This is so very true in Atlanta. Despite the dedicated effort and steady progress of many individuals, it will be years - even decades - before we see a meaningful change in the local infrastructure. But bicyclists don't have to wait. The roads are there and all but a handful are legally available to bicycles. If people started cycling in large numbers, the right lane would simply become a de facto bicycle lane.
Sure, this is basically a fantasy right now. And I fully acknowledge that there are many areas in the suburbs where this would still be pretty challenging amongst the high-speed highways, rumble strips, and disconnected subdivisions. But in the city center, it can seem tantalizingly close at times.
Yesterday, I rode out to do some shopping. Shopping by bicycle is super easy here. Many of our best shopping centers are close to MARTA train stations, bicycle routes, or both. Taking your bike on the train is easy and allowed at any time. There is a great website that will help you plan a route by bicycle or bicycle and transit, as well as walking and transit. You can customize it not only by by the distance you are willing to ride, but also by the steepness of the hills and the type of roads!
On the way there, I had one of those moments - I was passing one everyday (non-spandexy) cyclist while another zipped by in the opposite direction. Due to the low-volume holiday week car traffic, we approached about a 50% bicycle mode share for a block or two... At the mall, the Takara felt very lonely.
Can you find the bicycle in this photo? Hint: I had to draw a circle around it!
But as I was leaving, I saw two separate cyclists riding off at the same time, and another bike locked up on the other side of the parking lot. It's a start!