I know, I know. I sound like a broken record on these topics but I get a chance to sit and think about these things while Traveling at the Speed of Bike (and rollerskating). Plus, I like to post my city council emails here for the record, in case they are helpful to you no matter where you live. So, here goes. Yet another.
Good morning Mayor and Council:
I see lots of negative comments about the construction company doing the Georgetown Gateway. I am sorry people are having that experience while driving their cars. As you know, I use my bike for almost all my local transportation (and beyond, combined with buses and trains). I have had nothing but positive interactions with the crews there. They, in fact, have alerted me and kindly helped me navigate on days when tar is fresh so as to avoid getting tar on my tires and feet (which was their concern, which was sweet). They are always friendly, respectful and kind to me. I just want to be sure that there is a positive comment in their support. There is no way I’m adding my comment to the feeding frenzies of online forums.
More observations, and my offer to you:
1. People with Disabilities FYI, there is only one little bike rack in the Georgetown shopping area (by Kroger, often blocked). I continue to look forward to the day when bike racks are a routine part of public street furniture, as they are in many other cities. When I meet my hubby for our weekly Goldy’s lunch (followed by bocce at the nearby park), I lock up to the handicapped sign (in a specific way that does not block anyone) in front of Goldberg’s. I have noticed that the handicapped spots as well as the route from the spots to the businesses flood frequently and it is harrowing to watch people with disabilities navigate safely. In fact, I expect you would be appalled. Councilor Heneghan would write a blog post. There would be a flurry of immediate action. And yet, no. There are numerous other impediments I notice for people with disabilities in our city, things that are immediately obvious if you ride a bike or walk for just ten minutes in any direction. Make that five minutes. It’s that clear. There is a reason I almost never see people using wheelchairs in public space in the City of Dunwoody (which, by the way, are legally allowed in bike lanes, which is another reason that bike lanes need to meet actual standards for safe access for all, which ours do not).
2. School Traffic Another brouhaha I see online is the parking saga at Dunwoody High School. Regarding riding bikes to school (which less than 1% of students do in Dunwoody across all school grades), I strongly recommend (yet again) you visit Decatur. It is a point of pride, not divide there and you can literally feel this as drivers slow down and stop before you even get to an intersection. It throws me off every time. Take a look (or actually ride a bike) on the infrastructure that leads to the schools. I used to drive* my younger daughter to DeKalb School of the Arts in Avondale Estates and would pass through Decatur at commute-to-school time and there was hardly any additional traffic. I did not have to allot extra time for school-commute traffic.
There were, however, packs of kids of all ages walking and riding bikes to school without parents. It was a pretty mind-blowing scene. The 4/5 Academy has at least half a dozen bike racks, often filled. The high school has several, also filled (although, to be fair, they did also pave over a gorgeous, robust school/community garden to create a parking lot). The high school also has a bike fix-it stand, provided by the Hagan Rosskoff Law Firm across the street, which is the designated BikeLaw firm in Atlanta (which represented me when I survived the hit and run while riding legally on Tilly Mill Road after filming a video for the City of Dunwoody’s safe driving around cyclists class, per the request of Councilor Seconder). Friday afternoons in Downtown Decatur is middle school time. Hundreds of students walk, ride bikes, or scooter there after school (without parents) and support local businesses, where they all seem to be known by name. It’s nice. If I could afford to move there, I would have years ago.
Fun fact: my younger daughter attended Dunwoody Elementary the two years it opened (along with Councilor Heneghan’s son) when it was a 4/5 academy. The principal then, Jonathan Clark, was required to keep children who walked and rode bikes (which was 6 kids on bikes out of more than 900 students) in a holding room until every motor vehicle left the campus. Principal Clark left there to become principal of Decatur’s middle school. He emailed me right away to let me know that at that school, kids walking and riding bikes left first.
3. Worst Intersection in Dunwoody For what it’s worth, I deem the very worst intersection for people not in motor vehicles to be Tilly Mill and Mt. Vernon. I walk my bike across that intersection in the crosswalk almost daily and drivers continually break the law there by blatantly running the red light as well as cutting me off. I have seen them do this to people of all ages and abilities, parents pushing strollers, etc. If you are wondering what kind of city we are, from the point of view of those of us walking, riding bikes, and using assistive devices, we are a “speed up to beat” city, not a “slow down to greet” city. I have ridden in “slow down to greet” cities (such as Downtown Decatur, to mention them yet again) and the difference is immediately noticeable.
4. Join Me I am doing my usual weekly ride from Decatur to Clarkston to check on my refugee sharing garden (which I am now passing on to a family new to the United States), if any of you want to join me. I park in the courthouse deck (free on weekends). It is a lovely 12-mile roundtrip mostly on the Stone Mountain PATH. In Decatur and Clarkston, you will see a wide range of multi-use infrastructure in action, bioswales, 15 mph signs, raised crosswalks, public murals, bike racks as street furniture, robust local businesses (including a stunningly repurposed gas station into the hub of Clarkston) and many more safe-access-for-all attributes simply talked about and fought over theoretically in Dunwoody. There’s also a very dangerous crosswalk along this route in Avondale (very similar to most in Dunwoody), and you will now recognize it as such after you see what is actually possible. I will be leaving Decatur at (time given). And returning to Decatur about (time given) (at which point you are also welcome to join me for a slice at Fellini’s). (Note I almost never go to the Dunwoody Farmers Market on Saturday mornings because the 2 mile/8 minute bike ride from my home is too dangerous in the road due to the continual lack of safe access for all, and the narrow yet legal-to-use-for-all sidewalk is not a Saturday option due to respect for the needs of walkers to the synagogue on Tilly Mill on that day.)
I’m leaving in 19 days for five months, so I will actually finally truly be tapping out locally in order to cover stories across the USA via bikes, buses, trains and working on six diverse organic farms (from horses at a sanctuary to a Hare Krishna llama herd, plus at a lavender farm in the Santa Monica mountains, off-the-grid eco ranch in the Mojave Desert, a homestead in Boulder, and a goat farm in North Carolina during birthing season). I am yet again sharing my rubber-hits-the-road reality in the City of Dunwoody with you on the off-chance that it saves a life — perhaps even your own or a loved one’s. I also want it to be on the record (yet again) that you are fully aware of the present and immediate dangers throughout Dunwoody and continue to take no immediate action to create safe passage for people in our shared public space (90% of which is streets/roads), despite numerous requests from many citizens and an actual motor vehicle driver’s killing of a pedestrian. I do, however, continue to see cones protecting construction sites, potholes, and utility vehicles.
Trust the journey,
* yep, I do also drive — never on highways so I know the local infrastructures around Metro Atlanta inside and out