My (Truly-Final) Email to My Local City Hall

Good morning, Mayor, City Council, and fellow Dunwoody citizens. I left this comment on Councilor Heneghan’s blog this morning and wanted to share it with everyone, with the small but persistent hope that something I share about my rubber-hits-the-road lived and learned experience may someday make a difference — and perhaps even save a life.

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Hi, John. Thank you for providing this information. Children don’t wait. They grow up. Mine have. These are my final comments on this topic, in case they are helpful to others. 

I see city staff is still using antiquated terminology in your linked bikeway discussion PDF. Please retire all language that refers to people as having or not having confidence while riding a bike. No amount of education, experience or willingness to assume known risk on Dunwoody’s currently dangerous-by-design roads will protect a person against a driver who may be impaired, distracted, or intending harm. Studies show additional dangers to specific segments of the population (i.e. women are close-passed 3.8 times more frequently and harassed more often). I have yet to meet a woman or parent who lacks confidence. What they lack is safe places to ride bikes. 

Almost every single “bike lane” in this city does not meet standards for access-for-all. That is an indisputable fact. This must change immediately. I have asked continually for temporary pop-up protection — such as what construction sites, utility trucks, and potholes currently enjoy throughout the city — and the city has continually rejected it. I have not been alone in this request. The mayor-appointed and city-endorsed Sustainability Committee recently made the request for the Mother’s Day Weekend Art Festival (with their own funding and volunteers offered) and was rejected. 

Enough is enough. It is time to stop the media releases and ribbon-cuttings that glorify and misrepresent our city’s “bike-friendliness” or bike network. This is the media release that’s needed (and possible) right now, today. This is an actual (not greenwashed) User’s Guide to Riding a Bike in Dunwoody, GA, USA.


Trust the journey,
Pattie

* I am the first survivor of a driver charged with a Vulnerable Road User Ordinance violation (in addition to a hit-and-run charge, and safe passing violation) in the southeastern United States.  

Re: the city’s sidewalk-riding ordinance 

Additionally, city communications are urgently needed about the enhanced statewide 3-feet-to-pass law that went into effect July 1, 2021 as few, if any people operating motor vehicles seem to know it (our own state representative did not know it, and he is a personal injury lawyer). You are required to give 3 feet to pass AND to slow down to 10 miles below the posted speed limit for a maximum speed of 25 mph while passing a person riding a bike; you are required to change lanes to pass if there is another lane going in your same direction of travel and you are allowed to cross the yellow line if it is clear of oncoming traffic — note this required 3-feet-to-pass includes if there is paint-on-the-road masquerading as bike lanes as almost ALL of them in our city do not meet safe-access-for-all standards. 

If interested, see my final exec summary as the first Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor (representing 10 Metro Atlanta counties/70 cities) as part of a global consortium with the Amsterdam-based social enterprise BYCS.

Also, a final note about the economic impact of women on bicycles, and how your city is leaving so much money on the table if it is not accessible for all:

One more final note is needed, in response to common comments about these issues on places like NextDoor: If you say people on bikes should stick to side streets, you have never ridden them here. Our city is not built on a grid and side streets do not connect to actual places where people who are using bikes for transportation need to go. Additionally, they are extremely hilly and require either a high level of physical fitness or an expensive ebike. (Side streets in some other cities are places where gang or other illegal activity may occur and thereby do not represent safe routes.) Wooded paths (such as what is continually being suggested as routes to schools) are particularly isolated and dangerous for women and children and do not currently represent best practices for safe-access-for-all re: lighting, escape routes, call boxes and being open during all hours for commuting to work and school, especially for those on flexible or shift schedules and during early morning/early evening darkness. Consultants who are being hired by our city do not have this lived-and learned expertise. “Infrastructure” that is being installed is not being tested to meet basic safe-access-for-all principles.

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