Metro County Mayors Lead 1,000 Georgians in Bike Ride Ride to Georgia's Capitol
Participants ride in support of a bicycle-friendly state
Hundreds of cyclists including mayors and other elected officials, biked their way to the state capitol building today as part of the fourth-annual Georgia Rides To The Capitol event, a grassroots bike ride to rally support for improved conditions for bicycling in Georgia. The ride culminated with leaders speaking from the capitol steps to remind Georgians of the importance of bicycling and raising support for the development of regional-scale bicycle networks across the state.
"As word spreads about the event, we continue to see an increase in cyclists and elected officials who participate each year," said David Crites, executive director of Georgia BIKES!, a bicycle advocacy program that spearheaded the "Share the Road" campaign. "Our grassroots efforts have been so successful, that the Georgia House and Senate have declared today 'Georgia Rides to the Capitol Day'." The metro mayors were also recognized on the Senate Floor, following the press conference.
"I want the mayors, the members of the General Assembly and the people of Georgia to know that the Department of Transportation is about more than simply highways," said Mike Thomas, Division Director of Field Services at the Georgia Department of Transportation. "We are working together with local governments in order to develop projects that include bike facilities."
While many local governments fund bicycle and pedestrian projects and nearly $1 million in local, state and federal funding is programmed into both the Atlanta region's short term Transportation Improvement Plan and the long range Regional Transportation Plan. "Current funding amounts do not even come close to accommodating what is needed as far as bike/pedestrian infrastructure," said Regan Hammond, a planner in the Atlanta Regional Commission's Transportation Division. ARC is the planning agency that develops the regional transportation plans. In Georgia, on average, 11 percent of traffic deaths involve bicycles or pedestrians but generally only 1.4 percent of federal safety set-aside funding goes towards bike/pedestrian projects.
"The majority of vehicle trips are less than two miles which is an easy distance to bicycle," said Decatur City Commissioner Fred Boykin, owner of Bicycle South and one of the event organizers. "If we can keep improving our local infrastructure to make it safe and appealing to cycle instead of drive, then we can help reduce congestion, improve our air quality, and encourage a healthy way to travel."
The Metro Atlanta Mayors Association (MAMA) and 23 business, municipal, and non-profit sponsors hosted the event. Rides departed from Decatur and Roswell with Mayors Bill Floyd (Decatur) and Jere Wood (Roswell) riding the length of their routes. Other public officials from the region joined along the way, including Mayors Ed Rieker (Avondale Estates), Rick Roberts (Ball Ground), Kim Carter (Covington), Boyd Austin (Dallas), Denny Shortal (Dunwoody), Mike Bodker (Johns Creek), Willie Oswalt (Lake City), Tonya Peterson (Lithonia), Billy Copeland (McDonough), Bucky Johnson (Norcross), Donnie Henriques (Woodstock) and Council members Mary Norwood (Atlanta), Joe Carn (College Park), Leslie Robson (Chamblee), Kevin Hudson (East Point), Doreen Carter (Lithonia), Yul Monta Brown (McDonough), Gina Riffey (McDonough), Bill Lusk (Milton), Dianne Fries (Sandy Springs), Dan Foster (Suwanee) and Commissioner Kathy Morgan (Milton). The routes converged for the final stretch to the State Capitol. Division Director of Field Services at the Georgia Department of Transportation Mike Thomas, Senators David Adelman and Vincent Fort and Representative Doug Holt were all present at the Capitol to support the riders.
In addition to raising awareness for improved bicycling conditions in the state, the event also strives to highlight the benefits of bicycling - from an important form of transportation; a beneficial economic development and tourism tool; an excellent way to maintain health and fitness; and a great sport and family activity.
Georgia Rides To The Capitol 2009 was sponsored by the BikeMS Atlanta and Savannah Challenges, the North Georgia Bicycle Dealers Association, the Southern Bicycle League, Hope-Beckham Inc., Metro Atlanta Mayors Association and Georgia Municipal Association, the Cities of Atlanta, Decatur, Roswell, and Sandy Springs, bicycle companies TREK and Raleigh, bicycle stores Bicycle South, Free-Flight Bicycles, CycleWorks, and Roswell Bicycles, and other cycling related entities like Bike Roswell!, Bike Cobb, Georgia Bikes!, Atlanta Bicycle Campaign, Southern Crescent Cycling, Ken Rosskopf P.C., and Tony Serrano Century Ride.
"The ride to the Capitol is my favorite bicycle ride of the year," said Roswell Mayor Jere Wood. "It's not only fun, it's a great way to demonstrate to the state that there is strong support for bicycling in Georgia."
Visit www.GeorgiaRidesToTheCapitol.org for more information. High-resolution event photographs or additional materials are available by contacting Aileen Harris, at AHarris@gmanet.com.
Officials attending 'Georgia Rides to the Capital' and their respective cities
Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson
Senator David Adelman
Fred Huff of the Governor's Office of Highway Affairs
Mike Thomas, Division Director of Field Services at the Georgia Department of Transportation
Councilwoman Mary Norwood
Mayor Ed Rieker
Mayor Rick Roberts
Councilman Joe Carn
Mayor Kimberly Carter
Councilwoman Leslie Robson
Mayor Bill Floyd
Councilman Fred Boykin
Mayor Pro Tem Denny Shortal
Mayor Joe Macon
Councilman Kevin Hudson
Mayor Mike Bodker
Mayor Tonya Peterson
Councilwoman Doreen Carter
Mayor Billy Copeland
Councilman Yul "Monta" Brown
Councilwoman Gina Riffey
Councilman Bill Lusk
Mayor Jim Still
Mayor Bucky Johnson
Mayor Jere Wood
Councilwoman Dianne Fries
Councilman Dan Foster