Now that we are back from the bike summit, and back to regular hours, we’ll begin to focus these posts on Athens efforts to move up the Bike Friendly Community rankings. In evaluating a community, the League of American Bicyclists looks at the 5 E’s: Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation & planning. Before the year is over, we’ll go through each criteria looking at the 2011 League feedback, as well as what we’ve done in the interim (for example, through a partnership with the Municipal Court, Bike Athens has taught basic bike safety to over 750 people in the last two years—Education [check]).
In 2011, the League ID’d the “four most significant measures” Athens should take to improve the streets for those on bike. In 2015, the four measures provide a snapshot of how far we’ve come, and where we need to go:
1. Expand efforts to evaluate the bicycle usage and crash statistics.
- These, of course, go hand-in-hand as crash statistics do not mean much until we know how many people are riding. Athens has counted bikes as it relates to small scale projects, but there has not been a large, official bike traffic count. It is hard to identify streets and intersections that need critical enhancements without knowing how many people ride in Athens. Work to be done!
2. Offer a bicycling skills class on a regular basis [emphasis theirs]
- While it is not open to public, BikeAthens and the Municipal Court have created a Ticket Diversion course. If you get a ticket while riding your bike, you can attend a bike safety class rather than paying the fine (does not apply to all offenses)! The number of ticket diversion programs across the country is growing, but Athens is at the forefront. At the time the course started, it was one of only a handful of ticket diversion programs in the US.
- We also teach a bike skills class every month at the Municipal Court. In the 2 years, since the program’s creation, BikeAthens has taught over 750 people to ride right, ride bright! Perhaps we have not met the emphasized regular basis, but we are making progress.
3. Fully implement the comprehensive bike plan and continue to close gaps in the network. […] Set an ambitious, attainable target to increase the percentage of trips made by bike in the city.
- We’ll save the first part for a more in-depth discussion, but it is soon approaching the time when Athens needs a new Bike Master Plan. While Athens has repeatedly set budgetary goals and objectives to provide sustainable, environmentally sensitive infrastructure, and multi-modal transportation—there is not set mode-share goal. Indeed, to our knowledge, no community in Georgia has official set a mode-share goal. So work to be done!
4. Expanding the bicycle and pedestrian manager’s time focused on these projects.
- Athens has dedicated transportation planners and engineers but no specific bike-ped coordinator.
There’s the wide-area road map to a more “bike friendly” Athens. We’ve improved the educational opportunities in town, but there are ways to improve the other Es. And that’s what we’ll be talking about it the weeks ahead! Remember, every Friday is Bike Friendly Friday!!