The Width of a Prius

So I discovered something interesting yesterday. I cut a pool noodle to four feet in length, since that’s the minimum width that a bike “facility” (i.e paint on the road, or something actually protective) must be on a road that has a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour (or more) in order to be counted on the Bicycle Friendly Community application by the League of American Bicyclists (as confirmed with my interview of the director of the program, Amelia Neptune). (Note: additional protection to meet the required NACTO and AASHTO standards is based on speed and volume of motor vehicle traffic, although lower volumes during COVID-19 has resulted in higher speeds so these standards may need adjusting).

I put this noodle* down for a moment on the back of my 2009 Prius, and whoa, guess what? It is the exact same width as the back of my car!! Which means, of course, that if my car does not fit in a bike lane on a 35-mph+ road in any community in the USA, that bike lane does not qualify to be counted on the application. It’s actually that simple.

As I’ve been sharing recently, in preparation to comment on the pending applications for two Metro Atlanta cities (Dunwoody and Peachtree Corners), I reviewed all the report cards and read the full applications of the six cities in Metro Atlanta that are designated as Bicycle Friendly Communities (all currently at the Bronze level, although significant improvements have happened specifically in the City of Decatur and City of Atlanta). Regarding claims about bike facilities on 35+ mph roads:

City of Alpharetta: 21% meet or exceed the 4-foot standard

City of Atlanta: 0% meet or exceed the 4-foot standard

City of Carrollton: 0% meet or exceed the 4-foot standard

City of Decatur: 0% meet or exceed the 4-foot standard

City of Peachtree City: 8% meet or exceed the 4-foot standard

City of Roswell: 6% meet or exceed the 4-foot standard

So, Alpharetta obviously jumps out here. My mother lives in Alpharetta, and I go there often. I am having trouble, however, picturing where the 21% of all high-speed roads that meet this minimum standard are located in the City of Alpharetta. Perhaps there are roads I’ve been missing, where an 84-year-old woman on an adult tricycle would be comfortable riding. Perhaps this is exciting news. I will ask Office Clay where they are located, and I will pack my noodle in my car and head on out there to ride and photograph them for you. The City of Alpharetta actually has three adult tricycles that they invite the public to use. Perhaps Officer Clay would even do a ride on these safe high-speed roads with me and three seniors.

Comparatively, I will also request the location for the road or roads that are claimed in the City of Roswell as meeting this standard so I can photograph them for you as well. (I also hope to make it to Peachtree City to do “the noodle test” on its 8% of high-speed roads during the month that I focus specifically on Fayette County, according to this schedule.)

I will also ask both the City of Dunwoody and the City of Peachtree Corners if they can share their applications with me, or at least their answers regarding high speeds roads and qualifying bike facilities.

This is part of the joy of doing deep dives in bikey things happening around Metro Atlanta to discover what hidden jewels and untold positive stories may be right here in front of us that we don’t see.

Who knows? Maybe I will be able to add some wonderful new routes to my current routines, and be able to create some accessible new Ride Spot tours for you.

Stay tuned!

(Truth? I don’t want to go around with that stupid noodle any more than I wanted to go around with that stupid BikeNoodle. See Chapter 6: Noodle Lady in my book for more about that, if interested.)

* not to be confused with BikeNoodle, which I road-tested for 4 years, during which time it was almost 100% effective in eliminating illegal passing and harassment by motor vehicle drivers. It is 3-feet in length, sticks out 2 feet 6 inches when bungee-corded onto a bike’s back rack, and serves as a traveling reminder about the statewide 3-feet-to-pass law. Note: nothing will protect you when faced with a distracted or impaired driver or a driver who intends to harm you. (FYI, my hit-and-run assailant’s arraignment has been rescheduled for December 2. Stay tuned for updates on that as well.)

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