Despite the cold weather more than 700 cyclists participated in the ninth edition of Georgia Rides to the Capitol on March 18 to reinforce safety for riders and improve bicycling conditions.
This year Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal joined the event and addressed to the crowd, along with 35 elected officials, about improving conditions for cycling, including the development of regional systems of both on-road bicycling facilities and multi-use trails.
According with Brent Buice, executive director of Georgia Bikes, a nonprofit organization, the event was a big success, not only to improve cycling conditions but to promote bicycling throughout the state of Georgia.
A large group from Decatur left from the East Lake MARTA Station early that morning accompanied by Atlanta and Decatur police officers and firefighters.
These riders joined with others from Roswell at the capitol to hear elected officials and others talk about bicycling issues.
“We are here to promote safety and healthy habits,” said Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson, who couldn’t join the ride because he was recovering from an illness.
“Where is appropriate we have to share the roads, built bike lines, and bike paths. Appropriate type of facility in different places of the cities,” the mayor added.
One of the riders, Amber Raley, said she recently donated her car to NPR after buying a new home in southwest Atlanta. Being close to MARTA and the recently constructed Belt Line trail, this bike lover decided to bike for life.
“I only use my bike to get around. Riding my bike is a triple benefit: it’s better for the environment, I get in shape and it’s better for my pocketbook,” she said.
Raley said she feels good on her bike because she is able to interact with the community and enjoy the details in nature and architecture of the buildings when she is riding.
“When you get on a bike you have this sense of freedom. It gives me a better sense of community with my city. When you are in a car you are in a box, in your own bubble and you don’t interact with people. Since I ride my bike I know my neighbors better.”
According to Raley, who rides around downtown Decatur every day, the city is getting safer and DeKalb is a good county to ride a bike with careful route planning your route and adherence to the rules of the road.
“The biggest issue is that drivers don’t know that when you are riding your bike you are legally allowed to ride as another vehicle on the road. There is a lot of education to be done. If we invest a little bit more on that the drivers will understand,” she said.
Events like Georgia Rides to the Capitol are great ways to meet other riders and come together in solidarity, Raley said, and to provide a voice for people who ride bicycles in Georgia.
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