Georgia Highway Safety Officials, Bicycle Advocates Call For Safer Cycling Year In 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Highway safety officials and cycling advocates are calling on Georgians to make 2013 a safer year for cyclists in Georgia.

Cyclist fatalities increased by 28 percent  in 2012, while traffic deaths continued to decline overall in Georgia last year.

Highway safety officials and bicycle safety advocates attribute the increase to the growing numbers of cyclists on the road as more Georgians seek cleaner and healthier commute options.

"Bicycling will only to continue to grow in Georgia, both as a healthy recreational activity and as a sensible, enjoyable means of transportation,” said Brent Buice, executive director of Georgia Bikes!.

“To ensure that all of Georgia's road users can return home to friends and family safely, we must respect each others' right to our public roads, obey the law, be attentive, and work together to build safe facilities for all."

Crashes involving bicycles took 18 lives in 2012, compared with 14 in 2011. The 2012 fatality count for cyclists made up less than 2 percent of traffic fatalities in Georgia in 2012.

Still, Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, says Georgians can do better in 2013.

“We are always striving toward zero deaths on Georgia roads,” Mr. Blackwood said. “With cyclists, we must strive harder for that goal, as this section of the transportation population can be much more vulnerable in a crash.”

Nearly 75 percent of all bicycle-involved crashes reported in Georgia in 2012 resulted in injury, according to data released by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Monday, and cyclists’ vulnerability in a crash makes a hit-and-run situation even more dangerous.

Hit-and-run crashes accounted for 15 percent of the total number of bicycle-related crashes in Georgia last year. Of those, 47 occurred in the metro Atlanta area.

While hit-and-run crashes did not result in any fatalities for cyclists in 2012, Rebecca Serna, executive director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, worries about their potential.

“Hit-and-runs are more likely to result in the vulnerable user - the pedestrian or cyclist - becoming a fatality, because no one was there to call for help,” Ms. Serna said. “While crashes can happen to anyone, leaving the scene of a crash turns it into a crime. We are calling on all Georgians to drive or cycle with care and attention, and to always stop to render aid when they see someone in need.”

Cyclists were one of a few sectors of Georgia commuters who had a deadlier year in 2012 than in 2011.

Pedestrian fatalities also increased in 2012, as did collisions between cars and trains.

Despite the increase in cyclist deaths last year, Ms. Serna said she believes Atlanta has become a safer place for cyclists in recent years.

“This is partly due to the growing numbers of people riding bikes in the city, creating safety in numbers,” Ms. Serna said. “The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition works towards this vision by advocating for better bikeways that are safe and welcoming, and by working with our partners at the Governor's Office of Highway Safety to educate drivers and bikers on how to interact safely on our roadways.”

The city of Atlanta is working with engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology to better understand Georgia’s cycling population. Through the Cycle Atlanta app, cyclists in the city can map their routes and infrastructure issues that trouble their commutes.

"Atlanta has made great strides to be a bicycle-friendly city," said Atlanta City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell. "I am committed to working with Director Blackwood and his team to do my part to make cycling safer in the city."

Recent changes in state policy should also improve cyclist safety in and outside of Atlanta.

In 2011, Governor Nathan Deal signed a law that requires motorists to give cyclists three feet of space on the roads, and last year, the Georgia Department of Transportation adopted a Complete Streets policy that seeks to “incorporate bicycle, pedestrian, and transit (user and transit vehicle) accommodations into transportation infrastructure projects as a means for improving mobility, access, and safety for the traveling public.”

Some local governments, including Athens-Clarke County, have adopted similar measures that will include cyclists and pedestrians in future infrastructure projects.

“BikeAthens has long envisioned a comprehensive transportation network all Athenians can use with confidence and ease,” said BikeAthens executive director Tyler Dewey. “Transforming streets into Complete Streets is necessary to make that vision a reality.  It will make Athens’ streets vibrant streets.  It will make Athens’ streets safe streets.”

Likewise, the City of Atlanta plans to use the data collected from the Cycle Atlanta app to prioritize infrastructure improvements in the city.

“Safety is the number one measure of success for creating a bike-friendly environment. Through deliberate actions from motorists and cyclists alike, we can all come together to share our streets and respect the use of multiple modes of transportation,” said Atlanta City Councilman Aaron Watson.

Until those improvements are made, Kari Watkins, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech and a co developer of the Cycle Atlanta app, says that simply having more cyclists on the road will improve safety for cyclists.

“As the number of cyclists on the road grows, the number of crashes will increase, but not at the same rate as before,” Ms. Watkins said. “We theorize that as more cyclists are on the road, those driving vehicles will get used to seeing cyclists and begin to restructure how they drive, and eventually, sharing the road becomes second nature.”


The Retreat At Water's Edge Property Raffle To Benefit The Mountain Goat Trail

55th Annual Conservation Achievement Awards Recognizes 2 People From Marion, Hamilton Counties

Big Game, Quota Hunts Application Results Now Available


The Mountain Goat Trail Alliance is partnering with The Retreat at Water’s Edge to offer chances to win a property lot in the development in Tracy City, Tn. All proceeds from the raffle will ... (click for more)

Tennessee Wildlife Federation , one of the largest and oldest nonprofits dedicated to the conservation of Tennessee’s wildlife and natural resources, recognizes 16 recipients from all corners ... (click for more)

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency announced that the 2020 Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and Youth WMA quota hunts application results are now available on the Agency’s website. In addition, ... (click for more)



Outdoors

The Retreat At Water's Edge Property Raffle To Benefit The Mountain Goat Trail

The Mountain Goat Trail Alliance is partnering with The Retreat at Water’s Edge to offer chances to win a property lot in the development in Tracy City, Tn. All proceeds from the raffle will go to the MGTA. The lot, worth approximately $25,000, is one of 140 properties at The Retreat at Water’s Edge, a luxury tiny home community opened in 2019 on the Tracy City Reservoir. The ... (click for more)

55th Annual Conservation Achievement Awards Recognizes 2 People From Marion, Hamilton Counties

Tennessee Wildlife Federation , one of the largest and oldest nonprofits dedicated to the conservation of Tennessee’s wildlife and natural resources, recognizes 16 recipients from all corners of the state for its 55th Annual Conservation Achievement Awards . To ensure the health and safety of this year’s winners, the Federation did not host an in-person award ceremony. “We ... (click for more)

Breaking News

"Good Trouble Freedom Ride" Rally Moved To Community Haven Friday Night

The Community Haven was anything but serene during Friday’s rally against police brutality and systemic racism. Originally planned to take place in Miller Park, the event had to change venues after the city strongly advised the group of Chattanoogans and Atlantans to stay away off any city property. “We’re glad that we’re at the community haven and feel welcome here with brother ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Has 3 More COVID Deaths, State Has 20

The Hamilton County Health Department reported that the total number of Hamilton County resident deaths has risen to 53. Below are details of deaths 50-53: #50: 61-70 year old African-American, non-Hispanic male with multiple underlying conditions. #51: 61-70 year old African-American female with no underlying conditions and who was asymptomatic at the time of testing. ... (click for more)

Opinion

Congratulations To Marco Perez

Congratulations to Marco Perez on winning the District 2 School Board race. Marco and his team ran a well organized campaign. It is my hope that Marco will take that same organizational skill to continue the improvement of our public schools for the benefit of our nearly 45,000 students. Thanks to my incredible campaign team that worked tirelessly. Thanks as well to the many ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

These two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy takes out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says: "Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." In the silence that follows, allow me to welcome you to this ... (click for more)