Pictured: Red, Bike & Green Atlanta
Atlanta has been on a mission to boost its standing on the national urban-cycling scene and spike the city’s safe mobility and public health index. The goal: Become a top 10 cycling city. So, when Atlanta’s Relay Bike Share program exploded in less than a year from 100 to 500 blue cruisers, now positioned at 60 stations around town, it signaled the obvious and highly anticipated: Atlanta, proper, is becoming “bikable.”
From Music Midtown to Mercedes-Benz Stadium and virtually every neighborhood festival, free bike-valet systems have now become the city’s cycle infrastructure.
In June, Atlanta Streets Alive recorded a record attendance of 110,000 people, according to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. Earlier this year, Buckhead’s urban-reclamation PATH400 trail hit an impressive milestone: Half of the multi-use amenity has now been built (that’s 2.5 miles), less than three years since the first segment broke ground.
Mayor Kasim Reed’s investment to interweave bicycle riding into the fabric of Atlanta life has paid off. Several years back, for the first time in the city’s history, the city of Atlanta was named one of the top cities in the country for bicycle riding, according to a major magazine devoted to cycling.
Every two years, Bicycle publication reviews Census and Department of Transportation data for more than 100 cities, consults with bicycle experts and interviews advocates and everyday riders to identify the 50 most bike-friendly cities in the United States. Atlanta ranked number 43 on the list for the first time.
“Atlanta is honored is be recognized as a leading bicycle city in the United States,” said Mayor Reed. “Cycling has become an essential part of Atlanta’s transportation network, and we see this mode increasingly growing in popularity. We will continue to invest in bicycle infrastructure for our residents and visitors to enjoy for generations to come.”
Mayor Reed went on to launch Relay, the city’s bike share program, in June 2016 where currently, 500 bikes are available for rent at 60 stations in heavily-trafficked downtown locations. The City of Atlanta has also invested in more than 30 miles of bike lanes, including four miles of protected and buffered bicycle lanes around Atlanta.
In addition, Mayor Reed named Becky Katz the City’s Chief Bicycle Officer. In her role, Katz supports Atlanta’s efforts to achieve national recognition as a bicycle-friendly community. Her duties also include planning bicycle projects to completion, public outreach, project development and ensuring that the Relay bicycle share program was launched.
“When I first became Chief Bicycle Officer for the City of Atlanta, I was charged with advancing our bicycle initiatives,” said Becky Katz. “I am so proud that the City of Atlanta was named a best bicycle city. This is just the beginning. We will grow our bike share system to 500 bikes by the end of the year, increase the amount of high-quality bike lanes in the city and create a connected bicycle infrastructure network making it safer for riders to get around.”
And any day now, the Beltline should officially unveil three miles of new network (the Westside Trail) as work progresses on the partially open Eastside Trail extension.
Bikes, cities and health – a good combination. AT