Georgia State to receive new bike lanes

It is common to see people on bikes weaving through traffic on campus. If cyclists do not maneuver around cars on the street, they must navigate their way down a crowded sidewalk to get to their destination. Downtown Atlanta’s bike lane system is still developing, but more often than not, cyclists share bustling roads and sidewalks with other travelers, which can be dangerous for the cyclist.

A bike advocacy group, People for Bikes, seeks to change this with the introduction of protected lanes, also called cycle tracks, in the city through the Green Lanes Project.

People for Bikes has selected Atlanta to be a part of the next installment in the Green Lane Project, which will include two cycle tracks that will directly serve Georgia State, according to Interim Assistant Director of Planning Jonathan Lewis who works in the transportation department for the city of Atlanta.

The new bicycle lanes will create a safe transportation system for bicyclists.
The new bicycle lanes will create a safe transportation system for bicyclists.

With Georgia State’s campus intertwined with the city of Atlanta, the new bike lanes are intended to make cycling a safer option for students and staff who bicycle to, from and around campus.

“There’s one planned on Peachtree Center Avenue that would run north-south. There is one planned for John Portman Boulevard that would run east-west. So with the combination of those two, Georgia State students would have a protected bike facility,” Lewis said.

By the year 2016, the City of Atlanta seeks to double the percentage of workers who commute via bike from 1.1 percent to 2.2 percent. The City of Atlanta also wants to double the number of miles of high-quality bicycle lanes and facilities from 30 to 60 miles, according to a press release from the City of Atlanta.

Georgia State religious studies Professor Molly Bassett rides her bike regularly to and throughout campus. She said while she feels safer than some cyclists in Atlanta, it is generally unsafe to ride a bike in the city.

“Protected bike lanes would be fantastic and I think it would encourage a lot more people to ride,” Bassett said.

The number of people riding bikes in Atlanta has increased almost 400 percent from 2000 to 2009, according to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, another advocacy organization.

However, without proper infrastructure to cater specifically to the rising number of cyclists, it is not always the safest mode of transportation.

The number of cycling fatalities in Georgia increased from 19 deaths in 2012 to 26 deaths in 2013, according to the Georgia Department of Traffic and the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

The Green Lane Project facilitates the construction of protected lanes, which are different from traditional bike lanes since they are separated from traffic and the rest of the street with the use of curbs, planters, parked cars and posts, according to People for Bikes website.

“Protected bike lanes bring predictability and order to busy streets: drivers like knowing where to expect riders, and pedestrians report fewer bikes on the sidewalk,” according to the organization’s website.

Sophomore Kris Bridges said he rides his bike to class and off campus to places like Centennial Olympic Park and Little Five Points, but he is not in favor of the protected bike lanes.

“All I can think of is the frivolous construction and taking up space on Atlanta’s already narrow streets. I love riding my bike, but I don’t think the bike lanes are a good idea,” Bridges said.

He said that if cyclists can’t keep up with cars on the street, they should ride on the sidewalk.

People for Bikes ultimately chose Atlanta as a participant in the Green Lane Project for two reasons, Lewis said.

“They see a lot of momentum in the 15 projects that we have. They also cited the strong partnership between the city and some of our sister organizations like the Atlanta Beltline and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. They really liked how the not-for-profit sector was working closely with the city,” Lewis said.

The Green Lane Project is one of the ways People for Bikes promotes its larger initiative of advocating bicycling.

People for Bikes works directly with Congress members to lobby reform on the topic of cycling. Also, through the Community Grant Program, the organization funds bicycling projects in cities throughout the U.S, according to the People for Bikes website.

The other cities selected for the Green Lane Project include Boston, Ma., Denver, Co., Indianapolis, In., Pittsburgh, Pa. and Seattle, Wa..

The project will kick off with a press conference in Indianapolis, In. at the end of April.