Atlanta suburb pursuing single-file bike restrictions

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by Frank Steele on Feb 06, 2007 at 9:37 PM

ajc.com | Cycling in single file may end road debate

A suburban Atlanta county commissioner plans to give up his attempt to ban cyclists on a popular local training route, instead seeking a rule requiring riders to travel single-file.

Local cyclists got involved after the story hit the media, and a committee suggested the single-file rule as a possible compromise after meeting Monday night. Cobb County’s Board of Commissioners will likely take up the as-yet-unfinished ordinance February 27th.

Cyclist Mark Gernazian, who served on the committee, said the cyclists have softened their insistence on their rights. “Trying to drive home our rights to the road was not going to create any harmony on Columns Drive,” he said.

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Comments: 20

I agree with the residents. We aren’t talking about an area trying to get rid of bike commuters, or people riding their bikes as a form or transportation. No, we’re talking about an area which has become popular with people for training purposes. I would imagine dealing with dozens of hammerhead racer wannabes would be annoying at best, and dangerous at worst. If these people want to “train”, do what we all do—-get out to the country and ride on lightly trafficked roads. Doing what these cyclists are doing in Atlanta simply reinforces the image lots of people have of bicycles——TOYS.

Atlanta pretty much wrote the book on urban sprawl, and this is one of those chickens coming home to roost.  If you look at a map of the metro area, you can see that the 285 “beltway” is just the middle ring (if that) of an urban growth pattern.  You can’t just expect groups to caravan 30 miles out just to ride their bikes.


In the Twin Cities, we do have some sprawl, but there is also a system of trails, bike lanes, and marked bike routes for bicycling both in the city, and making one’s way out to open county roads.  I mean, I can commute from Minneapolis to my job in downtown St. Paul and never have to ride on anything but trails, dedicated lanes, or quiet residential streets until I get to downtown, using a direct route, no less.

I’d say the [pedal pub](http://www.pedalpub.com/) needs to roll through that neighborhood! But seriously, in Seattle, we’ve got Mercer Island that has similar problems—they never updated the road to make it wider with all the new homes, want to keep it without shoulders, and cyclist come through and there’s lots of tension. My suggestion on Mercer is one way bike traffic.

I have been to Atlanta, and it’s a hole. However, that doesn’t make it OK for packs of hammerheads to take over this area as a training ground. Bikes as toys.

Mike,

Do you think people that train or race only use bikes as toys? I can assure you, riding your bike for 4 hours in the rain either with a group, in a race, or by yourself is definitely not using it as a toy.

DL—

  I think that when people pack their bikes onto their SUVs and drive to this neighborhood to “train”, they are promoting the image of “bikes as toys”. They’re not going anywhere. They are playing and using this neighborhood as their own playground, and giving all cyclists a bad name.
  The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys, and in the video I’ve seen of this Atlanta area I saw lots of lycra-clad, iPod wearing hammerheads violating traffic laws and being general PITAs. So yes, if you’re “training” or “racing” but not doing it professionally, you’re engaging in your hobby and using your bike as a toy. If the residents were targetting ALL cyclists, I would be upset. But they’re not. The residents are upset that people from outside the neighborhood have decided to use it as a playground, and are making life unnecessarily difficult for the residents. They should go ride somewhere else. Or perhaps they could bike commute, or go take a Spin class.

versus what? What’s not using your bike as a toy then? And I don’t disagree with the neighbors.

DL—-

  I commute by bike 5 days a week. I do all my grocery shopping on my bike. I go to the movies on my bike. That’s not using your bike as a toy. I’m a transportational cyclist.

Apparently none of you actually live in Atlanta. I do. I also run the regional cycling race website. Get this…it may *SHOCK YOU**!! Homeowners, cyclists, the County Commissioner, and runners are working together to solve the problem. Committee have been formed and are working to come up with solutions that are acceptable to all groups. There is a lot more to the issue than just what these few paragraphs say. This is a public road and open to all kinds of traffic including bikes UNDER GEORGIA STATE LAW that considers a bike a vehicle. This is not a closed, private road that people are trespassing on as has been portrayed in some of the media. The road does service several neighborhoods as well as several entrances to a National Recreation area, but it is a PUBLIC road.

It isn’t just the few cyclists that have caused problems, runners have as well. I’ve even seen ladies with baby joggers running down the middle of the road in car traffic on this road. The problems are certainly not caused by JUST cyclists.

Columns Dr. is also a cut through for bike commuters rather than them having to go on one of two very narrow and winding roads that parallel Columns. I used to use this cut through when I commuted to work on my bike. (I now live in a different area of Atlanta.)

Also, there are no bike lanes on Columns. The “bike lanes” people have been referring to are just wide shoulders. They do not meet the state DOT regulations for being official bike lanes. One of the solutions that may go through is to construct a sidewalk for the runners, a DOT approved bike lane, and then a “car” traffic lane. This would be years away, though.

Traveling 30 miles outside of the city to train is not an option with Atlanta traffic during the week. Columns provides a safe area for people to train. Yes, there are other areas of Atlanta to ride in, but this is the only flat road in Atlanta—really. The ATL is very hilly.

Nobody has said this is a private road. What has been said is that carloads of people have been bringing their bikes to this area, then riding loops to “train”, while disregarding traffic laws and being inconsiderate. If we are all going to be respected, we have to be respectful in return. That would mean not treating somebody’s neighborhood as a playground. Nobody is concerned about the commuters cutting through—-it’s the hammerheads who are causing the problem.

TA,

Thanks for joining the convo and your input—is there more articles or a local blog you can link us to? Mike, you’re toy-riding hammerheads v. the good commuter characterization appears incorrect. While your opinion is respected, I think you’re dissing cyclists that don’t ride like you —see my [commuter challenge](http://bikehugger.com/2006/07/the_commuter_challenge_1.htm) post for reference. Whatever gets cyclists out on the roads is what matters.

DL—-I’m not “dissing” cyclists who don’t ride like me. I’m criticizing cyclists who ride in a manner which gives us all a bad name. If people are using this neighborhood as a training area, and being pains in the butt, I don’t blame the motorists for being upset. I also appreciate wanting to get people on bikes—-but if they are going to be viewed as people on toys because of their behavior, then they don’t help.

I’d like to clear a couple things up regarding my use of Columns drive since I spend at least three times a week there (2hr+ rides). I’ve been riding there consistently for the past year and yes, I do pack my car up and drive over there but I am no “Bike as a toy” guy. The fact is that getting there after work is very unsafe for me since the road I’d take to get there is tight & twisty and sketchy at best…I live only 2 miles away so driving over there really sucks! Most of the folks driving on the road to get there are antsy to begin with since they are battling the insane Atlanta traffic and in that “I’ll kill ya” mode. I’ve been hit five times on GA roads in the many years I’ve been riding here, 3 were hit and runs and twice I made it into the trauma room… none were my fault. I do upwards of 15 hours a week and have done two IM’s plus raced MTB’s and right now I’m training for another IM so riding long hours on the flats is very important to me at this stage. After the last wreck (Lady ran a red) I was injured pretty bad, I was off the bike for a while and gained a bunch of weight lying around not training (I weighed 360lbs to be exact). Once I got out of the slump I was in I was scared to ride on the road for fear of being hit again and chose Columns dr. as my “training” route. So far I’ve lost 60lbs doing my thing out there and I’m looking forward to dropping another 50. I spend at least two hours out there and in that time frame I have yet to see any bikers peeing on folks lawns or riding two+ abreast unless they are passing. I do however see a bunch of Joggers/walkers running 2+ abreast when I am coming towards them… None of them move but I do the look back thing for cars and put myself out in the lane so they do not have to jump up on the grass. I do not mind doing this but find it odd that they never move out of the way of a huge 6’4 300lb biker. I’m always cordial to the folks out there and am very saddened about this so called “proposal”.

I pay $25 to be able to park my car in the state parking lot and I never venture into the park since it’s a gravel path and not so good for skinny tires!

“If these people want to “train”, do what we all do—-get out to the country and ride on lightly trafficked roads.”

You would need to put yourself in this area to see that this comment is not valid. You cannot get around Atlanta during heavy traffic times period. I live 2 miles away from Columns and it takes me over ten minutes to get there during rush hour.

“I have been to Atlanta, and it’s a hole. However, that doesn’t make it OK for packs of hammerheads to take over this area as a training ground. Bikes as toys.”

Whenever I ride in a “pack” over at Columns it’s the single file type, I do not condone taking up the whole lane even though we can roll as fast if not faster then the cars do. None of my bikes are toys even though I have fun on them. I’m all about being safe and around here it’s not easy.

“I think that when people pack their bikes onto their SUVs and drive to this neighborhood to “train”, they are promoting the image of “bikes as toys”. They’re not going anywhere. They are playing and using this neighborhood as their own playground, and giving all cyclists a bad name. The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys, and in the video I’ve seen of this Atlanta area I saw lots of lycra-clad, iPod wearing hammerheads violating traffic laws and being general PITAs. So yes, if you’re “training” or “racing” but not doing it professionally, you’re engaging in your hobby and using your bike as a toy.”

I don’t have an SUV but I do drive over there to ‘train” so I guess I’m giving biking a bad name huh? You sir, give the human race a bad name from the uneducated opinion you seem to have regarding the wearing of Lycra… A little tidbit for ya… Bike shorts help keep your taint happy!

‘Violating traffic laws’???? Another little FYI for ya… the speed limit on Columns is 30 then it goes down to 25 on the tighter sections. There are no lights or stop signs to contend with so I really do not understand your point but please try and explain since you seem to know what the majority of toy riders are doing out there.

-Scott

Biggie—-if there wasn’t a problem with cyclists in this area, nobody would have complained, would they? Secondly, I’m sorry you have chosen to live in an area which is so unfriendly to bikes. Sounds to me like you have three options—-suck it up, take a spin class, or move. As for my referring to violating traffic laws—-in the video which was shown of the area, a cyclist(lycra-clad hammerhead with an iPod, to be specific), is shown making a left turn around a corner from the right lane to the left lane. Not cool. I’m a 5 day a week bike commuter. I’m also car-free, so I do all my errands and shopping on my bike, rain or shine. Perhaps you should change your life?

I should change my life? HUH? My life is wonderful thank you very much but yours must be hell considering that fact that you seem to harbor so much hate. Do you think you are some hero just because you are a 5 day a week commuter and car free? Been there done that but I never had that “I’m too cool for those lycra wearing Lance wannbees” attitude that you seem to have.

“I do all my errands and shopping on my bike….rain or shine” Gee friggin wiz, you want a medal or something? Personally, I have an affliction towards cars, I build Hot Rods and find them rather enjoyable.


So let’s see, as you see it, I have three options —-suck it up, take a spin class, or move.

1. Suck what up? Just because a couple disgruntled old men who claim that bikers are doing 40-50mph on a flat road are trying to take one of my training spots away will not stop me from riding. I do well over 15 hours a week and have very specific goals so I’m not sucking anything up. I went to the town meeting regarding this issue and know for a fact that the ones who are pushing it are just like you, they hate bikers.

2. Take a spin class? I do three spin classes a week, last night I spent 3 hours on the spin bike including the actual spin class so again your point is moot. I also ride my trainer at home since when it’s too cold to venture out. On the weekends, I do my long rides (+5 hours each day).

3. Move? I live very close to work and that helps in my training regime considering the traffic issues around Atlanta so again you have no clue.

“In the video which was shown of the area, a cyclist(lycra-clad hammerhead with an iPod, to be specific),is shown making a left turn around a corner from the right lane to the left lane.”

Mike, do you have some problem with Lycra? I guess you are just one those bike commuters that think they are much better then the Lycra/Toy bike hammerhead type riders right? You seem to have a bunch of hate towards that fabric and those SUV driving, Toy bike riding hammerheads for your own good… I know… you may want to change you life!

I don’t know what video you are talking about but if it’s of the back part of Columns dr then that would be the turn-around near the parking lot. That is the normal turnaround spot and most guys take it wide. It’s a dead end and there is an actual turnaround lane there just for that reason but then again you have never actually been there and know not of what you speak anyway.

Good luck with all that hate and keep telling others about how great you are since you are car free… to bad your not carefree huh?

Guys,

Let’s wrap this one up—this isn’t a *flame forum* and as I stated above, we’re here for cyclists of all types. I’ll close this one, if you can’t play nice. Debate sure, but let’s keep it positive, upbeat, and drop the bikes as toys argument.

just wanted say something here. bicycles are a huge obstruction of traffic! ever been to suches, very twisty roads blind corners and people on bikes riding 2-4 a breast. very dangerous. is going to take a car or truck to hit you a group of you for yall to learn how to respect others on the road…..“share the road” is just that. share it. im tired of yall crying thinking yall should be allowed to do whatever you want on any road. dont train in neighborhoods, and decide when is a good time to get into single file and hug the shoulder. respect others.

i bike, mtb build cars and run motorcycles, and yall a bigger pain trying to get around than big trucks.

as far the “we need a flat road to train opn” comment…..please hills are good for training. quit crying. what i think you ment to say was “im to weak to climb a hill”

im not sorry if i offended anyone here. thats the truth…ill do everything i can to make sure the singlefile law is passed.

till then, please dear god please, stop wearing spandex.

bikes
No Pollution
Better Health
Less Deadly Accidents
Less Road Wear
Less Parking Space

Cars
BAD Pollution
Get Fat sitting in your car
Tens of Thousands of deadly Crashes
Drunk Driving
Parking and Traffic Nightmare

Ya, you’re right. It’s the bicycle riders who are totally ruining the world.

Try driving your car the posted speed limit on Columns and you will often be accompanied by an impatient driver from behind trying to intimidate you to drive faster by tailgating.
Apparently, it is effective to be aggressive and complain about things like cars driving the speed limit and bikes/joggers/walkers if it can divert the attention from one’s own exemption from the law.
The fact that a neighborhoods “quality of life” is more directly related to the adherence of the speed limit by autos than by any of these other activities should be causing an uproar with the very people who are standing behind these aggressors. Stand by the 25 mph sign and see for yourself - 9/10 cars that go by are doing over 35 with many going 40+. 90% of the traffic on Columns is cars and most of them are speeding. If there was truly an effort underway to improve the conditions for cars/bikes/pedestrians to get along, then the biggest bang for the buck would be to make the cars go the posted speed limit.
Now, I realize that this also holds true for the bikers… from some of the comments I’ve read there are cyclists pedaling 35-40mph up and down Columns for hours at time passing all the cars driving the speed limit. Those guys must all be over in France right now doing the Tour because the majority of cyclists on Columns that I’ve seen can’t hold 25mph for more than 1 loop (5 miles) and the average is probably more like 20-22 for anything over 2-3 loops. Don’t even get me started on those speeding runners….
I have had very enjoyable bike rides down at Columns staying as far to the right as I safely can and coexisting as best I can with the auto traffic, and for the most part have had no problems. In the rare times that I drive my car there, I also make sure that I respect the speed limits posted.

It is my observation (and I have no data to back it up) is that the people who exhibit aggressiveness to others are for the most part, also the aggressive drivers who are above driving the speed limit.

Why they have been granted such a stage to pretend to change the laws for the “good of their community” is beyond me. 

Interesting debate over there in Cobb County. This ordinance might be illegal under Georgia law, though; it would be up to a court to decide whether the ordinance is valid. I’ve tried to gather the relevant Georgia laws applicable to regulating bicycles and traffic in general:

O.C.G.A. 40-6-294(b) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

O.C.G.A. 40-6-370 The provisions of this chapter and the definitions contained in Code Section 40-1-1 shall be applicable and uniform throughout this state and in all counties and municipalities therein, and no local authority shall enact or enforce any ordinance on a matter covered by the provisions of this chapter except as expressly authorized in Code Sections 40-6-371 and 40-6-372.

O.C.G.A 40-6-371.
(a) This chapter shall not be deemed to prevent local authorities with respect to streets and highways under their jurisdiction and within the reasonable exercise of the police power from:
[non-relevant parts removed]
(3) Regulating or prohibiting processions or assemblages on the highways;
[non-relevant parts removed]
(13) Prohibiting or regulating the use of heavily traveled streets by any class or kind of traffic found to be incompatible with the normal and safe movement of traffic;
(14) Establishing minimum speed limits as authorized by law;
[non-relevant parts removed]
(19) Adopting and enforcing such temporary or experimental regulations as may be necessary to cover emergencies or special conditions; or
[non-relevant parts removed]
(c) No ordinance or regulation enacted under paragraph (4), (5), (6), (8), (9), (10), (11), (12), (13), (14), (15), (16), (17), or (18) of subsection (a) of this Code section shall be effective until official traffic-control devices giving notice of such local traffic regulations are erected upon or at the entrances to the highway or the part thereof affected as may be most appropriate.

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