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Atlanta’s record-breaking Biketober could speak to growing popularity of ‘pedal power’

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The miles logged during the annual bike challenge equate to 4,600 laps around the Perimeter, officials estimate

People riding bikes and walking and food trucks on a busy Atlanta street.
Atlanta Streets Alive on North Highland Avenue.
Curbed Atlanta

Metro Atlanta cyclists—some regulars, some novices—logged nearly 300,000 miles last month as part of a regional initiative urging folks to ditch their cars in exchange for a greener mode of transportation.

Georgia Commute Options, a mobility advocacy group managed by the Atlanta Regional Commission and funded by the Georgia Department of Transportation, last month hosted its sixth annual bike challenge, a program that rewards people for leaving their cars at home.

Participants scored prizes such as cycling gear, restaurant vouchers, and even bikes during the “Biketober” contest, which this year drew its highest participation rate since its inception.

Nearly 4,500 registrants took part—a spike from 2018’s 2,500-strong headcount—in October.

According to Georgia Commute Options’s tabulations, the 297,500 miles of “pedal power” logged last month equates to roughly 4,600 laps around the Interstate 285 Perimeter.

Those miles were clocked on more 35,000 trips in October, and they represent a 15 percent increase in mileage from last year, as well as a 16 percent increase in trips.

If each of those miles had replaced a mile behind the wheel of a car—unfortunately, that’s certainly not the case—Georgia Commute Options’s 2019 challenge would have replaced more than 70,000 pounds of CO2 pollution, officials estimate.

“According to the Environmental Protection Agency,” project leaders wrote, in an announcement, “that’s the equivalent to avoiding the consumption of 3,573 gallons of gas and is equal to the amount of CO2 absorbed by 37.4 acres of U.S. forests in one year.”

Food for thought.