August 27, 2014

Slow Down and Look Out When You're Driving or Walking on Campus

City Dope

Paramedics treat a UGA student who was hit by a car while crossing Baldwin Street Wednesday, Aug. 20.

No sooner had classes started at the University of Georgia than a car hit a student as he was trying to cross Baldwin Street. Two days later, it happened again at the same spot.

Thankfully, neither student was seriously injured. (Incredibly, the one who was hit Monday, Aug. 18, Rob Richards, Jr., went back to work and even to martial arts class the very next day, as Flagpole intern David Schick reported.)

Unfortunately, this is what happens when you combine thousands of students on foot, many of whom are too busy looking at their phones to look both ways, with thousands of inexperienced drivers, many of whom are on their phones, too, and are used to suburbs where everyone drives 45 miles per hour and no one walks. (For the record, both of the students who were hit were blocked from view by parked buses, which doesn't excuse the drivers from not exercising more caution as they approached a crosswalk but is something of a mitigating factor.) So let this be a warning to everyone to be more careful out there.

UGA and Athens-Clarke County have discussed over the years closing Baldwin Street to cars, but ACC has resisted, because it's the main east-west route through campus, and closing it would push more traffic onto already-congested Broad Street downtown. UGA officials did not respond by press time to an inquiry into whether that conversation might be renewed.

New Bike Lanes: People who ride bikes on campus got a welcome surprise this month: a new bike lane on Sanford Drive approaching Baldwin Street, where it narrows down to one lane for buses only. A counter-flow (against traffic) bike lane headed downhill, separated from the bus lane by posts, was installed in 2012. Over the summer, UGA installed another bike lane going uphill, this one painted green.

Painted bike lanes are all the rage lately in many cities. Their colorfulness serves to further draw drivers' attention to their presence. Part of the bike lane alternates between painted and unpainted squares known as "skip lines," which indicate to drivers that bikes may be crossing in and out of the lane. The new lane also includes a green "bike box,” where cyclists can wait at the traffic light ahead of, rather than alongside, buses. And there's a bikes-only stop sign at the crosswalk to protect the high numbers of pedestrians.

Maybe there are advantages to living in a benign dictatorship. UGA did a study, saw the need and installed a bike lane that's on the cutting edge of traffic engineering—no muss, no fuss.

Craft Conundrum: Georgia legislators must have been drunk when they wrote the state's alcohol regulations. Among the silliest: You can't transport more than a gallon of home-brewed beer, which probably made sense in the days of bootlegging, but not anymore. Because homebrewers like David Ducrest want to start holding tastings, lawmakers tried to rectify that. But what they came up with might be even more confusing.

Now, according to state law, homebrewers can transport up to 25 gallons of their beer to a special event that's permitted by the local government. The catch, though, is that they can't host the event anywhere that's already licensed to serve alcohol—not a bar, not most restaurants, not even the Classic Center.

Ducrest told the commission's Legislative Review Committee that he wants to organize "a very exciting event, like the Athens Wine [Weekend] or the Classic City Brew Fest," where beer fans can buy tickets to taste a few dozen homebrewers' hoppy creations.

The LRC's recommendation to the full commission is to restrict such events to the times when the noise ordinance doesn't apply (6 a.m.–11 p.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m.–midnight on weekends), except they can't start until noon on Sundays. They'd also be limited to commercial and industrial zones, not residential—although Ducrest pointed out that homebrewers aren't a hard-partying bunch.