By Maria Saporta
Riding along the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail and around downtown Atlanta over Memorial Day weekend, it was hard to remember a time (really not so long ago) when it was relatively rare to see someone on a bicycle in the city.
I do remember those dare-devil delivery/messenger cyclists who seemed to take their lives in their wheels each time the pedaled around. But people on bicycles seemed to be outside the norm, the odd man or woman out.
So seeing the multitude and diversity of cyclists out and about this weekend made me appreciate the cycling evolution that is taking place in our city. Along the BeltLine, there were so many families with young children on bicycles — finally with a place to ride where parents didn’t have to worry about them being hit by a car.
Of course there was the danger of the cyclists who were racing to see how fast they could by weaving around strollers and dogs and pedestrians — creating several near collisions. And then there were the recreational cyclists who were happy to take it all in — enjoy the beautiful weather, the new tree plantings and the never-ending number of people who seem to have discovered Atlanta’s new linear playground.
Along Atlanta’s city streets, dozens of cyclists were riding around Centennial Olympic Park and other spots in downtown and Midtown. Several streets now have painted bicycles letting cars know to share the road with people riding on two wheels.
It is all part of Atlanta’s evolution in becoming a more bicycle-friendly city.
And it is in that vein that Atlanta has decided to move ahead with a Bike Share program.
The City of Atlanta has issued a Request for Proposals for a “self-service bicycle rental program,” and bids are due by June 24.
Rebecca Serna, executive director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, has been working with the City of Atlanta and the City of Decatur to conduct an in-depth study on bike-sharing programs around the country. In 2012, the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation awarded the coalition a generous grant to conduct a feasibility study of a bike-sharing program in Atlanta and Decatur.
The study was conducted by Brad Davis of Robert & Co., who Serna said went “above and beyond to create an informative, attractive and thoughtful document.”
The financial analysis was conducted by MetroBike of Washington, D.C., and the technical review community included planners from the cities of Atlanta and Decatur as well as the Atlanta Regional Commission.
Here are the links to the Request for Proposals bid documents; the executive summary of the study for a Atlanta-Decatur Bike Share program; and the complete report for the Bike Share program that was done for the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.
By the way, New York City just launched its own Bike Share program on Memorial Day.