Results of a recent survey show Georgia's motorists are quick to slow down and change lanes for cyclists. But it doesn't diminish their frustration with sharing the road.
The results are just one facet of the wide-ranging survey of 615 citizens conducted by the nonprofit advocacy group Georgia Bikes!.
Ninety-two percent of respondents said they were likely to slow down and share their lane with bicycles on a county or state highway. But out of those drivers, 74 percent said it was frustrating to slow down to share the lane with bicycles.
"I think it's a frustration that masks our own impatience as drivers," said Christian Lentz, a member of the Augusta Wheel Movement's steering committee.
Augusta Wheel Movement was started with a seed grant from Georgia Bikes! earlier this year and is intended to be a nonprofit educational outfit for area motorists and cyclists. This summer has been spent establishing bylaws and appointing committee members before the group is fully established by late summer.
As part of the group's development, Lentz has been conducting a local survey so that educational efforts can pinpoint specific deficiencies. The Georgia survey mostly captured the attitudes of motorists. Only 13 percent of the people surveyed over February and March considered themselves "regular" cyclists; of those, 6.5 percent were "frequent" cyclists.
The Augusta survey is more focused on cyclists. For instance, the survey asks cyclists how knowledgeable they believe they are of Georgia and South Carolina law. That question is followed up with a short quiz of cycling laws in both states.
The results should be ready in a few weeks, but until then Lentz is reviewing the state survey. One of the most encouraging statistics he gleaned from the survey was that 72 percent of those questioned agreed that both motorists and cyclists fare best when bicyclists are treated as drivers of vehicle.
"That acknowledges that a lot of people do believe (cyclists) belong on the road," Lentz said.
Out of the group that expressed frustration with cyclists, 20 percent said they would likely blow their horn or yell at a slow driver or bicyclist.
Cyclist Martin "Gator" Cochran said that's about right for Augusta, although he might even drop that percentage a bit lower.
"It's that one-out-of-100 rule," he said. "Most everybody will slow down."
Ben Hyler at Andy Jordan's Bicycle Warehouse said the statistics seem to generally fit with the attitude of Augusta's motorists. Hyler, who rides his bicycle to work and recreationally, said generally he doesn't have any incidents with motorists.
When there are problems, it's about evenly split between intentional, malicious actions and just being unaware of bicycles, Hyler said.
Cochran said this survey will continue providing critical information to both cyclists and motorists.
"Attention and education," he said. "That's where it's at."