Last week, Georgia Voice ran the following, anti-bike opinion piece by radio personality Melissa Carter:
Whenever I am stuck in traffic, I always assume a wreck is the cause. As I pass by any pile-up, I empathize with the potential victims and try to keep a calm head out of respect. But recently, I realized the nearly stand still traffic was being caused by a bicycle and my blood boiled.
I will honestly say that I do not believe in sharing the road. The weight of a car can be 4,000 pounds and a car can reach speeds well over 100 mph. In contrast, the average bicycle ways about 30 pounds and an average rider can only go about 20 mph.
But somehow we have decided that the way to coexist is to travel the same roads together in harmony. However, the burden of traveling safely together ultimately depends on the driver slowing down, swerving over, etc., in an effort not to mortally wound this soul who is inching up a hill on Roswell Road during rush hour.
Often, I see a bicyclist merge into existing traffic and block a lane while holding his or her hand out impatiently for us to slow down as if we “car people” are the problem. And if you come up on a pack of riders, it is even worse since they have no problem riding side by side and taking up an entire lane.
I’ve even been shocked while waiting for a light to turn green to see bicyclists whizzing by my window navigating between cars. Apparently they don’t have to wait for the light to actually turn green if they decide that there are no cars coming.
Once, I saw a cyclist who did decide to wait on the light actually lean on my car for support until the light turned green. I fought the urge to get out and explain that I was not his pace car and taking a break on my car so that he didn’t have to clip out at the light was not part of our deal.
This arrogance increases threefold if a cyclist is “sponsored.” Apparently, a jersey that has a logo or two on it along with the aerodynamic Tour de France helmet translates to some extra level of ownership of the asphalt. Sometimes they seem to be tempting someone to hit them.
It does not look like Atlanta will ever create enough bike paths to get cyclists off the main roads. But I do believe there is a solution that would at least make me feel like drivers and cyclists were being treated a little more fairly.
I want everyone who wants to put their bikes on the main road to get a license and a tag. That certainly isn’t a new idea. A similar effort took place last year in Oregon when a proposed ballot measure sought to create a bicycle education program for people who have not taken the Oregon driver’s test. It would also mandate more police enforcement of traffic laws for cyclists.
To pay for the new bicycle-specific testing and the enforcement, the measure would have required a fee for the endorsement test and registration via a license plate for all bicycles in Oregon.
By having license plates on the bikes, the hope is that this would lead to more responsible behavior and make it easier to hold riders accountable for their actions.
At least if I were behind a cyclist with a license plate, I would know that my extra ten minutes in traffic were the result of some effort on the part of the rider and not just a flippant disregard for all the other tax paying citizens on the road who are doing their best to dodge them.
To truly share the road, we must all share the responsibility for being in each other’s path.
Dear Melissa –
Stay in your lane, lady! You do a lot of good things with charity, but you need to stick with what you know. For starters, a cyclist gets the lane. The whole lane, whether they are riding in a pack or not, that’s for their safety. And the percentage of “sponsored” cyclists, like your friend and former coworker Jeff Dauler who recently took up competing in triathlons, is just a tiny portion of riders out on the road. The vast majority rely on their bikes as their primary form of transportation for school or work, and a lot of them are the LGBT youth that you help with your own charity work, people who can’t afford cars, let alone burdening them with licensing.
Do you know why the burden of safety falls on the driver, Melissa? Because, just like you pointed out, the car you’re in weighs 4,000 pounds and is traveling at high speeds. Drivers are hurtling a death machine down the road that, by Georgia law, must be shared with bikes, which are restricted from the sidewalk, even though we all know the metro area isn’t known for its sidewalks. And requiring cyclists to take a class and get licensed is the equivalent of having people who live in high crime areas get licensed in case they get shot and letting gun owners get off for accidentally discharging their gun.
Why do you think the ballot measure in Oregon failed, a state with a whole heck of a lot of cyclists?
Because it’s a stupid idea.
It’s this sort of nonsense that prevents us from moving forward. Riding a bike on the road can be nerve-wracking because of people like you, Melissa, who think they are entitled to the roads that we all pay for with our tax dollars, even the folks on bikes. I challenge you to get on a bike and try it some time. Ride down Roswell Road, take one of the cycling classes for women at ABC, and donate to the groups that work to elevate the cause of cycling and make it easier for people to get involved and get around by bicycle.
Now for the news!
Glynn County can’t afford the planned bike path on St. Simons island.
Gov. Deal is opposed to repealing the TSPLOST penalty for regions that did not pass the one cent sales tax last July.
Traffic deaths are up 5% nationwide, including cyclist and pedestrian fatalities. I guess we should start requires pedestrians to get licenses to walk, too?
Happy Tuesday reader types! Here’s some privatization-free news!
The suburbs are experiencing a greater increase in poverty than the inner core of Atlanta.
The Georgia Tea Party is supporting HB 153 which allows for split-penny SPLOSTs. Are they hypocrites, or have they just learned to be practical?
A Marietta woman is dead after being hit by three cars trying to cross North Marietta Parkway Saturday night. Two of the drivers remain unidentified. Good news, though, as the original driver who struck her wasn’t hurt, the MDJ reports. Does that outrage anyone else?
Atlanta prepares for the future as it builds its first modern streetcar. Except now the Atlanta Streetcar is slated to begin laying tracks next month, instead of this week, as earlier reported via their Facebook page.
Chattanooga is out pacing us on being a livable city. Did you know, they even have a bike share now, as does Charlotte? Our city’s leadership is justified in worrying that we are falling behind our sister cities.
Those HOT Lanes are apparently working out so well, they are going to extend them out to Hall County.
And in the cute news:
Bunnies have joined the war against cars.
A cat causes a destructive derailment.
Let’s just face it, everything for the foreseeable future will be about HB 264. It’s all the rage right now. And enraging.
Let’s talk about private services for a bit. Sometimes, they can be successful. But most of the time, they are driven by the bottom dollar, which can come at the price of customer service and safety. The Cato Institute has actually linked to my blog posts about the Buford Highway jitneys, saying how successful those are, but I even have in those posts about duck taped doors and faulty air conditioning. And as many of those are owner-operated, there’s no guarantee the drivers aren’t working fifteen hours a day.
Last week a private bus device, Top Class Bus Company, was shut down by the Feds for “blatantly disregarding” safety regulations, including drivers working well beyond regulation and some critical vehicle safety issues. Safety concerns always come up in talks about privatization, and that’s why we need to ensure that HB 264 includes a provision to allows MARTA and its employees to bid on service and an out clause if they don’t get any acceptable bids or if service levels are bad. Don’t forget that MARTA had contracted out its paratransit services in the late 80s and ended up bringing those services back in house because service had gotten so bad.
Want more transit newsiness? Well, you’re in luck!
New bus wraps on Cobb County buses violate the board approved advertising policy, but they didn’t write the policy into the contract with the advertising agency.
The Atlantic Cities thinks we need a geometry lesson.
The AJC reports that the: Economy better, but we still drive less. Not that we would choose to drive less, or anything.
The question of who would pay for the utility and road work on a new stadium is still unanswered. My guess, the tax payers are footing that bill.
And, on a good note, YPT Atlanta will be hosting TOD – Transit Oriented Drinks – tomorrow, Tuesday 19th, at 6:00 pm at the Brick Store Pub in Decatur.
Thanks for stopping by! (is this not the lamest way to end a post? I feel so anticlimactic.)
Yesterday was HB 264′s day in the Transportation Committee. The hearing, in which there was no public comment made, did show some more resistance to the bill, but it still made it out of committee. You can read the live tweets of the hearing over at Spotify.
The bill will now head to the House floor, by way of the Rules Committee. There is a floor session next Tuesday, but I don’t believe the Rules Committee will have had time to consider it and place it on the calendar. Check back here for updates on that process.
And because I haven’t told you enough about HB 264, Creative Loafing has also covered Wednesday’s hearing.
Your daily newsiness:
MARTA is hosting a Development Day March 7th to discuss TODs.
Hey lookie here, a fellow blogger wrote an Etiquette Handbook for the Boston T. I love etiquette. Maybe one day people will learn some and I won’t have to body check the people who won’t let me off the train before trying to board.
The NY Times has covered the Beltline.
A new bill would prevent lobbyists from buying legislators plane tickets, but would allow for them to pay for other modes of travel. Looks like Amtrak has started lobbying in Georgia.
I’m not sure what I’ll do about weekend news. Depending on if there is any, I may post on Sunday. If not, Monday’s post may be epic.
HB 264, which dropped Friday, passed out of subcommittee yesterday with only Rep. Pat Gardner voting against it, despite every public comment being negative. You can read tweets from the hearing on my Spotify story. The bill proceeds to the full Transportation committee today at 2:00 at the Cloverdell office building, room 506. You bet your bottom dollar I’ll be there. I may even make public comment again.
Some police officers were arrested for apparently taking hush money from gangs and aiding drug deals, including one MARTA officer.
Creative Loafing has a cycling opinion piece up today.
GRTA quietly asks the state to continue its funding, while the state fails to fund any other transit.
Legislation has been introduced to end the Amtrak monopoly, because so many other passenger rail providers are going bankrupt from the competition.
Cobb DOT looks to Cleveland for how to build a BRT.
Finally, to end on a good note (best note ever) it’s Valentine’s Day! If you’re on Twitter (you best be following me) play along with our #twitterthursday game and give us your best #transitpickuplines.
There’s not a lot of news today, outside of the hastily called rail and transit transportation subcommittee meeting this afternoon to present Rep. Jacob’s bills, HB 264 and 265. Things that transit advocates could take issue with included in these bills:
*State mandated privatization of MARTA jobs including paratransit and customer service reps
*Suspension of the defined benefit pension plan for future employees (a union thing)
*Revision of collective bargaining including allowing the governor to appoint an arbitrator or a retired superior court judge (another union thing)
*Lifting of the 50/50 restriction with the exemption that these funds can not be used for an increase of wages or benefits (which MARTA employees haven’t had in five years now)
*Reconfiguring the MARTA board including taking board appointees from South Fulton for North Fulton and giving an appointee to the governor.
You can find out more about these bills at:
HB 265 (not really important, it basically just eliminates the MARTA provisions in the old HB277, because Jacobs doesn’t like having anything to do with MARTA being housed outside of the MARTA act itself)
The meeting will take place at 12:30 at room 606 in the Cloverdale office building beside the Gold Dome.
So why should you be concerned? For starters, who thinks the state should get more control over something they have no investment in? I am perfectly willing to give the governor an appointment to the board if he will give us some state funding, but with the state in a billion dollar deficit, I don’t see that happening, and isn’t MARTOC enough of a burden to bear? As far as I see it, he already has two appointments to the board in the GDOT and GRTA staff members, anyways.
The employment stuff? Happy employees are better employees, and infuriating the union by taking away what they see as their rights will only make for grumpy employees, which will then make the customers grumpy, which will then make everyone grumpy.
And for privatization? Let’s not forget how a few years ago MARTA did outsource paratransit operations and ended up bringing it back in house because it was so unsuccessful. I’m all for outsourcing when it makes business sense, and that certainly applies for administrative functions, but remember that happy employee thing and think about if you’d like your job to be sold off to the lowest bidder. But because I’m all psychologisty and stuff, here’s some studies that, as far as I’m concerned, come from some unbiased sources (*ahem* not the Cato Institute):
The University of California, Berkley, found that “while contracting appears to have the potential to substantially reduce costs, the trade offs involved may be considerable, and the broader social objectives of transit need to be kept in mind.”
The Economic Policy Institute also finds that privatization establishes the wrong priority for for transit.
Leland and Smirnova took a twenty-five year look at privatization and found that it is no more efficient than public agencies themselves.
I’m not saying this shouldn’t be considered, I’m saying that MARTA shouldn’t be mandated to privatize without fully vetting if it’s in the agency’s best interest. And who is a state with no stake in the game to determine that?
The thing that strikes me most about the city’s push to build a new stadium to lure the Superbowl to Atlanta isn’t how the current one isn’t even paid for yet, but how this would effect transit options to the shiny new temple of American commercialism. New Orleans, the fine city that just hosted the Superbowl, built a streetcar to the stadium and opened it the week before the game to much fanfare and a visit from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, while Atlanta would be moving it’s stadium further away from transit. Transit helped get the Olympics to Atlanta, how would the Superbowl committee feel about a non accessible stadium? If I were on the committee, I’d frown more about how much that would effect game day than the age of the stadium and if it had a retractable roof.
And now some news:
The state Senate Transportation subcommittee for roads and bridges meets today at 3:30.
Who would have thought, but the AJC can write positive stories about MARTA (except how did they find that blogger and what blogger doesn’t want the traffic to their site?): Transit riders are healthier and have less stress.
Time covers parking, and why it should be more expensive. I think this is one of the biggest problems we have with transit in Atlanta, and also a way to increase ridership while funding MARTA.
Another story covering Rep. Jacob’s proposed legislation paints the legislator as paranoid:
Jacobs said he wanted to make privatization a done deal at MARTA because of fears that future administrations or boards would not be
committed(would realize that this isn’t the cure for all our woes) to the privatization that GOP legislators are demanding.
Another story on the proposed multimodal station at Atlantic Station. Do we need a new Amtrak station? Yup. Do we need a big new station there? Not necessarily. In fact, it wouldn’t be my preference. Per a 2009 study that included the city, Amtrak, MARTA, GDOT, the Beltline, and ARC, found the preference for station locations downtown (the MMPT) and along the Northeast line of MARTA, at either the Chamblee, Brookhaven, or Lenox stations, which would have door-to-door transit connections. This new station, the brainchild of SRTA who purchased the land several years ago, would require building that Connect Cobb line to have a MARTA rail connection. Which I’m all for. Can we tie those two projects together? SRTA builds the rail line along with the station and I’ll be the spokesperson.
Happy Fat Tuesday!