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GA Tech Starter BikesStarter Bikes | Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.

It appears that Georgia Tech’s Starter Bikes program has experienced a bit of a bumper crop this fall with the recent receipt of over 100 donated Bicycles.  They are having a sale!

Starter Bikes is a collaborative project with Georgia Tech’s Students Organizing for Sustainability and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. Volunteers refurbish abandoned and donated bikes into low-cost, entry level bicycles for students and community members in need of inexpensive but reliable transportation. The program is also available for people who would like to try a bike, but don’t want to make a large up-front investment until they have more experience

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Every kid should be able to ride their bike to school. This right of passage, ushering in new freedoms and new independence for kids also brings with it the prospect of new angst and worry for parents.  Between 1969 and 2001, the percentage of school-aged students who walked or biked to school in the United States declined from 41% to just 13%. Traffic and safety concerns are cited as the primary barriers to parents feeling comfortable in allowing their children to bike- or walk to school.

The Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School (ANCS) is taking the lead in creating a safer environment for students to ride their bikes to-and-from school; now through a partnership with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, ANCS  is providing middle school campus students with the knowledge and training needed to develop safe cycling habits and strengthen on-bike decision making skills.

Safe Routes To School (SRTS)

ANCS is the recipient of a $500K federal grant for a Safe Routes To Schools (SRTS) project to enhance walking and bicycling opportunities for students and the communities around each campus.  In conjunction with the Georgia DOT and the City of Atlanta Department of Public Works, which sponsor the project, ANCS will construct and improve campus-area facilities such as sidewalks and crosswalks and address safety issues by various programs—all designed to make it easier and safer for students to walk or bike to school.

Confident City Cycling 

On October 19th, 2011 ANCS has arranged for students to participate in the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s Confident City Cycling Course.  This compact yet comprehensive class covers everything students need to know to learn to “drive”  thier bike safely and confidently in a city neighborhood environment. It includes bike handling skill drills and an instructor-led ride with feedback to reinforce what students learn in class.

Our Family’s Experience

Woody Gap North Georgia Cycling Six Gap 6 Three Gap 3 Youth Atlanta Bike Bicycle.Since starting 6th Grade at ANCS this year, my 10 year old son Liam has ridden his bike nearly every day.  We rode together for the first couple of weeks optimizing a route that balanced distance, traffic and safety.  Our route includes the crossing of 3 fairly major thoroughfares.  Two of these crossings he handles solo, but for the third and busiest he has coordinated a meet-up with other students to safely cross en-masse.  Liam now rides by himself most days and I have noticed a new (though far from perfect) level of situational awareness in him on our rides together.    He has even modified his route slightly on his own to avoid a dog that enjoys chasing kids on bikes!    I look forward to the additional skills and knowledge that Liam will gain through his particiaption in the Confident City Cycling Course at ANCS!

 

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Atlanta Bicycle Coalition Jails Ride Kirkwood Sunday Ride Atlanta By BikeABC’s training ride this month is hosted by the Kirkwood Sunday Ride (facebook page).  Instead of our usual start at Manuel’s Tavern, we’ll be meeting at Le Petite Marche in the Kirkwood Neighborhood (map below).

We’ll still ride past multiple incarceration facilities, a landfill, and along the little known McAfee Road. Of the three, only McAfee poses a threat to you – with 6 steep hills packed into a straight-as-an-arrow 3.3 mile stretch. This ride has some great lightly-traveled sections of road, yet never ventures outside of I-285.

Driving directions:  East on I-20, exit left on Maynard Terrace, right on Memorial, then left on Howard.

Ride starts at corner of Howard and Hosea Williams.

Riding directions from downtown Decatur:  ride south on N. McDonough, right on Oakview, right on Hosea Williams into Kirkwood retail district.  Start is across Howard from the BP station.

Transit: Closest MARTA stations are Candler Park and East Lake – transit directions. (Enter the address “1963 Hosea L. Williams Dr., Atlanta GA 30317” into the destination field).

Ride at 9 am, then plan on staying on for post-ride bike talk and brunch at Le Petite Marche.  Order off the menu, or take advantage of the “Cyclist Special” — served by our own volunteers!.

This no-drop ride has an A and B group.

For more information email David Southerland david@perimetergo.org or call 404-933-4541.

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Yes, it can be done- an entire weekend in Atlanta by Bicycle!  The boys and I lined up our weekend activities and decided that we were going to do them all by bicycle- all over the city.  We pulled up google maps and determined that it was about 5 miles to Piedmont Park where we would hit the pool; this despite my long-running and completely justified phobia of public swimming pools.  Afterword we would head over to the Atlanta Streets Alive event in Sweet Auburn; all by bike.  Sunday would be our usual Kirkwood Sunday Ride– a loop around intown Atlanta.

Piedmont Park

We set out to the Piedmont Pool around 11:30 and by the time we rolled through the gates at around noon, the heat even had me considering a dip in the public waters.  My phobia of public pools is born mostly from my being accustomed to swimming in the vast, uncrowded and COLD waters of Lake Ontario growing up.  The St. Lawrence River and the Thousand Islands remain my vision of ideal aquatics to this day.  I would actually feel refreshed and cooled after a dip- not just wet and covered in a film of chlorine and sunscreen.  My phobia grew after moving to Atlanta and after being goaded and guilted into the Candler Park Pool by my ex.  No sooner had I tentatively ventured in than a kid next to me aspirated some water while being dunked then proceeded to vomit a viscous neon orange jet of vomit into the pool.  It was Cheetos.   I had watched him scarf down an entire bag before  cannon-balling his siblings moments before.  Now it floated in a glowing orange slick as people lept from the pool.   It took me two years to venture in again.

We arrived at the Piedmont pool to find a friendly foreign student worker who informed us that the pool was closed due to “contamination”.  Even through her hard-to-place accent (South Africa?) I could read what she was telling me: some kid had dropped a deuce in the pristine and over-chlorinated waters of the Piedmont Park Conservancy’s newly renovated and immaculately kept aquatic gem.  Scenes of Bill Murray in Caddy Shack donned in a hazmat suit and ceremoniously coaxing a presumed turd into his skimmer at the bottom of a hastily drained clubhouse pool immediately popped to mind.  No Baby Ruth in this pool.  I also learned from some nearby moms that this was a not infrequent occurrence.   A phobia is defined as “An extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something”.  I am thinking that my phobia may not be so extreme or irrational…

So we left Atlanta”s version of Bill Murray hunt down his Baby Ruth and headed over to the new Piedmont Park extension that I first learned about during my volunteer as a ride leader for the Atlanta Beltline Bike Tour.  I recalled from the tour that there was a water feature similar to the fountains at Centenial Olympic Park.  The boys had a blast running and jumping through the fountain for a couple of hours and I enjoyed some time in the sun (too much it turned out) and we headed over to Sweet Auburn on our bikes. 

Atlanta Streets Alive

We rolled down Jackson street and came into Atlanta Streets alive just below its Western end at Boulevard.  The boys thought we were sneaking into Area 51 as we passed the police and barricades while an SUV (from Cobb) did a halting and angry u-turn at the street closure- I liked it already.  I have to admit that I was expecting a little more action, but then we got into it- the streets were ours!  No buses, no SUV’s from cobb or anywhere else- there was no immediate vehicular danger to our lives while astride our bikes in the middle of Edgewood Avenue- a normally bustling corridor connecting the heart of downtown Atlanta and the Little Five Points neighborhood.   There were a few skateboarders, a lady desperately trying to set up up some sort of bike challenge course, LOTS of Atlanta Bicycle Coalition volunteers (thanks Katherine!) and then it hit me- the streets were not closed, but they were open. Anything was possible on the paved canvas- not just not getting hit by a car! 

Soon we careened toward downtown just to check it all out.  We took wide arcing swaths out of the street- no on comming

traffic.  We waved at shop owners and a hipster selling used books off a blanket.  We filled our waterbottels with ice-cold water from one of the stations and noted how quiet it all was.  The boys took turns astride the painted bull in front of a Georgia State University campus building.  I chatted with  Chris, the owner of Loose Nuts Cycles about themerit of bamboo bicycle construction and the merit of me winning the Linus Bicycle they are giving away next month (it will be mine).  We turned around and headed again from whence we came- stopping in at the Sweet Auburn Market for some unsalted but freshly roasted peanuts which the boys and I ate curbside . 

All in all it was a fun event and I am glad we came.  If I had any input (which I soon might) I would suggest trying to connect the street opening the full length of Edgewood Avenue- buying into the vibrant and creative energy that is Little Five Points to the west would spill the entire length of the route to downtown.  Think L5P halloween parade on bikes…I like it.  A longer and freakier route! 

Kirkwood Sunday Ride: Kickin’ It Intown

First I just have to say that I am secretly proud of how much our little Sunday Ride has grown!  It started out last year as a solid group of 4-5 Team In Training riders for a nice Sunday recovery ride after harder training for the Tahoe Century.  There are now over 120 members in the Kirkwood Sunday Ride Group on Facebook (join if you like!) and we are now regularly having 15-20 riders show up to ride their bikes every Sunday. 

I have to admit that today’s ride had me feeling a little frustrated- mostly with myself.  We split the ride into two groups (A & B) earlier this year to keep everyone riding at their own comfort level.  This works out well when we are going to Stone Mountain and nearly everyone knows the way- but if we do something different like we did today I am realizing the importance of ride leaders or cue sheets.  We had neither today so everyone went in one group which was fun- but agonizingly slow.  We had three flats and a crash- and lots of waiting for the group to coalesce at stop lights.  As a result we had to cut the ride short (15 miles after 3 hours) and we had riders peeling off to head back. 

I don’t think that anyone wants to ride out to Stone Mountain EVERY weekend, but if we are going to vary the route it is going to take some (gasp) improved planning and coordination to come off smoothly.  This probably  means that we will have to have some folks volunteer to lead each ability group if we are not doing Stone Mountain, and may have to develop cue sheets so riders can catch up if lost or due to a mechanical.  My frustration hit mid-ride when it became apparent we were going to have to cut it short- so my apologies to everyone if I was a bit of a grumpy bear.  My appollogies too to Bridgette for causing her to wreck her new bike into me- I hope that your toe is okay!  🙂

An extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something:

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Several members of the Kirwkood Sunday Ride were unable to attend the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s Tour of the Atlanta BeltLine on May 7th.  With the distinguished honor of  several of our group’s riders having volunteered  as ride leaders at the ABC event, we elected to do our own ride along the BeltLine this Sunday.

To make a distinction up front:  Today’s ride was an informal  group ride that simply followed much of the route of the ABC Beltline Tour- but it was not the BeltLine Tour.  ABC did an  unparalleled job of route planning, volunteer coordination, ride organizing and conveyance of information through interpretive stops.   The net effect ABC’s efforts was an unparalleled contextual experience  of the BeltLine that provided participants a glimpse of the possibilities the BeltLine has to offer.

While key components of the BeltLine are coming online in relatively quick order, the BeltLine itself is not a “destination”; no more than is any other road or street in the City.  Roads are a means to an end- they are a conveyance to a larger purpose and in this regard the BeltLine is no different.  The primary distinguishing factor that the Beltline has to offer is how that larger purpose is achieved… a much needed option or choice.       

While there is now bona fide BeltLine infrastructure to see, touch, feel (and ride)- to me the most attractive features of the the project are those that remain unseen.   This blog focuses almost entirely on the trails and parks component of the BeltLine- it is a small piece of the overall picture that includes economic development, affordable housing, public art, mass transit and so on.  It is the slow revelation and gradual connection of the BeltLine’s individual components eventually forming a complete picture over time that is most fascinating to me. 

Please consider joining the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition here: www.atlantabike.org

 

 

 

 

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All I have to say is WOW!  If you missed this year’s bicycle tour of the Atlanta BeltLine by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, you really missed a treat!  I have to admit that I have been looking forward to leading this tour after the spectacular preview I received Easter weekend  on the ride leader training ride– especially after receiving an e-mail late in the week that ABC was anticpating nearly 600 people in attendance and it revealed through an official press release that Atlanta Falcons GM Thomas Dimitrof would be join the tour (in the group I would be leading).

As I departed my house on bike for the tour, things started out in grand fashion when I flatted my front tire right out of the drive-way but I was able to fix it and still report to the ride on time.  At the volunteer table I was given the red ABC volunteer shirt that I had been secretly coveting since last year’s ride- hey, I look good in red, what can I say?   Now officially in “Bike Angel” mode- I turned to assist the throngs of participants with registration, answering questions about route and pace.  I even helped Atlanta City Councilperson Yolanda Adrean and her friend with a quick bike check- cobwebs on a bike are not a good sing of current maintenance.

The crowd of participants gathered in the field under the Old Fourth Ward water tower andI met the first of the many great people from all over Atlanta that I would come in contact with throughout the day.  I really do believe that cyclists are cut from a different (and better) cloth than everyone else.  It turns out that over 120 cyclists would be in the Full Route- Moderate Pace group that I would be helping navigate the city streets over the next 28 miles.   Fellow ride volunteers Jen, Mike, Derek and I all huddled quickly before departure to finalize our game plan- discovering that we really didn’t have one but that we would do the best we could to deliver everyone safely back home.  I had never led a group this large, and being a daily cyclist in the city, I was nervous that everyone in the group would be comfortable with the traffic and hazards of urban riding.

After crusing through Cabbagetown, Ormewood Park, Grant Park, Pittsburg and Adair Parklwe made our first rest stop at the BeltLine Bike Shop- The Beltline Bike Shop takes in donated bicycles and invites inner city kids to earn a bike of their own by picking up garbage from their own streets. The Earn-A-Bike program is relationship-driven and based on the value of an exchange between giver and receiver. Tim and Becky interact with kids they meet themselves or are introduced to through a neighbor so that an authentic relationship is initiated.  I am  envious of this program and REALLY envious of their tool stock- it looks like a pro shop inside!

While standing outside the shop I found myself standing next to Tom Dimitrof and asked him how he was doing.

“Fine,” he replied “This is a really spectacular ride”

“That’s awesome, I am really glad that you could come out with us today! Do you ride much? I inquired while eye-balling is full carbon Campagnolo rig.

Dimitrof quipped “Not as much as I should.  I am really big on pushing the health aspects of cycling- especially with youth.  I want to find  ways to participate more in getting younger people into riding.”

I was really impressed with his sincerity and willingness to just come out for a ride with all of us.  He  was a regular guy that just so happens to operate an NFL team- and who has a really nice bike. I also noticed that Tom was riding with a Atiba who just so happens to run the Dream Team, a youth cycling team based in my neighborhood.  I met Atiba at last month’s BRAG Spring Tune-up and was impressed with his entire program.  At the time, I was really proud to learn that these kids were from Eastlake and Kirkwood.  I hope that these two men have some terrific things in store for youth cycling in Atlanta!

More to come from this excellent adventure- for now I must sleep, so enjoy some pictures from today!

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UPDATE: The best way to get published on my blog is to say nice things about me!  Mathilde did a really nice write up of here experience on the BeltLine Tour, be sure to check it out too:
http://matpiard.tumblr.com/post/5335510439/abcs-beltline-bike-tour-awesome
UPDATE: Some more pics from the BeltLine Tour from Atlanta Bicycle Chic, click here to check them out:
http://atlantabicyclechic.blogspot.com/2011/05/beltline-bike-tour.html

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I signed up several weeks ago to volunteer as a ride leader for the Atlanta Bicycle  Coalition’s 4th annual tour of the BeltLine.  For those of you not “In The Know” about the BeltLine, it is a $2.8 Billion redevelopment project that will shape the way Atlanta grows throughout the next several decades.  Providing a network of public parks, green space, and transit along a 22-mile historic railroad corridor, the BeltLine circles downtown Atlanta and connects over 45 intown communities.  The BeltLine is the most comprehensive economic development plan ever undertaken by the City and is among the largest and far-reaching urban renewal projects in the history of the country.

Today, I showed up to StudioPlex at 9 a.m. and made the acquaintance of some terrific folks with Atlanta Bicycle Coalition (ABC) and some fellow tour-day volunteers.  Jett Marks, the ABC volunteer coordinator was even sporting a fancy bike trailer-come-traveling sandwich board sign attached to his bike for the tour.  Given that it is Easter Weekend, images  from the Stations of The Cross would scroll through my mind as we rode…and the BeltLine is definitely a cross worth baring!  Read Jett Marks’ blog about today’s ride [here].

Training day crew with "The Cross" at Washington Park

In the little over 3-hour twenty-eight mile ride the true magic of the Beltline was revealed to me.  It was more than seeing parts of the city that I had never seen before (by bike, foot or car)- but how it would fundamentally change how Atlanta residents would participate in their environment.  With several major sections completed, or nearing completion, I was treated to a vision of connected communities that have been long isolated by barriers of geography, socio-economics and race.  I saw a great leveling of the accessibility that members of one community would have with another- weather by hopping on their bike or one day hopping a streetcar.   Accessibility creates opportunities for interaction, interaction creates opportunities for communication, communication allows for an honest discussion of real issues by real people.

Just on our tour leader training ride I counted people from 5-6 different communities that were brought together by the beltine and had a positive experience- I even picked up a few participants for The Kirkwood Sunday Ride which I lead.  This was just on a small scale with 8-10 people, and admittedly the results are small.  But imagine the incalculable impact of this level of interaction when multiplied by the potential number of BeltLine users.  It is staggering to comprehend!  Back to the real world now.

I had completed the ride last year and (sorry guys) it was slow and somewhat poorly organized.  It is already apparent by the level of planning and forethought into this year’s event that it is going to be spectacular!  There will be several tour lengths (Sweet, Half and Full) with three ability groups in both the half and full lengths.  All groups will have a leader, escort and sweep to keep the pace moving along. I would ask you to STRONGLY consider adding this to your itinerary on Saturday, May 7th.   If you go- I highly suggest the moderate group which I will be leading- we will be the “fun” group to be sure!  (Click Image Below To Register)

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