Athens Attempts to Increase Bicyclist and Pedestrian Safety

Tyler Dewey, 36, loads his bike at the BikeAthens Bike Recycling Program shop on Friday, September 15, 2017. Dewey hopes that the Athens in Motion bicycle and pedestrian master plan will increase awareness of cyclists’ rights on the road. (Photo/Noelle Lashley, ncl72991@uga.edu)

ATHENS, GEORGIA – Athens-Clarke County is constructing a new bicycle and pedestrian master plan, Athens in Motion, with the intention of making the roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

The plan rates roads on a level of comfort scale that ranges from one to five, with a score of one being the safest and five being the least safe for cyclists of varying skill levels. The ratings system is bolstered by Athens-Clarke County residents who point out problem areas for bicyclists and pedestrians on an interactive map provided by the county.

“The majority of the crashes happen pretty much very close to downtown Athens,” said Tyler Dewey, executive director of the nonprofit BikeAthens. “But all of the fatalities happen outside the loop, or have happened outside the loop, and largely because you have higher traffic speeds outside the loop.”

A fall 2016 report by the League of American Bicyclists ranked Georgia as the 25th most bicycle-friendly state in the country. As of 2016, The bicycle friendly report card for Athens-Clarke County showed that 21% of high-speed roads in the county are equipped for safe travel by bicyclists. Athens-Clarke County scored a three out of ten in the categories of mainstreaming bicycle culture and motorist awareness.

Click the link below to listen and learn more about how the Athens in Motion master plan proposes to serve cyclists and pedestrians in Athens-Clarke County.

The goal of Athens in Motion isn’t just to make recreational weekend walks and bicycle rides more pleasant. Drew Raessler, the director of the Athens-Clarke County Department of Transportation and Public Works, aims to make bicycling and walking safer for those who have to do it every day.

“A lot of people…using the bicycle and pedestrian network are using it out of necessity,” Raessler said. “They’re using it to get to jobs. They’re using it to get to the grocery store.”

Watch the video below to learn more about cycling safety in Georgia and in Athens-Clarke County.

The state of Georgia took steps to improve bicycle safety with the passage of Georgia House Bill 101 in 2011, which requires drivers to give cyclists three feet of space when passing them on the road. Georgia law states that bicycles are legally considered to be slow vehicles

Athens-Clarke County will continue to develop the master plan until mid to late 2018. Athens residents have until October 2017 to point out problem streets, intersections and crosswalks in the wikimap of Athens-Clarke County.

To see an Athens-Clarke County resident’s point of view on cycling safety, watch the video below.

 

By Noelle Lashley, Ryan Swindell and Brian Gierok

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