Wealthy Atlanta neighborhood wants cyclists out

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by Frank Steele on Jan 09, 2007 at 10:32 PM

MyFox Atlanta | Proposed Cobb Ordinace Would Limit Bicyclists (video)

A popular Atlanta recreational cycling route is under attack, as residents of the neighborhood are pushing for a “no-cruising” ordinance that could fine riders who pass any point on the route more than twice in an hour.

Columns Drive runs along the Chattahoochee River, just inside Cobb County. It’s adjacent to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, and cyclists have ridden laps on Columns Drive, 2.5 miles long, for as long as I can remember (and I was rafting the Chattahoochee 20 years ago). The road is wide, with a wide shoulder; it’s a dead-end (marked, I believe, at 25 mph) which limits traffic; and because it runs parallel to the river, it’s as level as anything in Atlanta. Also, there’s a large parking lot just across Johnson Ferry Road from the mouth of Columns Drive, so many riders drive to the lot, then do 5-mile laps.

The referenced video, from a local station’s evening newscast, is pretty vague about the justification for the ordinance, invoking “crowds of cyclists” that a county commissioner calls “aggressive.” The quoted county official, Robert Quigley, suggests the riders are a “disturbance to the neighborhood,” but these aren’t Harleys with straight pipes. The only time I rode out there it was mostly fairly tame recreational cyclists – the more serious riders are usually looking for bigger miles.

The tool the commissioner wants to use is a No-Cruising Ordinance, more typically enacted on streets with a history of drug dealing or prostitution, which makes it illegal to drive past a single spot more than a set number of times in a set time (often twice in an hour). The story suggests the ordinance, if passed, would apply to cyclists, skateboarders, and inline skaters, but makes no mention of cars.

Also:

BikeSBL.org | No More Riding on Columns Dr. (proposed ordinance)

(BikeSBL.org is the website of Atlanta’s Southern Bicycle League, and the first domain name I ever registered, when I was SBL’s first and worst webmaster.)

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Comments: 5

Strong lobbyists are key and a good use of lobbyists. Here in WA, we’ve got Cascade and the Bicycle alliance as well. The cops on Mercer Island periodically harass cyclists, as it’s a popular loop. One time I argued with a cop that it’s a state law that we can ride two abreast. Luckily we have a cop on our team and on the ride and they talked cop talk and the confrontation ended.

There’s also been a long-standing legal battle over a rails to trails project that’s pitting land owners against cyclists and conservationists. I don’t know where that’s at now.

Atlanta must be a splendid place to live: apparently it has no real crime and the police are free to spend their time busting jaywalking historians and recreational cyclists.

Perhaps a Critical Mass is called for through this neighborhood. Seriously, the issue is whether a street is public space accessible by anyone, or is it exclusively for motorist access to residences on the street. The fact that bicyclists would prefer this short stretch says a lot about the bicycle UN-friendliness of Atlanta. That’s the larger issue.

I’m torn on this one. This does not appear to be a case of transportational cyclists being forced from the road. Instead, it’s a case where people are using this neighborhood as a training circuit. I imagine it would become a bit tiresome for the residents to deal with lycra-clad, iPod-wearing yuppie hammerheads whizzing around the circuit, oblivious to traffic(notice the illegal turn the guy made in the video). I would like to know what was meant by the comment that cyclists were “aggressive”. I’m pretty much car-free, OK. I respect other cyclists, no matter if they are Huffy-riding DUI riders or yuppie dentists on Lancealikes. But we all have to respect the traffic laws.

Thanks for mentioning this on your blog. I live on Columns and moved there for the recreational opportunities including the cycling. Many other folks have moved here for the same reason. Most of the congestion is on Saturday morning and perhaps Sunday morning and a few evenings a week during the summer. Groups like Team in Training have started bringing large groups down for workouts which may be causing a lot of the issues. Most residents are friendly and respectful.

Information on meetings is as follows:

“I have exchanged emails with Rob Hosack of Cobb County. You do not need to pre-register or anything to speak you views at the public hearings are scheduled for Tuesday, January 23, 2007 and Tuesday, February 27, 2007. The hearings are at 7:00 pm prior to the beginning of the regularly scheduled BOC meetings. The public hearings and BOC meetings will be held in the BOC Meeting Room, 100 Cherokee Street, Marietta, GA 30090. “

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