Wow- I picked up an issue of CL yesterday, excited to see cycling featured on the cover. Unfortunately, CL emphasizes (intentionally?) the marginalization of cycling by the dominant car culture here by "interrupting" the cover image with a car ad in the upper right corner. Thanks for putting a bike on the cover, but reminding readers about the "ultimate driving machine' at the same time. Ugh. And, -sigh-
FYI, Los Angeles (where I lived until about a month ago) just had its first Critical Mass that followed the rules and had the support of LAPD. This was highly controversial to veteran CM-ers before the ride, but guess what- it was a SUCCESS! See, there's no need to do a protest ride that involves breaking laws and pissing people off. Check it out: http://la.streetsblog.org/2010/06/26/kumba… AND http://laist.com/2010/06/28/success_critic…
I think Critical Mass is a great thing in cities where there's already a big cycling scene- the one in San Francisco, for example, is fantastic. However, for a city like Atlanta that is so bike-unfriendly, I'm afraid CM is counter to our interest of promoting a share-the-road mentality. So many drivers are already aggravated by bikes on the road; why do anything to piss them off more? I don't get how it helps us here!?!
As a cyclist and car-free Atlanta resident, I'm glad to see cycling featured as a cover story and focus of a CL issue. This city certainly has a LONG way to go and I doubt we'll see many improvements anytime soon, but I'd love to be proved wrong. Other car-heavy cities like Los Angeles have made huge leaps in transit and cycling infrastructure in recent years, but they have two major advantages over Atlanta: 1. straight roads that go through and are grid-like (Atlanta streets make no sense! We're the urban planners here drunk when they laid out the roads and bisected them with 8-lane freeways??) and 2. public support for transit (despite CA's budget problems that are perhaps worse than GA's, they've expanded the Metro system and continue to build new light rail extensions. Will the state and people of GA ever get their acts together to support transit here?).
Wow, there is a lot of animosity here. I don't have a car and get around Atlanta by bike- for fun, to get to work, and to take care of errands. I work, live and ride in Midtown and neighboring areas. I ride a commuter bike to work and for shopping and I ride a road bike (yes, in spandex -gasp!) for fun and fitness. Perhaps most importantly, I obey traffic laws. (It would behoove everyone to check out the GA bike laws, too: http://www.atlantabike.org/node/1398)
I obey traffic laws because I see no reason to make motorists more angry and aggressive than many already are. (To be fair, I encounter a lot of respectful drivers as well). Sure, there are cyclists who don't obey laws just as there are motorists who don't obey laws. Trying to rank the severity of one person's disregard for rules is irrelevant here. The solution isn't to adopt an attitude of "if they don't obey laws and respect me, I won't obey laws and respect them." We should all try to take the high road. Be considerate. My greatest wish here is that Atlanta motorists and the city itself will help foster a situation where I can comfortably and properly share the road without being harassed, without having my life endangered by bad drivers, and with proper bicycle infrastructure. With thoughtful contemplation and reverence for humanity, we can adjust our behavior to allow for all people to live life.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
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