If you live in Atlanta and like riding a bike, then you need to get to know Rebecca Serna, the Executive Director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition is a non-profit dedicated to making biking around Atlanta safer and easier. Rebecca’s passion has me thinking about taking clients on their house hunts via bike…
Q. Sell me on riding my bike to work every day. Go!
A. When I started biking to work, I was terrified of the traffic on the main street I used – Cascade Road. But after a few weeks and a class at the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, I gained confidence. After about a month of biking to work every day, I lost 15 pounds, saved a few hundred dollars, and met a bunch of my neighbors I never would have interacted with had it not been for being out on my bike. Six years later I’ve never looked back! Biking to work is magical because it combines fun, fitness, and community, AND it puts money back into your pocket. Name one other activity that can do all that.
Q. You’re granted a magic wand, and a pot of gold: What do you do to make Atlanta a bike riding paradise?
A. Simple – add physically separated bikeways, also known as cycle tracks, to every major street, and create a network of low-traffic neighborhood streets that are signed bike routes. These two things have been showed to dramatically increase access to cycling in cities across the US and around the world. And as more people feel safe and comfortable hopping on a bike for short trips in particular, what else happens? Local businesses benefit tremendously. Other cities have shown big jumps in small business revenues on streets retrofitted with bikeways.
Q. You’re not granted a magic wand, nor do you have a pot of gold: How do you work with current resources to make Atlanta a more bike-friendly city?
1. Improve the connectivity and safety of our existing bike facilities. Projects like the one at 5th and West Peachtree (at Georgia Tech’s 5th St square) enhance the safety of intersections, reduce driver/cyclist conflicts, and make the bike lanes we do have work better.
2. Continue to raise the profile of cycling in the city through initiatives like Atlanta Streets Alive, an open streets event. At our most recent Streets Alive, over 20,000 Atlantans came out to bike, walk, run, and play on a five mile loop of streets closed temporarily to cars and opened up to people, and the BeltLine. It was magical to see small children (including my 3 year old son) riding tricycles on North Highland. I can’t wait for Spring 2013, when we bring it to Peachtree!
3. Advocate for funded projects, like the Atlanta Streetcar, to include facilities for biking, as recommended by complete streets policies. The state of Georgia now has a Complete Streets policy, meaning transportation planners must consider the needs of all types of users – bicyclists, pedestrians, older folks and kids, those in wheelchairs or vision impaired, and transit riders, when designing streets. This will save us money in the long run and create the kinds of places people actually want to live.
Q. Favorite Atlanta neighborhoods?
A. Kirkwood, where my family has lived since moving from the West End (my second favorite Atlanta neighborhood) in 2010. Kirkwood residents are so active! It’s great to see people outdoors and in the parks, and we have a wonderful little business district with everyone a person needs to survive – pizza, beer, and vegan pastries.
Q. What is the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition?
A. We are a membership-based nonprofit dedicated to making Atlanta better by creating better conditions for cycling. We offer discounts at local bike shops and other businesses for members, classes, advocacy opportunities, free/reduced cost safety gear for cyclists in need, volunteer opportunities including bike valet service at festivals, and community-building events. We are your voice for better biking in the city!
Photo Credit: The Saporta Report