Wait for the red car

Wait for the red car in the video above. I am using #BikeNoodle (which sticks out two-and-a-half feet/about .8 meters from my back bike rack and which the driver did not hit) so that’s actually a legal distance away (unless the three-feet/one meter legal-passage measurement is from the handlebars, which, now that I think about it, is probably the case). This is a good example of why NACTO recommends protected or separated lanes/paths on roads with speeds like this. Please note that anyone from about the seventh grade and up must ride as I am riding (not on the sidewalk*).

This is typical on this road, which I try to avoid, but why should I have to? It goes to the park, community center, several places of worship, numerous schools, and a senior home, plus connects me to roads that go where I want to go as #OneLessCar. (We are not built on a grid so there is no route that avoids main roads, plus side roads are circuitous and VERY hilly.) Citizens must demand that the vague “multimodal facility” mentioned in the 2017 comp transportation plan for this road (but not yet built) meet recommendations from NACTO.

I ride in this suburb-city as little as possible now, with one partly “through-the-Alps” route I take to the park once a week or so, and I will not take any students of mine onto City of Dunwoody roads in their current condition. (A bridge being added this week over this creek means I’ll be able to get to one of favorite coffee shops now, but my total route is not for the faint of heart.) I renewed my biz license today at City Hall and I feel like a fraud if I don’t do that via bike each year (plus I know children in the backs of minivans are watching, and I try to “be the change” I want to see), and this was on my way home.

Reaction to this video on Facebook indicates that there is agreement this is an unsafe pass due to the proximity of the car to the bike in partnership with the speed at which this driver is traveling. The choices going forward on this road re: safe access for all** include (1) reduced (and enforced) speed limit, (2) street design to reduce speed limit, (3) separated bike/multiuse path, (4) barrier-protected bike lane. An earlier plan indicated adding sharrows on this road but, as we know, sharrows do not provide any additional rights to the use of our public space known as streets that bike riders don’t already have, nor protection as vulnerable road users. They are to be used only as wayfinding or to connect bike infrastructure such as across an intersection, so I am happy that my city has moved off of sharrow-minded thinking here. (See 2 Effective Uses for Sharrows.)

Above is another snippet from that same road yesterday. Most drivers give me an average of six feet to pass when I am using BikeNoodle (my foot used to be “buzzed” by a car at least once a week beforehand, usually on this road). BikeNoodle has also virtually eliminated the honking and other harassment I used to experience every single time I rode a bike in this suburb-city when I would “take the lane” (as is legal and recommended) on roads too narrow for a motor vehicle to pass safely. With BikeNoodle, I can ride to the right while still controlling a good portion of the lane. This comes in handy in lots of situations, such as, shown below, when the bike lane ends but I don’t.

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fullsizeoutput_1f17Also, here is the sticker on BikeNoodle, and maybe that helps. You can get yours here. (I just ordered another one, in fact.) If I were a city leader, I would be mortified if someone in my city was using this thing because it’s the only way to get places on bike.

If interested in more about riding a bike in our suburb-cities, see my book, Traveling at the Speed of Bike (in particular, Chapter 3: Pedaling as Fast as I Can; Chapter 6: Noodle Lady; and the Epilogue, which includes a story that is still one of the most upsetting things I’ve experienced in twenty four years of living here). I hate using it, but it’s impact is undeniable. (I only use BikeNoodle in the suburbs; I ride in the City of Atlanta without it about four times every week.) Here’s a little video that shows you what it looks like when I put my body camera on the back of my bike.

All footage in the video above is from this past October on the day I early-voted at the library. Three city councilor positions and the mayor’s position are up for grabs this November. We have no more time to waste in the gutter of failed imagination. As a woman, a mom, and now a senior, I am the ” indicator species” of  whether or not your city is safe for people of all ages to ride bikes (and other micro-mobility devices such as electric wheelchairs, scooters, and e-bikes). Elected city officials and members of city staffs: Please note that women make or influence 80% of all consumer spending decisions, and bike riders shop locally more, and more often, than those in motor vehicles (which returns a greater percentage of dollars to the local economy). It behooves cities to start responding to women’s documented expectations for safer access on bikes where they live. What’s more, more women are needed at the table so that less “lipstick on a pig” bike infrastructure (too-narrow bike lanes, unprotected bike lanes, inadequate lighting, and let’s not forget Pointy the Bike Lane) continue to litter our cities.

Today I say “wait for the red car” when you are viewing the video at the top of this post. And then stop waiting for change where you live. Next year or in twenty years is simply too late.

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P.S. If interested, please also see This City Fully Admits It’s “Nearly Impossible” and  A Call to Action to City Leaders

* This sidewalk, by the way, is very busy with pedestrian traffic on Saturdays (the day you may want to go to the park most) because an orthodox temple is located right on it and whole families walk to and from services. If you are tempted to say, “I know it’s illegal but everyone does it and you won’t be ticketed,” your privilege is showing. A man on a bike on the sidewalk was already pulled over by the local police in this city. He was African American. Plus, if you were to be in a crash, you would be at fault for riding illegally.

** Unless, of course, there’s still this elephant in the room

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