photo of Bill Black knocking off more blocks towards his goal of riding the entire city
Meet Bill Black. He is a six-year member of our Biketober team, Trust the Journey (currently in third place of all teams in Metro Atlanta!) in the Atlanta Bike Challenge, and the person to whom I gave my “encourager” points because I knew he’d be the first to enthusiastically sign up.
He is a professor of accounting at a nearby college, and spends time many days logging miles on his bike for fun and fitness. Currently, he’s using an app which consolidates all your routes to show you the percentage of coverage you’ve achieved in any given city.
Bill told me there are 193.5 miles of bikeable roads in Dunwoody, Georgia according to Wandrer.com, and he has covered 177.6 of them, or 91.8%*. The majority of those remaining are gated communities, and a few cul de sacs. I joined him yesterday on a mile or two. It was fun. (A few years ago during Biketober, I had ridden with him and another also-current teammember named Turner on the Wild Horse Trail spur of the Silver Comet.)
I viewed my camera captures when I got home, however, and I can’t stop watching this little video. It’s when Bill and I met up at the entrance to my city’s biggest park, directly across the street from the church where the food pantry is and very close to both a senior living home and the middle school. I asked him how it was going.
Bill’s words are hard to hear in the video because of the motor vehicles zipping past behind him so you need to either turn up your volume or see the post on TikTok (which has captions). The road he is on (like many where we live) has too-narrow unprotected bike lanes. Here is what he said:
I was harassed on that street last week (third time by youth since the teen in Texas hit six people on bikes a couple of weeks ago) when I “took the lane” when I was surrounded by school buses that would not have room to pass me safely if I stayed in the dangerous bike lane. (I stopped and asked the middle school boys, who were walking, why they said what they did and they gave me a very fast apology.)
I was almost killed a year ago nearby when I survived a hit-and-run while riding my bike home after filming a video per a city councilor’s request for a safe-driver ticket-diversion course. I’ve asked, and asked, and asked for immediate pop-up protection on these dangerous-by-design streets. I would like to see this media release. Instead, I get no’s or the cone of silence.
I’ve come to the conclusion that there can only be three possibilities regarding city leaders’ failure to act promptly:
- They have never ridden in these dangerous “bike lanes” (this is likely as I typically see zero other people on bikes in my almost daily 5-20 mile rides around this suburb-city) because 5 minutes in them would make any person with any ability to create change do so;
- They have never ridden in bike lanes that meet NACTO guidelines so they don’t know that you usually feel more relaxed, not hyper-vigilant, when you are in correctly-designed bike infrastructure (this is likely as well as I never see them in any of the outstanding nationally-acclaimed examples in Metro Atlanta, some of which are featured in my self-guided tours);
- They HAVE ridden in either these bad bike lanes or good ones and have decided that you are simply not worth anything better.
I think you are worth it.
I think Bill is worth it.
And maybe Bill’s words will help encourage our city to finally become safer for people on bikes. Even serious cyclists like Bill.
*Bill is having more trouble covering the neighboring city (Sandy Springs), which is where he actually lives (and which, together with Dunwoody, hosts the largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the southeastern USA), due to a larger city footprint and even more widespread dangers.
As Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor, a League Cycling Instructor, a PeopleForBikes Ambassador, and the author of Traveling at the Speed of Bike (book and blog), I shine a light on people making it more welcoming to ride bikes and access public space close to home and around the world. Meet some below! If you’d like to put stories to work for your company, municipality, or organization, see here.
Meet Greg Masterson (Metro Atlanta Cycling Club)
Meet Marjon Manitius (Brookhaven Bike Alliance)
Meet Byron Rushing (Atlanta Regional Commission)
Meet Creighton Bryan (Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy)
Meet Betsy Eggers and Jack Honderd (Peachtree Creek Trail and Brookhaven Bike Aliance)
Jon’s Leap of Faith (Street Minister and Bike Saver Extraordinaire)
A Second(er) or Two about Why You’re Needed (City of Dunwoody)
Meet Matt (Painter of New Cycle Track by Mercedes Benz Stadium)
Meet Dr. Walter May (Reinhardt University)
Meet Alex Gee (World Bicycle Relief)
Meet Shawn Deangelo Walton (Everybody Eats ATL and WeCycle)
Meet Charlton Bivins (Clayton County Cycling Club)
Meet Emmett McNair (tour guide extraordinaire)
Meet Mike Flueckiger (Primary Mechanic at Global Spokes)
Thank You, Courtney (NYC’s Peoples’ Bike Mayor)
Meet Carden Wycoff (Wheelchair Warrior at 6 MPH)
Meet Jillian Banfield (Bicycle Mayor of Halifax, Canada)
Meet Arcy Canumay (Bicycle Mayor of Waterloo, Canada)
Meet Shelley Carr (Bicycle Mayor of London, Canada)
Meet Susan Stokhof (Bicycle Mayor of Victoria, Canada)
Meet Daniel Eppstein (Director of Operations at BYCS)
Meet Charise Stephens (Founder of the U Create Macon youth bike program)
Meet Andrea Learned (climate influence consultant)
Meet 31 Women Making the USA More Welcoming for Riding Bikes (the “You Go Girl!’ Series)
Meet 11 Bike Tour Guides (from the Bicycle Tours of Atlanta Team)