The freedom of discovery, the ability to achieve goals by climbing that hill and then coasting down the other side, and the feeling of momentum because even though you might not be pedaling, you are still moving forward. That alone cannot be said for running or walking. Ahhh … the joys of bicycles and what it can do for the mood.
John F. Kennedy said it best with: “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.” And the great Albert Einstien: “I thought of that while riding my bicycle.”
But lest you think that cyclists are the ones defined as those in that crazy bright colored lycra riding on the shoulder of the highway or main road through town, think again.
Yes, those people are avid bike lovers but actually comprise less than one percent of the riders who ride regardless of the road or weather condition. But, for the 60 percent of people who are the “interested but concerned” populace (myself included) who ‘would’ ride if there was a wider shoulder or a painted or curb between the bike and the cars, more infrastructure should be in place to promote riding as an alternative transportation method.
Milledgeville has one. Savannah and Athens do too. There is even one in Oconee County, but Rome does not have one.
What do these larger (and some not) cities and counties have that Rome and Floyd County do not? A bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group.
Just what is a bicycle advocacy group, what do they do and why are they important? An advocacy group is comprised of citizens who are committed, interested, and have the time, money and skills to make things happen to promote cycling as a safe and viable form of transportation.
Consider this. In a 2011 University of Georgia survey, over 80 percent of Georgians responded that they want more facilities for cycling and more than 90 percent said they want a long-term investment in quality of life infrastructure such as bike lanes, paths and better transportation planning.
Now that 29 percent of Americans are obese and 1 in 5 children are obese, what better way to put resources into combating the car dependence, inactivity, and urban sprawl that has dominated our society the last several decades?
You need look no further than Savannah’s Advocacy Group, Savannah Bicycle Campaign, to get a first-hand glimpse of their recent success in setting and achieving goals. Recently, the Savannah City Council approved an on-street pavement marked southbound lane to provide a safe alternative for wrong way bike traffic.
To put it in layman’s terms, two auto travel lanes were converted into a parking lane, a bike lane and an auto travel lane. Neighborhoods along Price Street, where this occurred, have supported this project because it calms the speeding traffic that resulted in numerous car crashes by cars traveling too fast through the neighborhood. Can you think of some areas in Rome and Floyd County that would benefit from dedicated facilities such as bike lanes on higher traffic streets?
I can, and that is precisely the value of an advocacy group’s efforts to provide new stripes of paint, better neighborhoods filled with people interacting on a human level.
For the first time since WWII, Americans, namely ages 16-34, are driving less and using alternative forms of transportation more, according to the April 2012 report Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young People are Driving Less and what it Means for Transportation Policy.
The report found that the average American is driving six-percent fewer miles in 2011 than in 2004. Factors contributing to this include higher gas prices, new licensing laws, improvements in technology that support alternative transportation preferences, and changes in Generation Y’s values and preferences.
Brent Buice, executive director of Georgia Bikes, Georgia’s statewide advocacy organization, states “this survey underscores other surveys showing that transit, pedestrian and bicycle facilities are desirable components of a balanced transportation system. Communities that rank highly on ‘quality of life’ indices are almost always walkable, bicycle-friendly places.”
According to the Area Development Online Site Selection Survey, recreational opportunities ranks ninth as a quality of life factor in the employer recruitment process. But it’s not just about recreation. It’s about transportation, infrastructure, economic development, tourism, industry and individual recruitment, downtown development, even housing stabilization.
A bicycle advocacy group is more than that. It is a group of individuals and industries who want to help in the process of implementing improvements in their city/county. It is a group that works to inform the public and private sector in order to speed needed change within a community. We need you to make Rome and Floyd County even better and be more successful in keeping businesses and personal talents here.