Zero Dollars for Biking in Atlanta?

Ah, crap, I’m a little last-minute on this, but this one’s it’s worth ten minutes of your time!  As reported earlier, the transportation legislation this year has divided the state up into 12 regions, and each region will vote (yea or nay) on a list of transportation projects and their accompanying 1% sales tax. TODAY is the last day to submit your comments to the Atlanta Regional Commission, who has developed the first bit of the first bit of this list. See details here, and the criteria for the list here (PDF).

My concern, which is cited more eloquently and with more detail at the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition here and here, is that they’ve set aside a whopping 0-5% to use on non-motorized projects.

Record numbers of Atlantans are hopping on bikes.  25% of our trips are made within a mile of the home and 40% are made within two miles – these are distances that, barring extreme temperatures, we should almost always bike. Or at least they are distances for which we should have the option to safely and comfortably bike.  Each of the 25 or so bicycles locked up outside my office represents one less car, less wear and tear on the roads, less pollution, more vibrant communities, healthier citizens, and less sprawl. I cannot imagine not encouraging this sort of transportation.

The culture is changing, and we need our infrastructure to keep up! All this to say that a 0-5% allocation for bike and ped programs is not acceptable for the Atlanta region to do so. Other cities (with which we are competing for jobs and investment) are adding bike lanes, installing bike racks, and encouraging alternative means of getting to work, and I worry that Georgia is stuck in a paradigm of an unsustainable, auto-focused transportation network. I ask you to check out the criteria the ARC has posted, and consider sending off a quick email to let them know how you feel about the future of transportation in Atlanta.

(I recognize that this may be as simple as “Don’t tax us anymore!”, which is another correct opinion. Make your voice heard!)

6 Comments so far

  1. Marc R (unregistered) on September 2nd, 2010 @ 5:07 pm

    Dear Abby and other Authors
    My name is Marc, and I am a member of the new Hyper Local Web Content Team at WXIA/11AliveNews. Our mission is to operate a number of neighborhood-specific Web sites that will “hyperlocalize” news and events happening in the area. From breaking national and/or regional news that affects the community to local events and city council meetings; my team wants to report on everything that is happening “Where U Live.”
    But we need YOUR help!
    We are asking all neighborhood associations, city officials, community bloggers, and community activists to provide me with press releases, breaking news stories, story leads, and even personal input on current issues. We’re hopeful that these neighborhood sites to be filled with local content that is both informative and inspirational. And there is no one better at reporting neighborhood news than the people who live there. This platform will provide citizens with the opportunity to have the 11Alive News motto “How Can We Help You” behind them as they submit helpful content.
    Please start by adding me on all of your media lists and list serves; and, please, take a look at the site. I need your content to truly make this a neighborhood web site. By helping me, you will be playing a vital role for thousands of viewers.
    I look forward to partnering with you and thank you for your community commitment. Our community sites will provide credit for any stories we post, give you links back to your blogs and ultimately provide you with more visitors.
    Please let me know if you can be part of our Team!
    “The Hyper Local Team”

  2. Cynthia (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2010 @ 11:02 am

    It worries me that transit capital is anywhere between 10%-40%. Which will it be? 10% or 40%. That is a HUGE difference.

  3. abby on September 7th, 2010 @ 10:11 am

    Cynthia, you’re right. I’m interested to see what the actual projects they propose will be and where in these huge ranges the percentages will end up falling.

    Marc, we don’t have press releases or listserves here at metblogs… it’s pretty much “what you see is what you get.” You are welcome to pick up our rss feed or check the site to find our biased and opinionated coverage of local issues, as well as the opinions of our insightful commenters, both of which we usually have in abundance. When we’re not too busy, anyway.

  4. Marc R (unregistered) on September 7th, 2010 @ 11:01 am

    Abby, thanks for getting back to me. So instead of adding us to a listserv or something like that, would you and your blog staff be interested in a role as Community Content Provider (CCP)? We would set you up with a Login and Password so that you can post your stories/information directly. It is a very easy process and as simple as cutting and pasting the stories you have already written into our CMS. Of course they would credit you and can link back to your main blog. Please let me know if you want to take advantage of this opportunity.

    Now if all that seems like extra time that you dont have, then maybe you can give permission for us to upload stories from your blog to our site that are relevant to our particular communities.

  5. Buck (unregistered) on September 12th, 2010 @ 9:05 am

    What is Atlanta Bicycle Campaign, er, Coalition, or whatever its calling itself now, doing about this exactly? 

    ABC hires a new executive director in 2007 who’s purported to have direct ties and influence with the very federal, state, and city bureaucracies that dole out these annual transportation dollars. 

    So now THIS? Budget table scraps? A paltry percentage of a five percent? If that?

    Wha what?

    So far as I can tell, Atlanta in the last several years has LOST, not added, traditional bicycle lanes throughout the city’s core intermodal network (I say “so far” because I ride throughout the city regularly and have witnessed the recession first-hand; in Buckhead especially). 

    And NO: the Beltline project doesn’t count because ABC played little more than a “uh-huh, shucks, looks good to me” role in that on-going project’s implementation. Same goes for PATH.

    This city needs YESTERDAY a cycling czar that’s both connected and aggressive. 

    Not just one or the other. 

    Atlanta needs someone who can navigate with equal aplomb the sectors of private business and government bureaucracy. 

    Not just one or the other.

    Atlanta needs someone actively SELLING cycling lifestyle and access and funding it with “sponsorships” in the same manner Georgia State Parks is offering private and corporate “naming” rights at facilities throughout its network (OH – there’s an idea!)

    I can see freshly painted corporate logos positioned inside the white stripes of those sponsored bike lanes along the blacktop now. 

    Certainly what Atlanta does NOT need is someone or a group of someones coasting their meek and mousy carcasses into already-planned outdoor events and festivals throughout the city – like THEY plannned it – to hand out bumper stickers while flapping their gums with chips of unchewed carrot cake flavor Clif bar stuck between their front teeth.  

  6. abby on September 13th, 2010 @ 8:57 am

    Buck, thanks for your rant-comment. :) For what it’s worth, I got all the information for this post from the ABC (thus the links), who was calling for action over the 0-5% issue. I don’t know that one person can influence major changes in transportation policy like this over the span of a couple years — I think it’s a matter of growing the cycling community’s size, which leads to influence. If there’s no one to appreciate bike lanes except you and me and the ABC executive director, the state’s not going to approve projects. But if you have 5,000 concerned members of your group, 2/3 of whom will write letters to their representatives and submit input on issues like this, that’s when change starts happening. (For the record, ABC has nothing even remotely near that – I believe membership is currently in the hundreds).

    Plus, I signed up to become a member of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition at one of those already-planned outdoor events. Even bought a tshirt! So a presence and membership booth worked on me, at least. Speaking of, another Atlanta Streets Alive is coming up – October 17th.

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