Hot mess

The conversation about the 2nd Read of the Vulnerable Road User ordinance (the vote on which was deferred) was such a hot mess this week at Dunwoody City Hall (I was in L.A. but got to see the video last night) that I am no longer in support of it at this time. It is clear to me that more foundational work needs to happen first. (Please note that this city adopted a Bicycle Action Plan almost ten years ago in November, 2009. Here is its vision, much of which has not yet happened.) Here is my email to City Hall last night:

Hi, all. I viewed the video from last night. It is abundantly clear that there is collective confusion at city hall about existing state law. The conversation was very muddy, and, in fact, deeply concerning to me as a citizen, a person who drives, and a person who rides a bike in this city. The purpose of a Vulnerable Road User ordinance is not to create additional rules. It is to close state law loopholes about compliance with the existing 3-feet-passing law and to provide prosecutorial sentencing options specifically in the case of severe injury or death of someone not in a motor vehicle in our shared public space. Your confusion about this leads me to believe our city is moving too fast on this, and that smaller steps that lay a stronger foundation are needed first.

My recommendation is to get back to basics by officially pursuing Bicycle Friendly Community certification from the League of American Bicyclists (as Roswell, Alpharetta, and Decatur have done). Just like the ARC Green Communities certification, it provides a common framework and direction for achievement. It focuses on what’s called the five E’s. One of the E’s is Education, and it is clear the community could use learning about existing state law. Another E is Enforcement, and our police department can and should ticket state law crosswalk, close-passing, and other offenses right now today (no waiting period — it is already state law). A third E is Engineering, and fast-tracking our plans — including with pop-up, temporary pilot examples of what’s possible —  can and will make a difference.
I would suggest we allow another metro-Atlanta city to take the lead on the VRU, with the excellent work City Councilor Tom Lambert and Chief Grogan did as a kickstart for them, and revisit it after we have covered the basics (with the hope that the need for a ghost bike memorial doesn’t happen first).
I have also shared with Tom and John a concerning contradiction I have uncovered about the city’s current position re: sidewalk riding. There are pros and cons to whatever is ultimately codified, and I am happy to share more about that if anyone is interested.

Trust the journey, 

I heard back from Councilor Lambert. He is not giving up. I hope to meet with him for coffee to hear where his head is at, and to share my concerns about clarity and purpose of this ordinance in light of what I heard on the City Hall video.
FYI, above is the video and here is the email I sent to City Hall last week about the VRU ordinance. I got a reply from one person, City Councilor Pam Tallmadge. She is the city leader who stood with me on Tilly Mill Road (the road that’s shown above in a 4-second video of a close-passing violation that could have easily ended in my death) a couple of years ago as cars whizzed by and told me she was scared to ride a bike in the city she helps govern. Pam wasn’t present at the City Council meeting this week, so maybe she would have changed the conversation. Maybe Councilor Lambert is right and he can still pull this off somehow. I respect his passion and commitment, but I do think some good insight was raised at the meeting that showed serious misunderstanding, and I am respectful of that as well.
HANG TIGHT: I’m gonna add what I found about the sidewalk discrepancy, with actual police department Facebook posts, soon so I can close out my involvement with this.