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bicycles

The driver who ran down a cyclist in Atlanta last year in an apparent case of road rage was sentenced to 15 years in prison Tuesday morning.

Last summer, Greg Germani was riding his bicycle in the Piedmont Hills neighborhood when he got into an argument with the driver of an SUV.

Joseph Alan Lewis, then 19 years old, hit Germani, dragged him down the road and then drove away.

Twitter

"Peds, relax. Only 26 percent of Atlanta motorists text when they’re not talking on their phones. #factsIjustmadeup"

Ouch. So reads a Tweet from a visitor to our town using the handle “@Bob_Gunderson.”

Bill Ruhsam / flickr.com/bruhsam

A bike sharing pilot program could soon be rolling into Smyrna. Officials there are scheduled to vote on the issue on Monday.

Smyrna officials have spent the past few years improving its trail infrastructure.

“They link into the Silver Comet System, they run along our major thoroughfares like Atlanta Road, and they connect in with the trails that go over to the Chattahoochee Recreation area,” Smyrna Councilwoman Teri Anulewicz said.

She said money from previous budgets have been set aside for trails.

Bike racks are also up in numerous spots around town.

Cyclists on Decatur Street in Atlanta
Sharif Hassan / Courtesy Atlanta Bicycle Coalition

A new report puts Georgia in the middle of the road – no pun intended – when it comes to the state’s overall bike friendliness.

In its annual survey, the League of American Bicyclists ranked the state 25th out of 50, with Georgia netting 38 out of a possible 100 points.

Reid Neureiter / flickr.com/21085902@N08/

If you ride a bicycle or motorcycle, you could soon be able to make your way through intersections without waiting for a red light to change. That’s because of a bill passed by the Georgia Senate yesterday.

Before going through an intersection, riders would have to come to a complete stop and make sure there are no other vehicles within 500 feet. But they could only go if they believe their bicycle or motorcycle wasn’t triggering the stoplight. Currently, like cars, bicyclists can turn right on red, but they’re not supposed to go straight or turn left.

Bill Ruhsam / flickr.com/bruhsam

Mayor Kasim Reed signed a contract this week with a bike share company called CycleHop. Starting this summer, they’ll be installing 50 bike rental stations with 500 bikes around the city. 

But there aren’t a lot of bike lanes in Atlanta. That could change. 

Bill Ruhsam / flickr.com/bruhsam

Nearly 170 traffic fatalities in Georgia involved pedestrians last year.

That’s according to a report from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

MedlockPark.org

A Fulton County grand jury has indicted Joseph Alan Lewis on eleven counts in the hit-and-run of Atlanta cyclist Greg Germani.

One of the charges against Lewis, criminal attempt to commit murder, is seldom used in Georgia courts. WABE legal analyst Page Pate says prosecutors rarely levy that charge because it is so hard to prove. “You can’t reach inside the defendant’s mind to determine what he was thinking at the time,” says Pate, “so you look to what he did.”

MedlockPark.org

Atlanta police have arrested the man they say intentionally ran over a cyclist in Piedmont Heights last month.

Police have charged 19-year-old Joseph Allen Lewis with attempted murder.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Lewis owns the Dodge Nitro that hit Greg Germani on Flagler Avenue June 9, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury.

Germani is well known to many Atlantans because of his website, Atlanta Time Machine.

Bicycling is getting bigger throughout Georgia, including metro Atlanta.

"You know, we graduate tens of thousands of university students every year out of the city.  A lot of them are biking.  It's been shown that they want things like a safe bike network.  Walk-able communities, bike-able communities," says Rebecca Serna, the executive director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.

But having more bikers could be one of the reasons there are more bike-related accidents, according to Serna.

There's a push to make Atlanta more bicycle-friendly.

The city's Department of Planning and Community Development is taking part in the Green Lane Project.

That program, which launched in 2012, promotes biking in general by taking steps like building protected lanes for riders.

Cullen Boudreaux / via Facebook.com/WABE

In 2014, Bicycling Magazine rated New York City the No. 1 city in America for bike friendliness. Atlanta did not enter the top 10, nor has it ever.

What’s changed is that now, it wants to. Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration announced a goal of becoming a top 10 cycling city by 2016, and began to make strides toward that goal. 

Lisa George / WABE News

You know MARTA for its buses and trains, but this morning, the focus was on transit of the two-wheeled kind.

One MARTA employee said, “To some of us, Christmas smells like bicycle tires.” Some 600 bicycles crowded the atrium of MARTA headquarters Friday morning, with one moving out the door every few minutes, destined for someone’s holiday tree.

Georgia Tech

In early October, 2013, sponsors of a bill that would have imposed a license fee on bicycles decided not to go forward with the legislation.  They had heard loud protests from bicyclists during a public hearing in Gainesville.

Although the bill appears to be dead, the tension between drivers and bicyclists remains in some areas of the state.  That raises the question of how drivers, cyclists and civil authorities can make the roads safer for everyone.

Three state lawmakers are proposing a new law that would require you to buy a license plate for your bicycle and could restrict where you are allowed to ride that bike.

Gainesville state representative Carl Rogers is one of the sponsors of House Bill 689. He says he has gotten hundreds of complaints about bicycles on the road, but his primary concern is safety, telling WABE,“Certain areas of Georgia, where there’s a lot of growth, a lot of population, and lot of traffic, it’s become a real issue.”

Catherine Mullins

Atlanta’s first two-way bike lane is now under construction near Piedmont Park. The lanes on 10th street will eventually connect cyclists from the Beltline to Peachtree Street in Midtown.

Riding a red commuter bike, Cecilia Trode, a senior at Georgia State, was on her way to class. She says she usually avoids the larger, more-trafficked roads.

“It’s just more fun to find smaller side street ways, so you don’t have to deal with angry drivers. People going fast, people passing you with less than 3 feet – it’s not very comfortable, "Trode says.

SOPO Bicycle Co-op

Jun 28, 2013

At the Sopo Bicycle Cooperative in East Atlanta, volunteers (and one paid staff member) help people rehab old bikes or make new '"frankenbikes" out of donated parts. Their goal is to make bicycling affordable and de-mysticize bike repair, by providing tools and help for a suggested donation. (People -- including kids -- can also earn bikes through helping out at the shop). Over the last year, interest in the shop has gone up as gas prices have gone up.

Silver Comet Trail

Jun 28, 2013

The Silver Comet Trail is a paved, multi-use, recreational trail that begins in Smyrna and runs west through Paulding and Polk counties. When construction on the Silver Comet is finished, it will run 94 miles all the way to Anniston, Alabama. The trail is built on top of old "Silver Comet Train" rail lines.

Velodrome

Jun 27, 2013

The community of East Point, just south of Atlanta, houses the Dick Lane Velodrome, an outdoor bike racetrack banked at a 36-degree angle that's one of the very few of its kind in the United States. Bike races at the velodrome are fascinating to watch and they have elaborate rules and names like The Snowball, the Madison, and the Miss and Out.

U.S. cities such as Boston and New York have launched bike share programs. And Atlanta may not be far behind.

Through a bike share, the city would provide bikes residents could use for a fee. And riders could decide on the spot if they feel like riding a bike, according to Dr. Kari Watkins, an engineering professor at Georgia Tech.

State officials say the number of bicycle-related fatality crashes in Georgia is on the rise. According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the number increased by 28% in 2012. 

Officials attribute the increase to a growing number of cyclists on the road. Kari Watkins, a professor of civil engineering at Georgia Tech, developed an app for Atlanta cyclists.