Potential seen to make Augusta more bike-friendly

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Fifteen years ago, Milwaukee had a small but dedicated cycling community, much like Augusta's.

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Cyclists ride along Broad Street. Mayor Deke Copenhaver says one idea to put in more bicycle lanes is to cut Broad Street down to two lanes.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Cyclists ride along Broad Street. Mayor Deke Copenhaver says one idea to put in more bicycle lanes is to cut Broad Street down to two lanes.

There were maybe seven miles of bicycle lanes for the entire city and convincing city officials to stripe new roads with bicycle lanes was a struggle, recalls Dave Schlabowske, director of communications for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin.

Today, Milwaukee is listed No. 25 on Bicycling Magazine's most bicycle-friendly cities in the United States. The city's Web site has a page dedicated to cycling in Milwaukee, including a map of bicycle lanes, trails, clubs and relevant laws and ordinances. The No. 1 city, Minneapolis, offers similar information on its Web site after years without catering to its cyclists.

"Everything was stagnant until they built bike lanes," said Schlabowske. "Suddenly in one year they built 33 miles (of lanes) and bicycle use went up."

The number of wrecks involving cyclists dropped, too -- something that local cycling enthusiasts would like to see happen.

There have been 30 bike/vehicle accidents in Augusta so far this year, including two fatalities, according to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. Two of the more serious incidents have occurred this month. Dr. Dan Dickinson, 57, was killed Aug. 1 commuting to work on Belair Road; Ernest Tanner was critically injured riding a bicycle on Tobacco Road. In nearby Beech Island, Dr. Matthew Burke suffered serious injuries on a bike ride in October in Aiken County. He died in February.

In Minneapolis and Milwaukee, the number of bike/vehicles accidents went down after they put in more bicycle lanes, officials there say. In Milwaukee, the number of incidents went down 75 percent despite a 250 percent increase in cyclists over five years, Schlabowske said.

In Minneapolis, the crash rate with cyclists dropped from 12 percent in 1997 to 3 percent in 2009, data shows.

Hilary Reeves, the communications manager for Transit for Livable Communities in Minneapolis, said besides the physical separation between cyclists and motorists, bicycle lanes carry a psychological power, too. Motorists see the lanes and are more alert for cyclists, she said.

IT'S HARD TO SAY how many miles of bicycle lanes are in Augusta because there is no map or comprehensive list of locations. A survey was started in early June by planning and transportation officials to catalogue where Augusta's bicycle lanes are, but it won't be completed until this fall.

Anecdotal and visual evidence suggests that the lanes are inadequate.

Take the lane on Wheeler Road at Bobby Jones Expressway, for instance. It's four-tenths of a mile and connects with no other lanes. Most of the bicycle lanes in place are usually a result of new construction, such as the St. Sebastian Way overpass downtown and Alexander Drive, between Washington Road and Riverwatch Parkway.

But cyclists also say there have been missed opportunities to add lanes. Recent resurfacing on Furys Ferry Road is an example. David Riggans pedals that road regularly and said only about a mile of it was given a bicycle lane and that's on just one side.

"There isn't anywhere to go from there," he said. For recreational cycling, pedaling a half-mile bicycle lane 27 times "just isn't feasible," he said.

Some Augusta routes, such as Milledge Road, don't have bicycle lanes, but bear "Share the Road" signs or small markers that designate it as a bicycle route.

Frank Williams said that makes no difference if there aren't actual bicycle lanes or wide shoulders to keep cyclists from traffic. Usually cyclists stick to routes that they know are relatively safe and allow them to pick up a little speed. But it's not foolproof.

"Even routes we are accustomed to can be dangerous and they often are," said Williams, who has twice been hit by a car.

Williams said there are a lot of wide roads in Augusta with the potential for bicycle lanes, such as Laney Walker Boulevard and Sand Bar Ferry Road.

Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver also sees promise in the city's existing infrastructure. One method under consideration is to take portions of roads like Broad Street and reduce them from four lanes to two, with the extra space used for bicycle lanes, Copenhaver said.

The city is also working on developing a trail system that connects the existing trails along the levee to Columbia County and even North Augusta's Greeneway. Copenhaver said the city has already acquired a large portion of the property buffer zones in those areas.

"The key is connectivity," he said. "It's been done in other cities and we can do it here."

TO MAKE VISIONS become reality for cyclists requires endorsement from city leaders and money, Reeves said.

A federal pilot program to make the Minneapolis-St. Paul area more friendly to cyclists and pedestrians pumped $22 million into the cities in 2005. Since then, bicycling is up 33 percent and walking is up 17 percent, she said.

That effort couldn't have happened, though, without a grassroots pressure to make things happen.

"I consistently hear that (citizens) have been pushing these things for 10 years and finally the pieces align," she said.

Brent Buice, executive director of Georgia Bikes!, said Augusta is about even with other Georgia cities -- including Macon, Columbus and Albany -- in bicycle lanes.

Augusta has the advantage of some of Georgia's older towns, such as Athens, because its roads were laid out before vehicles were common. That makes it easier to lay out bicycle lanes versus places like Atlanta where some roads were built just to move vehicles as fast as possible, he said.

He cautions that bicycle lanes are not a catch-all safety device. It's up to motorists and cyclists to be aware of the surroundings. When drivers are distracted, their car goes "from machine to weapon real fast," Buice said.

Randy DuTeau with Augusta Sports Council believes city leaders see the potential for Augusta to become a major cycling hub in the United States. The economic impact of June's USA National Cycling Championship and other cycling events cannot be ignored, he said.

What's important is that after everyone leaves town, Augusta still caters to its local cyclists and does its due diligence, he said.

Riggans commuted by bicycle when he lived in Houston and said conditions for cyclists are much more favorable in Augusta. But they still come up short.

"That's part of the frustration," he said. "There's so much potential for Augusta to be a bicycle-friendly city."

TOP 25

The top 25 bicycle-friendly cities in the U.S., according to Bicycling Magazine:

1. Minneapolis

2. Portland, Ore.

3. Boulder, Colo.

4. Seattle

5. Eugene, Ore.

6. San Francisco

7. Madison, Wis.

8. New York City

9. Tucson, Ariz.

10. Chicago

11. Austin, Texas

12. Denver

13. Washington, D.C.

14. Ann Arbor, Mich.

15. Phoenix/Tempe, Ariz.

16. Gainesville, Fla.

17. Albuquerque, N.M.

18. Colorado Springs, Colo.

19. Salem, Ore.

20. Scottsdale, Ariz.

21. Louisville, Ky.

22. Chattanooga, Tenn.

23. Long Beach, Calif.

24. Cary, N.C.

25. Milwaukee

Learn more

- See Bicycling Magazine's top 50 bicycle-friendly cities at http://www.bicycling.com/news/featured-stories/bicyclings-top-50

- See a graphic of the bicycle/motorcycle crash rate in Minneapolis at http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/bicycles/CrashRate1993to2009.pdf

Safer rides

Closest cities to Augusta on Bicycling Magazine's list of top 50 most bike-friendly:

16. Gainesville, Fla.

22. Chattanooga, Tenn.

24. Cary, N.C.

29. Charleston, S.C.

40. Greensboro, N.C.

Comments (27) Add comment
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Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 08/14/11 - 01:16 am
0
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One of the things that will

One of the things that will increase safety with bike lanes (this is counter-intuitive), is it will increase bike usage dramatically. As it is now, there is the rider here or there and motorists don't really register it. With a lot of bikes motorists will notice them and be more aware.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 08/14/11 - 01:44 am
0
0
Subsequent to the recent

Subsequent to the recent death of the Ft. Gordon physician-cyclist, will A-RC satisfy the legal tests for "deliberate indifference" to the safety and welfare of the substantial number of persons who use its highways and byways as statutorally-stipulated sites for a legal form of transportation?

desertcat6
1140
Points
desertcat6 08/14/11 - 04:48 am
0
0
Craig - tell me more.

Craig - tell me more.

desertcat6
1140
Points
desertcat6 08/14/11 - 04:54 am
0
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Amazing. How could a city not

Amazing. How could a city not know how many and where its placed bike lanes?

Me
0
Points
Me 08/14/11 - 08:16 am
0
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The only problem I have had

The only problem I have had with bike riders are that they want to be treated like motorist on the road, but at red lights and stop signs, they suddenly want to be treated as pedestrians and ignore the rules of the road...one way or the other people!

Little Lamb
47049
Points
Little Lamb 08/14/11 - 08:25 am
0
0
I wonder why Kyle Martin did

I wonder why Kyle Martin did not ask the city administrator what he is doing about bike lanes?

jwynn9154
44
Points
jwynn9154 08/14/11 - 08:25 am
0
0
How about making Walton Way

How about making Walton Way from Lake Forest School to Richmond Academy 3 lanes (center, west- and east-bound) with bike lanes on each side? The road is too narrow for 4 lanes, and I suspect traffic flow wouldn't be much affected.

Little Lamb
47049
Points
Little Lamb 08/14/11 - 08:35 am
0
0
Craig Spinks

Craig Spinks wrote:

Subsequent to the recent death of the Ft. Gordon physician-cyclist, will A-RC satisfy the legal tests for "deliberate indifference" to the safety and welfare of the substantial number of persons who use its highways and byways as statutorally-stipulated sites for a legal form of transportation?

Please help me out, here. I thought the physician was hit on Belair Road. Was that in Richmond or Columbia County?

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 08/14/11 - 09:40 am
0
0
The safest place for a
Unpublished

The safest place for a bicycle is on a residential road or bike path- Not major roadways.

cityman
-6
Points
cityman 08/14/11 - 09:46 am
0
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Sad, We had hope that
Unpublished

Sad, We had hope that cyclists would become greater in Augusta but now this possibility looks less likley too. Augusta is NOT COOL. The ability to walk, run and cycle is VITAL to the COOL factor of a given city. This issue along with the high crime are two things that major building projects are NOT going to correct....unless we are talking building bike lanes and PROMPTLY closing drug houses! These problems are at the very core of the reason why Augusta is not COOL. If these problems were to be PROMPTLY addressed Augusta will have an opportunity to become COOL. Otherwise, the situation looks bleak.

cityman
-6
Points
cityman 08/14/11 - 10:02 am
0
0
I wish that someone would
Unpublished

I wish that someone would study the bike friendly cities and see what other things that these cities have in common. I bet that they do not have drug house problems like we have here in Augusta. I also bet that they have a lower number of non profit agencies. I bet that they have a far more functional government. There is NOTHING I want more than for Augusta to be Cool. These things are worthy of study to determine how best to make Augusta a better place to live.

cityman
-6
Points
cityman 08/14/11 - 10:55 am
0
0
One method under
Unpublished

One method under consideration is to take portions of roads like Broad Street and reduce them from four lanes to two, with the extra space used for bicycle lanes, Copenhaver said. Mayor Deke apparently is talking about the Harrisburg part of Broad St.

I assume that Mayor Deke is not talking about the downtown business district???
It only takes a bit of paint to make bike lanes up this part of Broad St. Why talk about it? Why has it not already been done??? ..just do it!!! Look at the money that has been spent on Augusta Studies. Something is VERY wrong when improvident s such as painting the street for bike lanes get over studied and over talked about...again the Augusta quality of life does not seem to be important to the powers that be. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzE-IMaegzQ

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 08/14/11 - 10:47 am
0
0
LL, he was killed on the

LL, he was killed on the Richmond County Belair that connects Wrightboro to Dyess. (turns off W'boro just past Barton Chapel)

Riverman1
87157
Points
Riverman1 08/14/11 - 10:53 am
0
0
Mayor Copenhaver-Boardman

Mayor Copenhaver-Boardman never misses an opportunity to wear Speedos.

cityman
-6
Points
cityman 08/14/11 - 11:03 am
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Good point Craig Spinks..very
Unpublished

Good point Craig Spinks..very good point. Quality of life in Augusta is not good because those who are in power are so far above us common people. The elite run the show.

Many downtown Atlanta neighborhoods have speed humps. Speed humps are NEEDED in many Augusta neighborhoods but like I said our quality of life is of little concern to our elite ruling class because they do not mingle with us.

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 08/14/11 - 11:08 am
0
0
Whyizzit I keep reading

Whyizzit I keep reading about all of the awful behavior of cyclists but so rarely see it myself? I probably log more miles in a car than 80% of those posting, but I can't tell you the last time I saw cyclists breaking any laws or rules of the road. No, I take that back. I was on a group ride a year or so back and we were headed down Broad to Beech Island. I did see a few people run red lights in an effort to stay with the group. I didn't, and a lot of others did not either. I knew where we were going and the ride leader had established "meet up points" along the route to allow stragglers to catch up.
I do see riders on sidewalks downtown, and the occasional person that appears to need an extra eye on them, but for the most part I NEVER see prepared road riders breaking any rules.

allhans
24053
Points
allhans 08/14/11 - 11:22 am
0
0
A new report says Augusta is

A new report says Augusta is the third most dangerous city in the entire country for driving and that has some local officials taking a closer look at those numbers..copied form the wrdw website...

Augusta, as other cities, has it's share of folks who can only have power over others when they are behind the wheel of a car.
It's an ego thing...how dare a cyclist, a slow moving vehicle or Heaven forbid, a pedestrian, stop the driver from revving that engine...

sand gnat
582
Points
sand gnat 08/14/11 - 12:27 pm
0
0
Maybe, you might be a little

Maybe, you might be a little off if you ride a bike on major roads in Augusta? These wantabe "Lance Armstrong" types should seek less traveled, rural roads so as not to impede the flow of traffic. If they stuck to the sidewalks and neighborhoods, they wouldn't have to spend all the money on those little outfits.

Little Lamb
47049
Points
Little Lamb 08/14/11 - 12:33 pm
0
0
Do Georgia and/or South

Do Georgia and/or South Carolina have laws that speak to how much of the traffic lane can be taken up by riders? I don't mind a single bicyclist riding down the highway, but it seems wrong to me for bicyclists to be riding two to four abreast, taking up the whole lane. I do see this often.

Additional Info
0
Points
Additional Info 08/14/11 - 01:08 pm
0
0
Well said Brett! Thanks

Well said Brett! Thanks Augusta Chronicle for publishing a positive article about cycling. Yes there is room for improvement on both sides for cyclists and drivers. As for some of these comments which I hate to read, but did today, the 'little outfits' help a cyclist be more efficient and comfortable. The assumption that we, myself included, all are "wantabe Lance Armstrong types", is not true. Many of us are interested in the health benefits and positive effects of riding, and the personal satisfaction that comes with accomplishing a new milestone. Also, cyclists did not make the GA law that drivers must share the road with us. However, since that is the law, we are not breaking it. All we want is for people in their cars have respect for someone out there trying to do something for their health and well-being.

Just My Opinion
5886
Points
Just My Opinion 08/14/11 - 01:05 pm
0
0
I'll go ahead and say it,

I'll go ahead and say it, personally I hate having to share the road with bicyclists. I don't care if they are riding single file and on the side of the lane, you just NEVER know what's going to happen when you pass them. They could suddenly weave to their left to avoid a rock or a pothole, their tire could blow, whatever...and then I'M the one who is at fault for hitting them?? And we're not supposed to honk at them to let them know we're passing them, right? I'd feel much better if additional bicycle lanes would be added, but that would be a huge expense to us taxpayers for just a very small amount of people who would use them. And what is this crazy talk about changing 4 traffic lanes down to 2 lanes, so that the bicyclists would have an entire lane on both sides of the road??? Are you kidding me?? We're supposed to give up 2 lanes of traffic for you folks? Even though I don't like sharing the road with y'all, you can rest assured in one thing...whenever I come up behind y'all in traffic, I WILL be careful and it's because I just don't trust you.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 08/14/11 - 02:54 pm
0
0
Re: (C)ityman @ 11:03 AM

Re: (C)ityman @ 11:03 AM -

"For now" is my response to your point regarding control of things local. We have time on our side: Billy and Bill don't.

WEBBM007
0
Points
WEBBM007 08/14/11 - 03:37 pm
0
0
The cyclist should pay to be

The cyclist should pay to be on the roads, this would pay for their lanes. Law Enforcement, Sheriff etc.., should keep the wheelchairs off the roadways, fine jaywalkers and fine the bicyclist that ride against traffic & break other traffic laws.

allhans
24053
Points
allhans 08/14/11 - 07:57 pm
0
0
WEBB You didn't include

WEBB You didn't include those pushing shopping carts with everything they own in it. They need a lane, too.

bushwhacker
39
Points
bushwhacker 08/14/11 - 08:58 pm
0
0
billyjones1949 welfare or a

billyjones1949 welfare or a government give away programs are wrong. we should do away with them......social security and medicaid too....

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 08/14/11 - 09:23 pm
0
0
Sand Gnat, sidewalks are

Sand Gnat, sidewalks are against the law in most places, and my debate is not about the safety of cycling, but rather about what I believe to be exaggeration about proportion of riders who violate road rules.

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 08/14/11 - 09:37 pm
0
0
Webbmoo7, I ride bikes, both

Webbmoo7, I ride bikes, both road and MTB. I pay just as much as you do for the use of the roads and likely more....

LL, they seem to gobble up my posts if I use a link, add a HTTP and www to this:.bicyclegeorgia.com/galaw.html for Ga laws pertaining to bicycles.

I might add, I would not be opposed to a dedicated tax on bikes or some kind of nominal license fee to help maintain both road and offroad bike paths.

cityman
-6
Points
cityman 08/14/11 - 09:36 pm
0
0
Bikers are mostly middle
Unpublished

Bikers are mostly middle class people who have disposable income. Augusta should have bike lanes. These bikers also have eyes and ears and cell phones to report criminal activity. Bikes are good for Augusta!!!

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 08/14/11 - 10:04 pm
0
0
Cityman, I think you or

Cityman, I think you or someone mentioned this before, but biking is REAL good for Augusta. it is a lifestyle amenity that attracts businesses who are looking to have a community their employees will thrive in and be happy. Just like having parks, pedestrian friendly commercial districts, dog parks, professional sports teams, etc., etc. All of these lifestyle factors contribute heavily in decisions whether or not to relocate to a city.
Unfortunately, there is still so much backwards thinking in Augusta I doubt it will ever rise again to compete with cities of similar size. Reading these forums tell you that.

Oh, and to dispel some of the other ignorance I've seen posted numerous times on the various bike stories; you do NOT have much option just to "ride in your neighborhood" unless you just want to go around and around and around. It is child's play for a decently conditioned road bike rider to cover 50 miles. You wanna do that around your neighborhood?
Most of us remember childhood days and confuse our experience on those bikes with what people are doing today. A decent entry level road or mountain bike will cost you $800-$1000; and many of these you encounter are double to triple that. They are lightweight with low rolling resisteance and high end low friction drivetrain. Fifty miles is routine for many of them, and 100 is routine for some in an outing. Yea, do that in your neighborhood.

WEBBM007
0
Points
WEBBM007 08/14/11 - 11:35 pm
0
0
Vito45 - My point is that to

Vito45 - My point is that to add a cyclist lane adds the cost of width of the roadway & also the maintenance. Also for all cyclist, should ride on roadways that are 24 ft wide or wider; That is for everyones safety!

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