Relief. I’m done. Last night was it. My truly final moment at my local city hall. It was the night of the Trails Master Plan presentation by the PATH Foundation in partnership with the city. I almost didn’t go but I told my husband that I just wanted to be sure it was in the historical record that I was there, that it wasn’t only the “no way, no how” folks who oppose everything. It was also a 59-year-old mother of two who rides her bike as her primary transportation 10-15 miles every single day in and beyond this city (here is my free User’s Guide to Riding a Bike for Transportation in Dunwoody, GA, USA and Beyond).
I had (shockingly) run into another person on a bike earlier in the day. And this happened:
So I was feeling up-tempo. Hopeful. And then on my way to city hall, the only other person who rides bikes to these events — my neighbor, Jason (who was featured in an old newsletter of mine for a different reason) — caught up with me pretty early on the route and we rode together. We were two people on bikes whipping past motor vehicles during Rush Hour (which is the only time those too-narrow unprotected bike lanes have any value because the motor vehicle drivers are bumper to bumper).
I stayed about an hour. I saw the mayor; the parks director; the communications director; the community development director; and both my city councilors, Rob Price and Joe Seconder. Here is a TikTok of mine incorporating Councilor Seconder’s excellent trails video prior to the previous trails meeting in early December. As you can see, lots of good is already happening:
The Trails Master Plan will connect the dots, bypass the hell known as GDOT and its short-sighted motor-vehicle-expansion of the deadliest highway in the USA, and fix prior compromises-that-kill leading to schools, parks, shops, places of worship, corporations, and yes, city hall. You can view the plan here. Scroll through to the before-and-after depictions. It’s worth it.
So, last night, I stood in the back. I tried to help a young couple and their child stay when the child started fussing. I told them it was okay. That they are welcome and needed. I followed them outside and played with the child with the duck from my upcoming cross-country trip (you may enjoy RoundAmericaWithADuck.com) for a moment until he smiled, until they left maybe feeling a little bit good. Like they belonged, even though participating in this meeting in person was hard for them this night (a Facebook Live option was also offered, which is good to know for young families for the future, but showing up in person does make a different impact).
And then I left, BikeNoodle in hand, when the public comments quickly (as in, within four minutes) dissolved into the usual disgusting insinuations about MARTA and crime (rather than the honest recognition that almost every crime in our city is happening by people in motor vehicles, many of whom live right here in this city, documented in the daily police blotter). I also had a date with my hubby, which is higher in priority to me than listening to predictable arguments that start “When I bought my home in the 1970s, I expected complete and total isolation, with nothing but speeding cars as my front yard view, and no one deserves anything better than that.”
You know what I did in the 1970s? I rode my bike as a child alone to get places safely and easily. If you’d like to tickle your 1970s bike-riding memories alive again, you will love the first chapter of my book, Traveling at the Speed of Bike, available globally. If you want some more stories about riding a bike in this city, don’t miss Chapters 3, 6 and the Epilogue. I hope to ride bikes with grandchildren someday.
As I unlocked my bike at city hall’s bike rack, currently blocked by a bench and punctuated by a cigarette disposal because it doubles as the smoking section (but gosh darn they got credit for that bike rack in the Atlanta Regional Commission Green Communities certification application), I knew in my heart and soul that this was my final moment here.
It was a beautiful night for my ride home (on the sidewalk, in the only city in the State of Georgia where it is legal to do for all ages due to known and continual dangerous-by-design road conditions, with priority to those walking and using wheelchairs — please see my post about our 65 miles of overnight de facto multiuse trails). I told my husband I wish I could wave my hand and those promised trails would all appear because the nights are lovely and I’d love to go more places more often (see this post about the economic impact of women on bikes). Yet, riding on the road in the dark with my little lights and tingle dingle bell would be a death wish, and even riding on the uneven, impediment-filled sidewalk is not something I would recommend at night.
Unless folks start stepping up in a real way to create quick-build temporary solutions (construction folks, utility companies, and Public Works’ efforts to mark potholes seem to be able to do this every single day), your children, like mine, will never set a foot or pedal on them. You may enjoy my blog post titled Cone of Silence. Not a reader? I got you covered. Here’s a TikTok:
Children don’t wait — they grow up. And those of us who are aging (as in, all of us) may already realize that every day we don’t move our bodies gets us closer to the day we no longer can.
I see this morning that there is an online survey about the trails plan. And so these are my final comments*. Good luck, Dunwoody. I look forward to reading about your adoption of the Master Plan in May (National Bike Month) this year.
You get what you deserve. What do you think you deserve this time?
Maybe it’s finally time for our citizens, business owners, and visitors to deserve nice things that actually work to make a positive difference in a world in crisis (and increase your property value, if that’s all you care about). What a feeling that would be.
Take some free virtual bike tours all over Metro Atlanta right from the comfort of your couch and see some of the outstanding things that are happening all around us.
*My survey comments:
What is your overall opinion of the Dunwoody Trails Master Plan?
This is stunning. Thank you, finally, for public recognition that the too-narrow unprotected paint-on-the-road currently referred to as bike lanes in our city do not meet safe-access-for-all standards and for proposing best-in-class contextually-appropriate solutions. Greta de Mayo, the Executive Director of the PATH Foundation did a truly wonderful job in an historically hostile-to-new-ideas crowd (and sure enough, that MARTA comment was disgustingly stated within 4 minutes after the floor was opened for public questions, at which point I left via my bike. I ride my bike all over Metro Atlanta and experience the life-saving work PATH does in so many cities. I share free virtual bike tours that show some of your work. See https://travelingatthespeedofbike.com/routes/. Number 7 is Decatur, which I’ve encouraged our city leaders to view.
Where do you see additional connections needed?
Tilly Mill’s unprotected “bike lanes” don’t meet safe-access-for-all standards. Perhaps raising them can be done here, and/or a barrier can be added. You can see my aspirational media release here: https://travelingatthespeedofbike.com/2021/06/26/city-of-dunwoody-announces-1st-pop-up-protected-bike-lane-otp-in-metro-atlanta/. Additionally, sharrows should only be used as wayfinding and brief connections such as across intersections (like by the PATH Parkway near GA Tech). Used generally, sharrows imply a safety that does not exist and make it seem as if people on bikes aren’t allowed on roads and streets that don’t have them. If a person on a bike needs to rely on actions of a person driving a motor vehicle for safety, the street is not safe for LIT users. Please propose ONLY engineering solutions that undeniably slow motor vehicles such as Clarkston’s bioswales, raised crosswalks (not rough like Clarkson’s, which are unsafe for people with disabilities to use), and more. Thank you!
What section of the proposed trail network do you want to see happen first? And why?
Honestly, my jaw dropped at your visual of Womack. It’s beautiful, and Womack Road could connect our community across land uses in so many ways — business districts, schools, places of worship, residential, and more. I think it might be an almost-mindblowingly-easy thing to do for a truly outstanding impact that would deliver pride, not divide. I also love how much you mentioned e-bikes — a wonderful recognition of our heat, hills and basic statistically-documented unfit-populace (across the USA), and astounding increase in disabilities across all ages. It also recognizes the booming e-cargo movement for both personal use and logistics solutions for businesses. I believe the environmental, economic and social impacts of your Womack Road cycletracks will be a national model of what’s possible creating truly forward-thinking family-friendly suburb-cities in America today and for years to come. If interested, see https://travelingatthespeedofbike.com/2023/02/09/happy-trails/