Thursday, September 20, 2012

Georgia to accommodate bicycles on all state roads

Georgia has reached a neww milestone today with the Department of Transportation's adoption of a routine accommodation policy. Similar to "complete streets" laws, this policy ensures that road project planners and engineers will consider motor vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic requirements.

The policy is a much needed shift from recent decades, which have left the state with an inventory of public infrastructure that cannot safely or efficiently handle pedestrian and bicycle traffic. As a result, we have been unprepared for the travel demands of aging baby boomers who can no longer drive, or post-suburban Gen Y households seeking traditional walkable neighborhoods. Not to mention, of course, the extra costs, the added safety risks, the lost mobility for Georgia residents due to a lack of alternatives to driving.

After today, our roads can be appropriately configured for actual traffic conditions, not an imaginary world in which every person gets behind the wheel for every single trip. I expect to see vast improvements in mobility, safety, health, and productivity as these guidelines get implemented.

Of course, it will still be important for community members and representatives to show up at planning meetings and project hearings. This policy doesn't mean putting bike lanes on every road, willy nilly. There are many types of bicycle amenities and they are appropriate in different settings depending on car, truck, and bicycle traffic volume, speed limit, etc. - including shared lanes, bike lanes, buffered lanes, side paths, cycletracks, and more. Plus, GDOT really doesn't have any data about bicycle usage, nor do they have any estimates of the number of people who need to bicycle along a particular route but are prevented by the current road design.

To learn more about the new policy and all of the great work that went into it, please visit the Georgia Bikes website!

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