Becky Katz really wants to make Atlanta more bicycle-friendly. She’s set for a constant climb.
On the grey fall morning, Katz starts to pedal north toward downtown. Atlanta looks far not the same as behind some handlebars than from behind a controls. For just one factor, it’s much more harmful: A person is encased inside a ton or more of steel Katz remains safe and secure by only a Giro helmet. Eventually last Feb, a person traveling 35 miles per hour rear-ended Katz near Castleberry Hill, totaling her bike and delivering her to Grady Memorial Hospital for any damaged shoulder socket and wrist. Danger may also originate from below. Along the way to operate, Katz swerves around a grate on the street whose bars run parallel towards the curb-not verticle with respect, because they should. If her tire got stuck between your bars, she’d likely go flying within the front of her bike.Becky Katz’s 2.6-mile commute from her house in Adair Park to her office in City Hall takes about twenty minutes. Her mode of transit-a $1,000 Kona Honky Tonk bicycle-is decided, generally, by her occupation. As Atlanta’s first-ever “chief bicycle officer,” her job is a mixture of pr (distributing the gospel of cycling inside a town of agnostics), politics (cutting through bureaucracy to improve ridership), and planning (expanding its anemic network of motorcycle lanes).
Katz is among 4,064 metro Atlantans who, based on census data, identify as daily bicycle commuters-this inside a region with 2.six million total commuters. Unsurprisingly, Atlanta lags behind metropolitan areas like Portland, that has 10 occasions Atlanta’s number of bicycle commuters, or New You are able to, the place to find Citi Bike, a bicycle share program with 6,000 cycles that intends to double in dimensions.
For many years Atlanta contacted bicycles exactly as other sprawling metropolitan areas did-with nothing more than lip service. Rebecca Serna, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s executive director, recalls 1995’s Atlanta Commuter On-Street Bike Plan, which known as for any 354-mile network of motorcycle lanes to become built over fifteen years. Because it happened, the town installed just 22 miles of motorcycle lanes between 1995 and 2008. And a few of this work, Serna states, amounted to nothing more than “half-mile bike lanes that brought nowhere.”
But occasions are altering. Bicyclists, by necessity, aren’t shrinking violets. (Ever accidentally cut one-time and seen their reaction?) And, just like they’re saying their space around the roads, they’ve been demanding more attention from policymakers.
In 2008 city officials approved Connect Atlanta, an agenda that requires the creation, by 2030, of the 200-mile grid of motorcycle lanes that extends in the city center to many of their borders. This could have the ability to pedal from Phipps Plaza to Greenbriar Mall on only dedicated bike lanes. On condition roads passing with the city, additional projects have materialized: A once-risky corridor of Ponce de Leon Avenue is safer with bike lanes placed on the shoulder from Ponce City Sell to Juniper Street. And, obviously, in addition, there’s the Atlanta BeltLine, greater than three miles being complete. By December, the town presently has 84 miles of motorcycle infrastructure (bike lanes, trails, etc.). In comparison, you will find 1,584 miles of paved roads inside the city.
Katz’s position owes its creation partly towards the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, which this year located a trip from Nicole Freedman, Boston’s “bike czar” at that time. John Bare, v . p . from the Blank Foundation, states Freedman’s speech sparked a wider discussion between local nonprofit executives and cycling advocates on how to turn Atlanta right into a place where everybody could connect to the city on two wheels. One apparent step? Creating Atlanta’s own bike czar. As Serna states, “The insufficient a passionate bike planner would be a huge barrier.”
Just ask Brent Maker, a West Finish resident who last winter became a member of his neighbors in requesting protected bike lanes on Lee Street from East Indicate downtown Atlanta. He was relayed through city officials the work wouldn’t be incorporated in Atlanta’s $250 million bond package-a once-in-a-generation pot of funding for, amongst other things, road and bridge projects. But don’t fear, city officials told him: Rather, they’d collaborate using the Georgia Dot, which in fact had planned to repave and mill the street anyway, making the work happen partly around the state’s cent. However, when GDOT got around towards the work last summer time, contractors repaved the street, without the bike lanes. A chief bike officer, Maker states, “would make sure something this big wouldn’t get overlooked.”
Enter Katz, a Bronx native who gone to live in Atlanta this year when she was 25. She learned the town on two wheels. Volunteer shifts with Park Pride brought to some full-time job like a project manager, where she labored with communities trying to enhance their parks.
Katz’s $70,000 wages are funded with a five-year, $250,000 grant-based on the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation, among the Blank Foundation’s nonprofits-and also the Town of Atlanta. Mayor Kasim Reed, who greenlighted the gig in the goal to double the amount number of bike commuters in 2016, made Katz his point part of turning Atlanta into among the top ten cycling metropolitan areas in the united states. Her boss, planning and community development commissioner Tim Keane, views Atlanta to become entering an important moment where residents are finally prepared to think hard concerning the “presumption that 100 % of journeys is going to be by vehicle.”
The Reed administration wants Atlanta to generate the League of yankee Bicyclists’ top designation like a “Bicycle Friendly Community,” which is dependant on the caliber of a city’s enforcement of laws and regulations, advocacy efforts, and bike infrastructure. To do this, Katz will solicit public input to have an update towards the Connect Atlanta plan. She’ll also make sure that projects which have already guaranteed funding-such as the intend to remove DeKalb Avenue’s “suicide lane” and install one for bikes-don’t take a backseat. Then there’s the anticipated launch this season of Atlanta Bike Share, a subscription-based program which will provide 500 rentable bikes at greater than 50 stations in neighborhoods like Buckhead, Midtown, and West Finish.
Just north of City Hall, Katz rides past Georgia Condition College toward Peachtree Center Avenue’s new two-way cycle track-one of the numerous roads where individuals will quickly have the ability to ride rentable bikes. However a FedEx truck has double-parked in her own path, forcing us to veer into oncoming traffic. Katz is nonplussed. “Change on the roads is really a challenge,” she states. “A large amount of individuals have driven it a 1000 occasions every single day within the last 3 decades. There is a learning period.”
If motorists could be reasoned with rather of reviled, she states, they could be more prepared to see bike lanes like a plus-and not simply something which slows lower their travels. She suggests Ponce for example: After planners reduced the eastside avenue from six vehicle lanes to four in December 2013, installing a passionate turn lane in the centre and striped bike lanes around the shoulders, the amount of vehicles traveling the street every day really rose by 4,000. The street grew to become safer: Crashes came by 25 % the following year. Duplicating that success is going to be simpler stated than can be done. An identical proposal for any 1.4-mile stretch of Peachtree Road was scrapped after greater than 1,400 Buckhead residents and business leaders objected towards the plan.
So there is a lengthy approach to take. “Right now our connector roads-Metropolitan, Lee, Memorial, DeKalb, Boulevard, Peachtree Street-aren’t functioning for everyone,” Katz states. “They’re unsafe. We have to create roads which are safe for those modes of transportation, whatever type you select.Inches
Average miles of motorcycle lanes installed each year in Atlanta between 1995 and 2008
Miles of motorcycle lanes planned to stay in place by 2030
Percent stop by vehicle crashes in 2014 on stretch of Ponce de Leon after bike lanes were installed
This short article initially made an appearance within our Feb 2016 issue underneath the headline “The Bike Czar.”