The week of April 26 was a big one for bicycling in Atlanta. Park Pride's annual conference took place Monday, and the theme this year couldn't have been more perfect: "From Transportation to Greenspace Inspiration: How Visionaries are Transforming Cities." I had the honor of introducing a personal hero, Gil Penalosa, the keynote speaker, and facilitated a panel with Heather and Kevin from Perkins+Will on accessing parks by foot and by bike. You could almost see ideas sparking during Gil's talk and the panel discussion.
On Tuesday we rode with 1,500 cyclists to the Dome during Georgia Rides to the Capitol - a big success this year, thanks to the hard work of Georgia Bikes, especially board member Fred Boykin and excutive director Brent Buice. I ate s'mores from the back of a bike and played a pedal-powered drumset in between listening to elected and appointed state officials laud the bicycle for its ability to reduce congestion and obestiy - not many tools can accomplish both those objectives!
Wednesday ABC participated in a roundtable on the Multimodal Passenger Terminal, which has the potential to radically change downtown Atlanta -- for the better. We were please to hear a lot of interest in our ideas, which include a bike station in the terminal, a bike share location, bike repair, lockers and showers for commuters, and bikeable streets providing access to downtown residents and visitors.
Thursday and Friday we participated in the Atlanta/Decatur Cities for Cycling Roadshow showcasing successful approaches employed by Boston, Washington D.C., and Austin -- brought to us by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). What a great group! I learned so much from the city reps (Nicole Freedman of Boston, Nathan Wilkes of Austin and Mike Goodno of D.C.) that I want to bring to fruition in Atlanta. We ended the workshops with a field trip to see Atlanta's future bicycle improvements in Midtown and Decatur. It's exciting to see the wheels beginning to turn.
Then over the weekend local favorite Sopo Bicycle Coop held another amazing Broken Hearts and Bicycle Parts.
The highlight of our week, though, was the Thursday evening speakers series with the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, “Better Biking for a Safer, Healthier, More Competitive City." Featuring Boston's "bike czar" Nicole Freedman, we learned how she took Boston from among the *worst* cities for cycling in the United States to one of the best.
Key to that success was having a champion in the position of mayor - Mayor Thomas Menino gave Nicole the charge, then supported her initiatives. In 2011 Boston installed its 50th mile of bike lanes, having started with less than a mile back in 2007, has bike lanes on all major bridges, and a very successful bike share program, Hubway, making biking the most convenient option for short trips, not to mention the most fun.
As the city’s assistant director of transportation planning Josh Mello put it in an excellent SaportaReport, “I think 2012 is going to be Atlanta’s watershed year for cycling." We think so too!
Our next goalpost is to work with the city to submit an application for Bicycle Friendly Community status this summer. We may not get there on the first try, but going through the process will illuminate the gaps and help budding champions with the city plot the course ahead. Here's to the bike-friendly future of Atlanta.