Thursday, August 23, 2012

Submitted Letter to the Editor - Bike Lanes

I'd like to say thanks for the feedback I received from several folks on my earlier draft. Here's what I submitted today to the Dunwoody Crier. I hope it will be included in next week's publication:


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To the Editor,

I am writing this to politely remind the readers of the Crier that our elected council represents a broad-based constituency with many diverse interests. And incorporating Bike Lanes into road projects following our Complete Streets policy is a part of that. The citizens spoke very eloquently and their voices have been heard and are reflected in our master plans; guiding our city’s actions over the next 20 years. I would like to provide some points to those who do not favor accommodating bicycles within our transportation network in Dunwoody:

"It gives too much room to the bicyclist" / Narrows the motor vehicle lane to a dangerous width"

Reply: Local examples of 11-ft vehicle lanes & 5-ft bike lanes today are on Roberts Drive and North Shallowford. The south side lane of Dunwoody Club Drive between Spalding & Jett Ferry is striped for 10-ft. The I-75/I-85 Downtown Connector lane widths are 11-ft. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Guide to Bicycle Facilities, (2012) states that Bike Lanes are to be 5 feet in width. These are the nationally-recognized standards that our civil engineers use to design our roadways. In not following these standards, the engineers may expose themselves to liability.  Besides, can you imagine not having to worry about running over a bicyclist or waiting to pass them if they have their own portion of the street to safely travel? (FYI, Governor Deal signed the 3-ft safe passing bill into law last year, so please kindly give bicyclists 3 feet distance when passing, even if you have to wait for the oncoming traffic to clear.)

"Not 100% of the people (taxpayers) ride bicycles / I don’t see many bike riders / why spend the $$, etc."

Reply: 100% of the people do not drive cars, nor do we have 100% disabled people. Yet we accommodate these users.  Dunwoody’s “Complete Streets” policy states we will accommodate all users when undertaking roadwork on our publicly owned rights of way. This means – where it makes sense and where it’s specified in our Transportation Plan – to install bike lanes, paths, sidewalks and ADA compliant crosswalks, etc.  All of the city's plans clearly spell out the residents desire to make Dunwoody more walkable and bikeable -- providing people a choice in short trips.  I’m not espousing anyone to get out of their cars or force them to ride a bike. In 2011, UGA’s Survey Research Center completed a statewide survey of Georgians' attitudes toward and awareness of bicycling issues. 81% of respondents agreed that they would ride a bicycle more frequently if their community had better bicycle facilities such as bike lanes or multi-use paths. Just look at the increase of bikes parked out in the front of Austin Elementary since the bike lanes were installed on Roberts Drive last year.

"Bike Lanes don’t go anywhere"

Reply: Checkout our Transportation Plan. At the current rate, within the next 3-5 years casual bicyclists will be able to safely ride on a bike lane or path to get to our commercial centers, parks and schools.  We only have 12 square miles, and linking each commercial node is about 2 miles apart: At a very slow pace, that’s less than 15 minutes on a bike. As these segments are built and connect, you'll see an explosion of people - families, senior citizens, kids -- out on bikes in our city. Future residents considering Dunwoody will see amenities such as these – along with many other positives -- and will say, ”This looks like a great place to move my business and bring my family” and “Yes, I want to buy your house”.

Sincerely,

Joe Seconder

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