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Biking in Atlanta is getting more popular, but is it getting any easier?
Midtown resident Connor Davis just moved here from Birmingham, Alabama, where he biked a lot. He calls Atlanta “just a little more evolved,” when it comes to its cycling infrastructure, “as far as having a few more dedicated bike paths, [and] the BeltLine now that can actually traverse a pretty good bit of the area.”
One major reason Davis moved here is this comparative bikeability. Both his new apartment and his new job are on the BeltLine, and he hopes to get around by bicycle as much as possible.
Rebecca Serna, executive director of The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, says conditions for cyclists in Atlanta are improving.
“Oh, we’re definitely better. The great thing about the last five or so years is that each year we’ve gotten significantly better.”
And it might get even better still.
Serna’s excited about the launch of Atlanta’s bike-share program slated for June — which she hopes will get more people biking, and build empathy between occasional bikers and people who bike on a regular basis.
She’s also psyched about the full-time bike planner Atlanta hired last fall.
“It’s allowed the city to have someone that really has their eye on the ball when it comes to biking at all times.”
Because while things are better, there’s still a lot of danger.
Cyclist and Morningside resident Janet Stieglitz reflected on the death of 14-year-old Alexia Hyneman, who was hit by a car while riding her bike in February.
“I mean, she was just a teenager,” says Stieglitz, “and, yeah! It’s very sad and very scary.”
While Stieglitz still bikes around here a lot, she sticks mostly to off-road trails. Atlanta just isn’t as bike-friendly as other cities, she says — something many people out cycling said.
To become a great cycling city, The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s Rebecca Serna says more roads most be engineered to get cars to drive at safe speeds. She also says the BeltLine must be connected to major arteries like Peachtree Street through protected bike paths.
“We’re in a key phase as a city, in that we have the bones of the BeltLine, but what we really need to do is make sure you can safely connect,” she says, adding, “Any trip that you take is only as good as that worst intersection or part of the trip.”
Serna says the clock’s ticking for Atlanta to make these improvements and make them fast — and not just for safety’s sake.
“All the other cities that really trying to make progress when it comes to biking, some of them are a little farther ahead, so I feel that the city who really builds out that bike network first, they’re gonna have a big advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining people.”
The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition is hosting a number of events for National Bike Month. You can learn more here.