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Cycler Chronicles: Atlanta's Beltline Trail

Image shows Atlanta Beltline railroad corridor before, and after trail conversion Image shows Atlanta Beltline railroad corridor before, and after trail conversion

Old train cooridor now commute option

By Chris Heller, Atlanta Daily Biking Commuter

EDITOR's NOTE: Cycler Chronicler Guest Columnist, and Cartoon Network Graphic Designer Chris Heller, battles the Midtown traffic of Atlanta, Georgia, on his daily commute to work.  This Atlanta biker boy wants to share with GLOBers the progressive approach Atlanta has taken to making their streets more biker friendly.

It looks like the city of Atlanta is starting to make moves so that cycling will be a more viable commuting-to-work option in Atlanta.

Bicycle commuting in midtown and downtown Atlanta is not user friendly. The majority of drivers view cyclists as obstacles in the road slowing them down.  Add on top of that struggle for the road,  Atlanta’s roads weren’t built with the cyclist in mind.  The big concern is the roads are not wide enough to allow for a bike lane, and this inadvertently pits cyclist and motorist against each other vying for their ‘piece of the road.’

An old railroad corridor circling the core of the city is currently being transformed into the Atlanta Beltline.  The Atlanta Beltine is a sustainable project providing a network of public parks, multi-use trails, and transit by re-using the 22-miles of historic railroad corridors circling downtown and to directly connecting 45 neighborhoods directly to each other.

The Beltline is a paved path for pedestrians, cyclists, or any alternative commuters. The first part of the Beltline was built in 2012 and is called the Eastside Trail. The Eastside trail stretches 2.5 miles and the great part about it is that it runs directly inline with my daily commute direction.  I travel approximately 6.4 miles in each direction from my home in east Atlanta to the Turner Broadcasting building in Midtown Atlanta, so the Beltline trail is a substantial and welcome break from motorists.

One way I’m personally trying to improve cycling in Atlanta is by using an app developed at Georgia Tech. Cycle Atlanta is a smartphone app for recording bicycle trips. The app uses your phone's GPS software to record your routes in real-time, allowing the City of Atlanta to know which routes cyclists prefer. The information collected by the app is transmitted to and used by the City of Atlanta to see which routes cyclists prefer and to make strategic improvements to bicycle infrastructure. This will make cycling in Atlanta a better experience, and encourage those who currently don’t bike to try it. Check out the local NPR story about the City of Atlanta's commitment to cycling.

I also participate in the Georgia Commute Options service by logging my bike trips.  This is a program of the Georgia Department of Transportation that offers free commute options services to individuals and workplaces.

The GCO service makes it easier to switch from driving alone to one of many commute options such as: carpool, vanpool, transit, telework (work from home), bicycling, and walking.

There are 85,000 Georgians using Georgia Commute Options and the numbers are growing. Many employers, and companies use the service too by encouraging employees and staff to take advantage GCO with staff incentives, and personal recognition . My employer (Turner Broadcasting) uses the service and makes it available to me, so I login under the company name. I have also earned a number of Barnes and Noble gift cards for logging my rides!

I like to think of bikers, as alternative commuters are making a difference.  In December a 20-county area of metro Atlanta has met federal requirements relating to for the 1997 “8-hour ozone standard.” designation.   According to a Dec 2, 2013, EPA news release:  “The Atlanta area has made significant progress in improving air quality. This progress is a result of hard work and great cooperation among local, state and federal agencies, private partners and the over four million Georgians who live and work in the Atlanta area”that meets the standard. – including one Chris Heller, and many other bikers.

Last modified onThursday, 23 January 2014 05:51
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