Cycling advocates from Georgia and South Carolina will converge on Augusta this weekend to plan the future of cycling in both states and the Garden City.
The 2012 Georgia-lina Bike Summit will feature networking opportunities for grass-roots groups such as Wheel Movement-CSRA and Bike Alpharetta and educational sessions at Augusta State University on topics such as local advocacy and funding bicycle projects.
Leaders expect the summit not only to build cohesion in the cycling community but also to show city and state leaders the economic potential represented by cyclists. When businesses want to expand or move to the area, “they want to see progressive changes happening,” said Randy DuTeau, who represents both the Augusta Sports Council and the Wheel Movement at the summit.
This is the third such event in Georgia but the first to bring advocates from across the state line in South Carolina. The theme of Bicycle Friendly Across Borders is a natural step for the conference, because so many area cyclists cross state lines on their rides, said Brent Buice, the executive director of Georgia Bikes! Cyclists in both states plan to generate a vision between the states for safer infrastructure.
“Both cities on either side really need to understand the needs of the region and not get fixed on borders,” Buice said.
Amy Johnson, the executive director of the Palmetto Cycling Coalition, provides the example of Georgia’s street design guide, which plans for bicycles on just about every state road. South Carolina can learn from that, she said.
“We’re really excited about creating safer and better cycling spaces,” Johnson said.
For DuTeau, bringing the Bike Summit to Augusta represents a validation of the work by Wheel Movement-CSRA. The grass-roots movement was started with a grant from Georgia Bikes! in the wake of two wrecks that killed cyclists Matthew Burke and Daniel Dickinson within six months in 2011. Burke was a close friend of DuTeau, and DuTeau said it was difficult at times not to contribute to the negative commentary from cyclists and motorists in the community.
Turning that tragedy into an opportunity for positive discussions and training classes has been cathartic in many ways, DuTeau said. This weekend’s summit is just one manifestation of what can happen with the right attitude.
“Ultimately, that’s what will win in the end,” DuTeau said.