a Second(er) or Two about Why You’re Needed

So I’ve been providing a little bit of input to the development of a course for people driving motor vehicles who encounter people on bikes in the Metro Atlanta city of Dunwoody, Georgia. The course is intended specifically for city employees. It may also be used as a ticket diversion tool for those charged with Vulnerable Road User ordinance offenses.

My city councilor, Joe Seconder, is creating it with the help of a small handful of other people, including Paige Metzger, one of the featured women in my “You Go, Girl!” series, as well as Elliott Caldwell and John Bennett, the executive director and the head of education for our state advocacy group, Georgia Bikes, which is considering using it statewide. (Photo above is from the “When You Voted for Bikes, You Spoke for Me” campaign I created in 2013, with the participation of many people, for Bike Walk Dunwoody, the local advocacy group which Joe started and led since 2009. You can see the other 13 ads below, several of which were then adapted for use by Georgia Bikes at the Georgia State Capitol during the Georgia Rides to the Capitol annual advocacy day.)

Let’s take a Second(er) or two to state that Joe is doing what he set out to do when I and others endorsed him for city council. But Joe needs help. He needs your help. Please consider getting involved in local advocacy work here in the City of Dunwoody or wherever you may live in Metro Atlanta and beyond. You are needed*.

Your local work may lead to a stone-in-the-pond ripple effect far beyond your city’s borders.

So for Joe’s current project, I’ve shared lots of photos, videos, and more to the team working on this. It appears from the latest draft that my contribution may be three things:

  1. Changing the language from motor vehicle drivers and bike riders/cyclists to “people-first” language. i.e.: People driving motor vehicles and people riding bikes.
  2. Providing the video of when I survived the hit-and run while Traveling at the Speed of Bike in July. (Fun fact: I was coming home from recording a short video for this very course.)
  3. Adding the following four questions to the multiple choice exam (since, from rubber-hits-the-road experience, I’m not sure people driving motor vehicles actually know these are laws):

The types of people on bikes that are allowed to “take the lane” are:

  • Only “cyclists” on road bikes
  • Any adult on any type of bike riding quickly
  • Any adult or child on any type of bike, riding at whatever pace is comfortable for them when they, in their sole judgment, determine conditions require this maneuver

You are not allowed to do the following when you are driving behind, next to, past, or at a light or other stop beside a person riding a bike:

  • Say words that can be considered harassment
  • Throw items
  • Spit
  • Honk your horn as harassment
  • Rev your motor aggressively and drive less than three feet from the bike riders back wheel
  • All of the above

If you hit a bike rider with your motor vehicle, you:

  • Do not need to stop for any reason
  • Do not need to stop if they appear to be ok
  • Do need to stop but just to tell them everything you believe they were doing wrong
  • Do need to stop to check on them and provide your insurance information, if requested; assist them if they need it; and wait for the police if they choose to notify them. 

Riding a bike on the sidewalk is legal for people of all ages in the City of Dunwoody. When you are driving, you :

  • Do not need to look for people riding bikes on sidewalks. It is their job to look for you
  • Do need to look for people riding bikes on sidewalks, but only when turning into a driveway or parking lot and at intersections
  • Do need to look for people riding bikes on sidewalks when turning into driveways or parking lots, at intersections, and at all other times as they may be blocked (especially children) by bushes, the size of your vehicle, or other obstacles and you may not realize they are there until it is too late  

So, that’s that. I do what I can. I hope every little bit helps.

For more on bike laws, see the excellent BikeLaw.com website. If you need a lawyer specializing in crashes that involve people on bikes (as I did), click on the U.S. map at that link for the designated lawyers in your state. Here’s who to call and what to do in the State of Georgia. (Georgia Bikelaw Attorney Bruce Hagen is featured in the driver education course.)

By the way, Joe’s wife, Kathleen Seconder, was also featured in the “When You Voted for Bikes, You Spoke for Me” campaign (pictured below).

I caught up with both Joe and Kathleen early in the pandemic. Here’s what Kathleen told me then. Take a Second(er) or two, and give this couple’s words — and actions — a thought.

* What’s needed even more is a paid local Chief Bicycle Officer. These are jobs that deliver environmental, social, and economic benefits to a community. Here is what I would have done as that. Here’s what I would have done for the City of Atlanta. I was not called to serve in that way, but perhaps I planted some seeds of ideas. (You know how I like to plant.)

If you are interested in applying to become an eight-hour-a-week pro bono Bicycle Mayor in the city or region where you live, I’d be happy to share my experience as Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor so far (as I did last night with a woman in Colorado who contacted me about applying).

Click here for fun, functional, and even free gifts. All proceeds help more women and girls ride bikes (like Diana, and the girls in the most diverse square mile in the USA with whom I just finished a seven-week course).