Atlanta may create citizens’ commission to promote safe walking, bicycling networks

By David Pendered

Atlanta is poised to create a citizen’s commission to advise city officials on on-going efforts to promote safe walking and bicycling networks in Atlanta.

Atlanta bicycling

Atlanta is poised to create a citizens’ commission to advise the city of ways to promote safe cycling and walking in the city. Credit: grassroots.groupon.com

Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan introduced the legislation. The council’s Community Development Committee gave it unanimous approval on March 29, sending it for a vote by the full council at its April 18 meeting.

The proposed Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Commission has a broad array of responsibilities that are to include:

  • “Advise the City on opportunities related to current and future bicycle network, bicycle planning initiatives, bike share expansion, traffic safety and innovative or best practices;
  • “Establish and maintain communication with similar advisory committees in adjoining jurisdictions to support the enhancement  of bicycle and pedestrian networks regionally;
  • “Assist in the application process for Bicycle Friendly City Designation and other similar applications and interact with local and regional law enforcement, other governmental agencies, and advocacy organizations as they relate to bicycle and pedestrian safety on- and off- road bicycle network developments.
Becky Katz

Becky Katz

Committee Chair Andre Dickens asked if the city’s chief bike officer had been consulted. Theodis Pace, the committee’s staffer, said Becky Katz wasn’t at city hall that day. Pace said he’d asked Planning Commissioner Tim Keane if he had concerns; Keane responded that he had no concerns, and if any arise the paper can be amended.

The bike friendly city designation is awarded by the League of American Bicyclists. Georgia now ranks at the nation’s 25th bicycle friendly state. Georgia has nine bike friendly communities; 13 bike friendly businesses; and four bike friendly universities.

The nine Georgia cities recognized as bicycle friendly are: Athens-Clarke County; Columbus (which was renewed last year); Decatur; Jekyll Island; Peachtree City; Milledgeville; Roswell; Savannah; Tybee Island.

The deadline for applying for a designation this year is Aug. 9.

Wan’s legislation notes that Atlanta created a organization similar to the one he proposes following the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. The entity created at that time merged the Mayor’s Bicycle Planning Committee with the City Council Bicycle Parking Task Force.

The fate of the organization is not described.

But the Mayor’s Bicycle Planning Committee is cited in a citywide bike plan adopted in September 1995. This plan made a number of recommendations. Some of them remain as aspirations in the city’s Connect Atlanta plan, which the council adopted in September 2015.

The commission proposed by Wan is to have 11 voting members. Five of these 11 will be appointed by advocacy groups already working to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians. The five organizations are:

  • rp_cycling_photo-300x201.pngSafe Routes to School;
  • Atlanta Public Schools
  • Atlanta Bicycle Coalition
  • PEDS
  • Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.

The remaining six members are to be appointed by the mayor and council. The mayor gets one appointee; the council president gets one appointee; and a matrix provides for councilmembers to share in choosing the remaining appointees.

Five non-voting members are to represent the city administration and provide technical assistance. These members are appointed by virtue of their position within the government and include the:

  • Chief Bicycle Officer;
  • Atlanta Police Chief, or designee;
  • Commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation, or designee
  • Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Community Development, or designee;
  • Commissioner of the Department of Public Works, or designee.

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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