Hotlanta: Atlanta Gets the Cycling Message


Atlanta, Georgia, is not one of the first places that springs to mind when you are trying to list some of the top “cycling cities” around the world, but the Atlanta Regional Commission has voted to allocate the enormous sum of $1 billion to make the huge city safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

One more major city has got the message!

If you have ever flown with Delta Airlines to the USA the chances are that you have been in to Atlanta airport. (As an aside, their cabin crew are fantastic: they fought an anti-agism battle years ago, and the experienced staff are doing the job because they want to, and are friendly and charming.) If you drove into or through the city, you would have gone pretty much through the city on a multi lane highway – not the first impression of a cycling city!

Walk. Bike. Thrive!

Their plan is called “Walk. Bike. Thrive!”, which pretty much sums up just what walking and biking can do for you and for a city that adopts this century’s key message. This $1 billion project is a 25 year programme. The sum is impressive, although less so when you put it in to the context of the total transportation budget for the Atlanta area of $85 billion over that period. Nevertheless, it is a huge increase on what has been spent in the past.

The intention is to link some of the various communities with the centre of the city, as well as create links to bike routes such as the Silver Comet trail to Alabama. Like Munich, which has implemented their “Radlring” around the city, Atlanta wants to have a 22 mile beltline around the city’s core.

Byron Rushing, the planner responsible for the project, doesn’t expect a car-oriented city to change overnight, but is realistic enough to realise that if children can start cycling or walking to school, then change will gradually follow.

The whole board of Atlanta voted unanimously for the plan, having seen what programs of this sort have done for other cities and believe that it will address some of Atlanta’s key problems like congestion, poor air quality and declining health.

The Atlanta plan has 6 key components.

1)  Make targeted investments to make it easier for people to get more places without driving: popular destinations such as schools, parks, transit hubs, retail streets and malls, offices, etc.

2)  Increase bicycle ridership by making cycling safer. Just 5% of trips are currently by bike or on foot.

3)  Connect existing trails (bike routes) to create a regional network.

4)  Encourage more designated “bike-friendly” and “walk-friendly” communities – Georgia Tech is already a “bike friendly university”.

5)  Emphasize the economic value of quality bike & pedestrian networks

6)  Allocate $1 billion in a long-range plan for bike and pedestrian infrastructure.


Bike & Cycling News – SpyCycle

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