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Official: Let's Take Training Wheels Off Cycle-Friendly Funding

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With a number of bike-friendly projects either under way or in the offing, Atlanta is clearly embracing the urban cycling movement. But ask the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, and better isn't good enough — not if we want to ride with the big boys. In a Monday guest column with Saporta Report, the coalition's executive director Rebecca Serna suggests the city of Atlanta use 15 percent of a proposed $250-million infrastructure bond for bike-related projects. Arguing that the 12 "complete streets" projects already included in the list aren't enough, she called bikeways "one of the best investments in our city's future." For $10 million, Serna wrote, "we could build out a fantastic 30-plus mile bikeway network in the core of the city (based on the Cycle Atlanta plan), including a bike path along Lee Street connecting the West End to Downtown and Georgia State. It would also include protected bike lanes on streets like Piedmont, and bike lanes connecting Midtown and Downtown with new intown developments like Ponce City Market and the Westside."

Initiatives like the Green Lane Project, the Beltline and a possible bike-share program point to a more rideable future for Atlanta. And the demand for biking options is clearly on the rise: Census data compiled earlier this summer showed a sharp spike in bicycle commuting between 1990 and 2012; the Beltline is ridiculously popular, and other trail projects like PATH400 promise to be as well; the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition's own "Streets Alive" events have exploded. All that said, Serna points out that recent additions bring the city to only about 60 miles of on-street bike lanes and 69 miles of trails.

That wasn't good enough for the traffic-choked ATL to make Bicycling Magazine's list of top 50 bike-friendly cities. In fact, Atlanta's competitors around the Southeast put us to shame. Places like Austin (1,100 miles), Dallas (1,300), Charlotte (783) and Memphis (575) are planning for hundreds of more miles of bike ways. "These cities aren't investing in bike lanes so weekend warriors in spandex can zip around town," Serna wrote. "They're doing so because it makes good business sense."

Whether you agree or disagree with Serna's proposal, you might want to stop by the seventh floor of the Shepherd Center at 6 p.m. tonight — they'll be holding a public hearing on the infrastructure bond in question.

— By Curbed Atlanta contributor Tyler Estep

[ABOVE photo: Curbed Atlanta]

· Investing 15 percent of bond package on bikeway a good way to make Atlanta a top 10 city for cycling [Saporta]
· PATH to Greatness: Connecting the City With Cycling Tracks [Curbed]
· Census Suggests Biking Increase In Atlanta Since 1990 [Curbed]