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BICYCLES THE SALVATION OF ATLANTA?

 

Browsing for biking news recently, I looked at the May 1999 issue of Governing, a slick monthly magazine which is sent free to city and county officials. The cover article caught my eye--how Atlanta is starting to attempt to deal with gridlocked traffic! Would there, maybe, be a mention of bicycles? (I confess, I am an optimist!!)

The average commute in Atlanta is 17 miles. The federal government has denied them any new highway money until they improve the air pollution situation (you can bet THAT caught their attention!). Even the big developers are concerned--businesses have decided not to locate in Atlanta because of the terrible traffic problems.

So what have they done so far? They've created a committee, appointed by the governor, which will have wide-ranging power over new development of almost any kind in the whole metropolitan area. You won't build a new mall or housing development without their say-so. The direction they seem to be taking is to try to encourage denser development--less sprawl, more apartments. But there was no mention of bicycles as the salvation of the city. No mention of bicycles at all in the article, which was written by the executive editor, Alan Ehrenhalt. I was disappointed.

Then I read the publisher's introduction to the magazine, entirely devoted to--hold your hats--devoted to biking! The publisher, Peter Harkness, turns out to be a true believer in bicycles as transportation! He writes "I've been biking for some time, rarely drive a car, even on weekends...I've come to view automobiles as the enemy..." He talks about the problems caused by cars all across the country, and the Atlanta situation, and goes on to say "It's clear there won't be any meaningful solution until many more people stop hauling their ton of steel and plastic with them to work and back each day. To do that, we have to rearrange where we live and how we might move around differently. Maybe even by bicycle."

I just wish he had told his executive editor to say something about bicycles in Atlanta. 

 

 

By Bob Boyce

Governing Magazine

 

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08/16/11
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