When Brookhaven resident Michael Clifford retired, he began riding his bicycle every other day. He summed up his experience riding on Brookhaven’s major thoroughfares by saying, “They’re not habitable for bicycling.”
Bill Cox, also from Brookhaven, described the 4-mile bicycle commute to his office as “dicey.”
On Oct. 22 Brookhaven took a step toward changing those scenarios when it hosted a public pres-entation and Q&A by Bicycle Friendly Community Specialist Steve Clark from the League of American Bicyclists. Clark travels the country offering advice and resources to communities interested in becoming more bike-friendly. Before his presentation at City Hall, Clark and a dozen or so others including City Council Represen-tatives Joe Gebbia (Dist. 4), Bates Mattison (Dist. 3) and Brookhaven resident Christian Cherniak, who organized the event got on their bikes and took to the the streets of Brookhaven.
During a water break after the ride, Cherniak said, “There is a big interest in forms of transportation other than cars. How do you implement that, how do you do it correctly? You cant just stripe a road and expect people are going to get on a bike and ride. It has to be a part of a network where people feel safe to ride or walk. This is all about figuring out how to execute the plan we’ve adopted to make this truly a bicycle friendly community. We wanted to show (Clark) the main arteries through-out the city (Buford Highway, Peachtree Road) … some of the hot spots and some areas that are a little more difficult.”
During his presentation, Clark said, “We know places like Brookhaven are showing more and more interest in how you make a community not just work for bicycling and bicyclists but how do you make bicycling work for your community. Clark said that cycling could be the solution to reduc-ing traffic congestion, improving air quality, reducing energy usage and improving public health. We take people out on places like Peachtree Road and show them how it can be done safely. To basi-cally empower people to bike anywhere they choose.”
“We’re really excited to have a man of (Clark’s) talent come,” Gebbia said. “He’s going to be tell-ing us the things we can and should be doing as we plan to make this a bike friendly city. He’s also going to be giving us advice on where to source funding. That’s always key. We showed him Brook-haven and gave him a good flavor for what we have here. One of the highlights was stopping by the North Fork Peachtree Creek, which we plan to turn into a 3-mile bike and walking path. Our intention is to hook it into the beltline. It’s going to be key to our economic development. We need to preplan for future development to make sure that bike lanes are automatically incorporated in the designated areas. We do have the political support and community support to do this.”
Find out more about the League of American Bicyclists at http://bikeleague.org