Bicycling In Atlanta Kicking Into High Gear

Atlanta currently has 45 miles of bike lanes, but Rebecca Serna says the city is soon to become more bike-friendly.
Atlanta currently has 45 miles of bike lanes, but Rebecca Serna says the city is soon to become more bike-friendly.
Credit Sharif Hassan / Courtesy Atlanta Bicycle Coalition

Rebecca Serna speaks with Rose Scott and Denis O'Hayer about the “state of bicycles” in Atlanta.

On Tuesday, Atlanta voters said yes to a $250 million infrastructure bond package that will begin to address the city’s backlog of infrastructure projects. This means drivers will eventually see re-paved roads, and pedestrians will have fixed sidewalks — but what about the city’s cyclists?

Rebecca Serna is executive director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, the non-profit group that conducted the feasibility study for the city’s upcoming bicycle share program. She joined the “A Closer Look” studio to talk about the state of bicycling in the city. 

Serna said that the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition would like to see Atlanta become a city where everyone, not just habitual cyclists, feels comfortable pedaling down the street. However, she explained that, although many Atlantans may be afraid to ride a bike on the city’s congested roads, the city is on its way to becoming more bike-friendly. 

The new infrastructure bond package list includes 12 new bike lanes that would run along entire city streets. Serna said that adding bike lanes to roads like DeKalb Avenue would make traffic more predictable, with cars no longer unsafely swerving to pass a cyclist.

The most important thing to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition when looking at locations for bicycle paths was connectivity, which Serna said is Atlanta’s main problem when it comes to cycling. She noted that while the city currently has 45 miles of bicycling paths, they don’t always connect in a convenient way.

With new bike paths slated to be installed downtown, Serna predicted that the next few years will be “big” for bikes. But she noted that pedestrians, walkers, and drivers will all have to get rid of the “tribe mentality” that can lead to unsafe practices between users of one transportation method to another.

“You can’t necessarily change human behavior.  When someone acts like a jerk on a bike, they probably act like a jerk when they drive,” Serna said.

She said she hopes that the bike share program, set to begin this summer, will provide a helpful transit option for commuters and get non-cyclists excited about riding on two wheels.