I knew, unlike last year on my mother-in-law’s bike, that I was not riding on two flat tires. I also knew that if I did get a flat, I could take the tire off, locate the cause of the flat, repair or replace the tube as needed and be on my way. That knowledge and confidence allows me to ride a 20 year old bike named McMurray, as the wind blows over my helmet, while I rediscover my appreciation for cycling that I had when I was twelve.
Beth Ament is an Employer Program Manager and Team Leader at The Clean Air Campaign.
Happy National Transportation Week! According to US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, 2012 marks the golden anniversary of an event that is rooted in education about the importance of our national transportation network. And on a local level, the signs of new thinking on transportation are everywhere. This week brought the launch of the “flex-lane” driving experience on the shoulder of Georgia 400. A new airport terminal opened its doors to the world. And The Clean Air Campaign typed up this blog entry for your enlightenment. Some might call this an epic week.
Wireside Chats: Dial In for Details on Transportation Referendum Projects
Media attention continues to build in anticipation of the July 31 regional transportation referendum that will allow voters to choose whether to use a penny sales tax collected over ten years to fund $8.5 billion in transportation improvements across the 10-county metro Atlanta region and parallel improvement projects at differing levels of investment drawn up in 11 other regions of the state. In a recent conversation with officials representing the Transform Metro Atlanta campaign, their hope is that news outlets and citizens will begin to dive deeper into the specific projects that the referendum would fund. During six evenings in June, the Atlanta Regional Commission will host a series of 12 Wireside Chat events, which are hour-long interactive phone conversations centered around a detailed map of proposed projects. Local officials will provide a brief overview of the July 31 referendum and answer questions about the project list that goes with the referendum. Worth a few minutes to be part of this conversation to see what might get built near your home or workplace. Register at www.wiresidechats.com.
Lane ends 2,000 feet.
Halfway There: The Potential of “Park to Pedal”
May is National Bike Month. In its role as an invitation to drivers to try bicycle commuting, the message is well-received by a growing number of people in the metro Atlanta region. But the barrier for most remains high, given that the average metro Atlanta commute is 17.5 miles each way. Still, this recent article in the Huffington Post outlines an idea that might work for more of us. What if we drove partway to our work destination, parked the car, pulled the bike out of the trunk and then pedaled the rest of the way in? In a climate of crazy gas prices and less free time to work out, this might become a worthwhile strategy to test out. Could you do it?
Lane ends 1,000 feet.
Costly Commuting: Driving Costs Per Mile Edge Upward
The American Automobile Association recently released its annual “Your Driving Costs” study, which examines the cost per mile to own, operate and maintain a vehicle. According to AAA, this study has been performed annually since 1950, when the cost per mile was a whopping nine cents. Fast forward 62 years and the cost per mile has risen to 59.6 cents per mile. That’s up about three cents from a year ago due to higher costs for resources like gasoline and rubber to make tires, as well as higher insurance premiums and taxes. The Clean Air Campaign uses a lower number that excludes ownership costs to illustrate the savings commuters can realize when they drive less. Take our updated commute calculator for a spin and see what you could put back into your piggy bank.
Lane ends 500 feet.
Air Aware: 15 Metro Atlanta Counties Not Meeting Latest Ground-Level Ozone Standard
The US Environmental Protection Agency recently issued final designations for areas that have been found to be out of compliance with standards for ground-level ozone. When the 2008 standard was implemented, the measuring stick got shorter. So, too, did the list of counties not meeting the standard. That’s an encouraging sign of progress, as regulatory and voluntary actions in Georgia continue to work harmoniously to improve air quality. But with long-term growth projections and increasing energy demands, there is more work to be done.
Cousins Properties is pleased to have been named a Platinum Partner. To be one of only 130 metro Atlanta employers and property managers recognized for results achieved through its sustainable commute program is quite an honor. There are a few people that helped us achieve this accomplishment.
Downtown TMA has been an instrumental partner in helping Cousins educate its customers on the alternative commuting options available downtown. Joint program initiatives have included quarterly transportation fairs; Commuter Rewards programs, and also a spot on the Downtown TMA information kiosk rotation.
In addition, in 2009, Cousins introduced a Bike Share Program at its downtown properties - American Cancer Society Center and One Ninety One Peachtree Tower. The Downtown TMA was integral in assisting with the rollout and communicating the value proposition to our customers. Cousins Properties remains committed and focused on its partnership with the Downtown TMA and is appreciative of the value that they bring to all downtown constituencies. We look forward to collaboratively sharing new and innovative programs in the future.
Jessica McNamara is an administrative manager at Cousins Properties Incorporated
What do you get when you cross a bicycle and a record player? Check out the answer here.
For the record, clean commuting ROCKS! And whether it's by bicycle, carpool, vanpool, bus, train or any other commute alternative, your commitment to helping the environment is music to our ears ;)
From the time I turned 10 years old, I have been in love with riding my bicycle. I've ridden, raced, trained and commuted on a bicycle. I've worked in bike shops, run teams, coached cyclists... I just love the sport of cycling. The thing is, the bicycle wasn't really invented to be a sport. It was invented to be a mode of transportation. A way to get around that was more efficient than walking along whistling Dixie.
Unfortunately, many people have forgotten that and opt to drive in a car wherever they go. They think of cycling as something they can do on a nice day for a couple hours of exercise. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with recreational riding, but why not be able to get someplace on your bike?
As much as I love cycling, there is something extra special about riding my bike to work. I enjoy leaving my car at home, getting out there, saving gas and burning calories. It's just awesome. My commute is no "joy ride" though. On a good day, it takes me about an hour each way on some not so friendly roads.
In my 30 plus years of cycling, I've learned a lot of things to help me share the road. As I use these skills, I am able to save over a gallon of gas every time I ride (that's a $4 pay raise!) not to mention the wear and tear on my car. I arrive at work with a fresh attitude and a better outlook on life. The only thing that makes me sad while I am out on the road, is that I almost NEVER see another person commuting on a bike. Think about this for just a minute. if everybody just committed themselves to using a commute alternative just ONE day a week, you would see:
- 20% less traffic
- 20% less air pollution
- 20% less wear and tear on your car
- A healthier community
- A greater appreciation for cyclist and pedestrians as you would know they are helping!
Think about it! I highly recommend you put some TRANS back in your sportation! If that doesn't work for you - hike, carpool or work from home! Be creative. Help me change the world, one commute at a time!
Scott Patton lives in Marietta. Bike to Work Week in Atlanta is May 16-20, 2011
As an avid cyclist, I've done a lot of cycling - but not in the city. My wife and I would drive out to the Silver Comet Trail or drive 45 minutes to an hour away from Atlanta in order to find roads with less traffic where we would ride our bicycles. We usually ride fairly long distances, 30 to 50 miles, sometimes longer.
So when I went to work for the Clean Air Campaign, which is only 12.5 miles from my home, the distance wasn't an issue - but I was definitely worried about the traffic.
I talked to every Atlanta bicycle commuter I could find, and got a lot of advice, and then went for it. I scouted out routes, trying to stay away from main thoroughfares with heavy traffic. I was able to find neighborhood roads for about 7.5 of those 12.5 miles, but there was no way around it - I was going to have about 5 miles on Peachtree Road and Peachtree Street.
One of the pieces of advice I heard was to "take the lane". This means rather than staying as far to the right as possible, if the lane is too narrow for a car to safely pass you (safely means at least 3 feet between you and the car) you should ride in the center of the lane.
It might sound counterintuitive, but even the "Georgia Bike Sense" guide says to move to the left or take the center of the lane in the following situations:
- Left turns
- Avoiding hazards or debris
- The lane is too narrow to share safely with other vehicles
- Passing standing vehicles
- Moving to the left in these circumstances is legal, so keep in mind that staying to the right is not always required and not always the safest place to be."
I ride Peachtree Road/Street from Peachtree Battle to Woodruff Park. In that stretch there are always 2 or 3 lanes. So when I turn on to Peachtree Road, I get in the center of the right lane. In most cases, cars and trucks have plenty of room to move over. Sometimes they get stuck behind me, but I have never had an unpleasant encounter because of that. In fact the only close encounter I've had at all was when I was lax about staying in the center of the lane, and someone thought they could squeeze by me; they went by with a one foot clearance, and that was too close for comfort.
The other important piece of advice I have for bike commuting is to get a rear view mirror. There are several different types; some mount on the handlebar, some mount on your helmet, some even mount on your glasses. I always ride with eye protection, so I went for the mirror on the glasses type. Being aware of traffic to the rear has made the biggest difference for me in terms of safety and peace of mind.
And on the days when I just don't feel like riding that 5 miles on Peachtree, there's always MARTA. The station is only 3 miles from my home, which takes me about 15 minutes on the bike.
Still not sure? Take the "Confident City Cycling" course offered by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.
If you've been thinking about bike commuting, Bike To Work Week is the perfect time to just do it. Once I tried it, I found it's a lot easier than I thought it would be.
See you on the road!
The first time I rode my bike to work, I was terrified. Traffic was fast and frequent on Cascade Road and I hugged the curb as if my life depended on it, which I thought at the time it did. That was after a few weeks of biking to the MARTA station on the sidewalk, and being amazed at how slowly I had to travel. Switching to the street made my commute that much faster, and as I later learned, that much safer.
After 3 weeks (or 21 days, the length of time experts recommend to really latch on to a new habit), I took a deep breath, relaxed, and started the long journey towards truly enjoying my commute.
I discovered I felt more confident, less out of breath, and more like a biker. A biker! Out of shape, non gym-member me! It was a great feeling. I felt empowered by having arrived at my destination powered by nothing more than my own legs, which were growing stronger by the day. Thus I embarked on my low-car diet. In a fortunate coincidence, I was able to lose 15 pounds before my wedding.
I started biking to work four years ago when I was working for a foundation in southwest Atlanta. I rode 2.5 miles one way to the office, arriving sweaty, breathless, and at peace. My coworkers marveled at my dedication, but for me, it just made sense. Those 2.5 miles would have taken me 50 minutes to traverse by bus and train and bus again, and we were a one-car couple, so I didn’t think it fair to drive the car myself every day when my fiance might have needed it.
Eventually, once my now-husband and I both started biking to work, we wised up and took a class with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. A few short months later, I took over as the new executive director and had the privilege of sharing what I had learned with others.
Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 21. While thousands of Atlantans bike to work everyday, including the staff here at the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, Friday is a great opportunity for people who usually get to work by some other method to dust off their bike and give it a go!
ABC and our partners are providing Energizer Stations around town where bike users can fuel up for free with refreshments and giveaways. Experienced cyclists will lead Bike Trains that anyone can hop on in order to ride with others and make their commute safer and more social. And everyone who registers for Bike to Work Day (or to ride other days during that week) will be entered to win prizes including $20 gift cards from Sidebar and a surprise item from REI.
Then there’s the thrill of arriving at work, energized and engaged, ready to start the day knowing you took a step to make the air we breathe a little cleaner.
Rebecca Serna is the Executive Director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, metro Atlanta’s voice for better biking. ABC’s mission is to make it safer and easier for people to ride bicycles to create a healthier, more sustainable region. ABC promotes bicycling to improve public health, clean the air, reduce congestion, and build community. Rebecca is a daily bike commuter – she and her husband blog about going car-free at carfreeatlantafamily.wordpress.com.