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Georgia Is Kind of Friendly to Bikes

Georgia isn’t best friends with bikes. More like a neighbor who seems all right, or that guy at the bar whose name you forgot, but you nod at him anyway.

The state ranks 24th in bicycle friendliness, according to a report release today by the League of American Bicyclists.

Washington is the most bike-friendly state and North Dakota the least, according to the report. Among Southern states, Texas (21), Tennessee (17) and Virginia (16) ranked higher.

Georgia got points for its safe-passing law, complete streets policy, active state advocacy group (Georgia Bikes), share the road campaign, statewide bicycle plan, education for police and emphasis on bike safety. It lags behind on planning, infrastructure and funding.

Recommendations include lowering speed limits to 20 miles per hour where warranted, a ban on using cell phones while driving, bike lanes on more major roads and directing more state and federal transportation funding toward bike infrastructure.

Here’s a press release from Georgia Bikes about the report.

In honor of National Bike Month, the League of American Bicyclists has released its latest Bicycle Friendly States ranking. In the sixth annual assessment, Georgia achieved a #24 ranking nationally, while placing 4th among southern states.

“We are encouraged to see significant progress in top states like Washington, Delaware, Colorado and Oregon,” said Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. “But, as the scores clearly highlight, there’s much work to be done in critical areas like infrastructure and planning in every state. “

The Bicycle Friendly States Ranking is now even more comprehensive, capturing more information than ever before and delving more deeply into the issues embedded in becoming a more bicycle friendly state.

Georgia’s #24 ranking was based on a number of key indicators, including infrastructure and funding that provide on-the-ground bicycle facilities; education and encourage programs that promote cycling; and passage and enforcement of bicycle-friendly laws that make it safe and comfortable for people of all ages to ride. 

Georgia has made significant strides toward improving bicycling conditions in the past year. Most notably, the Georgia DOT adopted a “Complete Streets” policy in 2012. This policy integrates bicycle and pedestrian accommodations into most state and federally-funded transportation projects. In 2011, Governor Nathan Deal also signed into law HB 101, which requires motorists to provide a minimum buffer of three feet when following or passing a person on a bicycle. Future goals to further improve roadway safety include consistent bicycle traffic counts in urban areas, establishing bicycle transportation performance measures, and setting aside dedicated safety funding to plan, build, and evaluate quality bicycle facilities.

“The Georgia Department of Transportation acknowledges the League American Bicyclists rating of 24th,” says GDOT Chief Engineer Russell McMurry. “We believe that this ranking will continue to improve as we implement more bike friendly projects resulting from the Complete Streets policy, updating of statewide bike and pedestrian plan, and focus on safety improvement opportunities at high crash frequency locations.  GDOT is also committed to work with Georgia Bikes and other groups to improve our standings.”

“There is no doubt that Georgia is an outstanding state for cycling,” adds Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “As more motorists become familiar with our three-foot rule and as more on- and off-road biking lanes and trails are built, we believe that our ranking will only increase.”

The BFS program is more than an annual assessment. Throughout the year, League staff will work actively with state officials and Georgia Bikes to help Georgia identify and implement the programs, policies and campaigns that will improve conditions for bicyclists.