These photos are from Dunwoody, Georgia, USA. See page 136* of my book
No. No more compromises that kill. No more too-narrow unprotected bike lanes that don’t meet NACTO guidelines. No more door zones. No more Pointy the Bike Lanes. No more ableist justification for “better than nothing.” No more ignoring requests — pleas — for immediate pop-up tactical urbanism to mitigate the dangers your contractors, consultants, and staff members have talked city leaders into (even the ones who know better). None of these conditions are acceptable.
Cities (such as mine) must stop greenwashing how “friendly” their communities are for riding bikes, and start providing true safe-access-for-all. Right now, today. I could have finished doing this in thirty minutes, alone. I offered to lead this. I asked, and asked, and asked. I was told no, no, no (or dead silence). Over and over again.
After Biketober, I will be done with any bike-related pro bono work here in the USA. Starting November 1, I will be focusing the second year of my term as Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor solely on global stories and people. My availability locally and nationally, unpaid, has ended. You are needed**.
I still believe in my city’s potential. And mine — elsewhere.
*See my book for so much more about Traveling at the Speed of Bike close to home and around the USA. It’s a memoir. It’s a movement. 100% of proceeds are used to help more women and girls ride bikes.
**I tried. I started the Sustainability Commission and we passed the Complete Streets Policy. I served on the Comprehensive Land Use Plan steering committee and we included many details about bike-friendliness, walkability, and usable greenspace. I rode and met with so many leaders and consultants I can’t even count.
My children and I rode to three different schools day after day when hardly anyone else did (where they were made to wait at the end of the day until every carpool and bus left), and to a community center one mile from our home where I had to make alternative arrangements for my daughters to leave camp there because riding a bike was a “special circumstance.”
I’ve documented the economic impact of one little bike rack on a business and our city’s tax rolls. I’ve taken my life in my hands, and I’ve documented and shared what it was like to be called an asshole on social media by one of your own because I was riding legally and safely in the only way possible on the only road to my neighborhood (see the Epilogue in my book). I’ve even hauled my butt out there and taken photos of sneckdowns on the one day a year it snows here to show, clear as day, what is possible. In short, I’ve done everything I can. But it hasn’t been enough.
Your city is still missing the point about designing a residential, business, education, and leisure environment with safe access for all, with divided support for this simple principle. Your newborn will see no change unless you (or people you encourage) get involved. The plan right now does not account for your child (see photo of Pointy the Bike Lane above — the city thinks that’s just fine). There is no plan for a safe, cohesive, connected network. There is no Dunwoody Woodline in the next twenty years. Note: Kids don’t wait — they grow up. My children were 8 and 13 years old when they came with me to Dunwoody City Hall and promises were made about safe access for all. They are now 21 and 26. There is still no safe access to buy a loaf of bread.
If you want to create a safer and more livable city for all, you are needed. Consider running for office. Get involved in bike/ped advocacy groups. Don’t be afraid to continually strive to make things better. And know that you are not alone.
(If you don’t live in my city, I assure you that you are needed in yours as well.)
Note: I know you are ridiculously busy. I was, too. When I started the Sustainability Commission, I said I could not go to meetings at night due to family commitments, that the only way I could go is if they were at 7:30 AM, after I got my daughters to school and I had to leave at 9 AM sharp to go to work. I served as chair of that commission for a year (until the mayor and two city councilors laughed in the faces of a roomful of children, and I decided to spend my nonrenewable resource of time helping communities-in-need start gardens instead), and it is now eleven years later. The meetings are still at 7:30 AM. The point: you can create your own reality, as I did. Don’t decide you can’t be involved because the norm of evening meetings (or meetings at all) doesn’t fit your schedule. Anything is possible.