Bike, pedestrian lanes good for business, homeowners
by Joe Seconder
August 19, 2013 09:23 PM | 2131 views | 7 7 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
How do you look up phone numbers today? Do you still walk over to your shelf, pick up the phone book and search for a business? How do you get your “news”? By only watching a single TV channel?

Talk to just about anyone under the age of 40 (or even 50) and they’ll tell you they use the Internet. What’s more, talk to anyone under the age of 30, and they’ll tell you they rarely use email, don’t own a laptop and use mobile applications. And Facebook is being replaced by Instagram and Reddit.

Technology changes, times change and people change. Today’s Millennial generation are looking to live and work in communities that incorporate walking, bicycling and open spaces — designed more for humans rather than strictly for motor vehicles moving as fast as they can — to come together as a community.

Walking and biking make up 12 percent of all the trips in the U.S. and sadly account for 14 percent of all fatal traffic crash victims on our nation’s highways, yet only receive less than 1 percent of the total federal transportation funding.

In the Cobb 2010 penny sales tax SPLOST, $278 million was budgeted for road projects. Zero was budgeted for on-street bicycling facilities. The death or injury of a person walking or riding a bicycle affects us all, especially one that could be prevented through better engineering and design by accommodating all users of the road network. And unfortunately we’ve had several high-profile deaths of bicyclists in Cobb County this year.

Almost 25 percent of trips within the U.S. are less than two miles; walking and bicycling use no gas nor cause pollution. American’s obesity rate has doubled in the last 15 years and walking or riding a bike is a great way to get a bit of healthy and family-friendly exercise.

Across the region, you’re finding parents and elected officials coming together to add bike lanes and paths so their children can choose to walk or ride their bike to school. That makes one less car on the road in the morning if the parent normally drives their child to school. Multiply that times the thousands of parents each day driving their kids back and forth to school across metro Atlanta, and that adds up to REAL dollars we’re sending to the Middle East each day to feed our fuel addiction.

In 2009, Cobb Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt a Complete Streets Policy. It states, “Cobb County will implement the Complete Streets concept by considering safe access for all users to include motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users including individuals with physical disabilities and senior citizens in the planning, design, construction and operation of streets within its jurisdiction.”

Reference: www.bikecobb.org/cobb-completestreets

It has been the government’s role at all levels for the past several decades to heavily subsidize and reallocate wealth to support motor vehicle transportation. Think bicycles shouldn’t be on the road because they don’t pay for them? Think again. We’ve been heavily subsidizing motor vehicles to use public roads for decades. Do you know where the funds come from to pay for the roads? Revenues from motor vehicle fuel taxes and other fees only account for just over 50 percent of the cost of building and maintaining roads and bridges. The remaining amount comes from property taxes, general fund allocations, bond issues, etc.

Most bicyclists I know are white-collar professionals, paying property, income and sales taxes. They drive cars and pay fuel taxes, too.

In Georgia, bicycles are defined as a vehicle, are legally protected and are able to use the publicly owned right of way on our roads — which we all own together.

Adding bicycling and walking accommodations are good for business and homeowners.

The Northwest Georgia Regional Commission has just completed an Economic Impact Study of the Silver Comet Trail. It finds property values of homes are increased by 7 percent within a ½-mile of the trail.

For every $1 spent on the Silver Comet Trail expansion, Georgians gain an estimated $4.64 in direct and indirect economic benefits. This translates to a more than 400 percent return on investment for local communities, the region and the state. Quality of life decisions, including the availability of recreational amenities like trails, are becoming ever more important factors in where people — especially the Millennial generation — choose to live and businesses choose to relocate.

Take a look at the Lower Roswell Road project between Johnson Ferry and Timber Ridge. The local neighborhoods and families mobilized and drew support to have bike lanes and the multi-purpose trail built. When completed, parents and children will be able to enjoy a nice stroll or bike ride together. Safely. When they go to sell their homes, they can proudly state they are next to the trail as an amenity for prospective homebuyers.

In the realm of transportation dollars, funding for walking and bicycling projects is “budget dust,” with a substantial ROI and myriad benefits. Having owned my own business, I know you have to anticipate changing market conditions and evolve. Times change, people change.

Let’s not be stuck with a 1980s planning and transportation mindset. Instead, let’s design our communities for human use.

Retired Army Reserve Maj. Joe Seconder, a combat veteran of Desert Storm and the Iraq War, is a sales executive with a Fortune 100 tech company, was founder of Bike Cobb and is a board member of Georgia Bikes.

Comments
(7)
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LTC(Ret) WmBeverley
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August 20, 2013
Like Joe I am a Veteran and have spent my time fighting to keep our petroleum addiction going strong. Bicycles and Pedestrians BELONG on all of or roads.

It disgusts me to no end to have to go to Fulton County (Roswell) to enjoy being able to ride safely and respectfully-What makes Cobb County, (Marietta)my home so dangerous for Cyclists? Why?

Why should I as a Law Abiding, Tax Paying Veteran feel threatened and endangered to transit my own streets and roads? I ask you to give me a good argument you are willing to engage in in a public forum to tell me and the rest of the citizenry why Bicycles and Pedestrians do not safely belong and are allowed to enjoy their roads with equal Rights of Way as Automobiles? What and Why are Automobiles considered superior? Again, Give us a valid argument to engage in civil discussion with.

I remain Humbly and Respectfully at your Honorable Service,

William Beverley-Blanco

LTC, USA (Ret)

Citizen of Cobb County, Georgia

United States of America

Home of our Constitution which enshrines the Bill of Rights of all Citizens

TTT555
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August 20, 2013
"If you build it they will come" rings true for bike lanes, pedestrian improvements, etc. I live near Lower Roswell and the widening of the road and addition of a multi-use path has resulted in lots more people out running, walking and riding. It is gratifying to see your neighbors exercising, enjoying time with their families and simply being out of their car or house.
D Farlow
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August 20, 2013
Thank you Mr. Seconder for your insightful letter. Those who initially object to transportation dollars being spent on walking and bicycling projects almost always have a change of heart after completion of such projects. The overall enhancement to our communities is immeasurable. It's truly a win-win for everyone!

Michel Phillips
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August 20, 2013
(1) Amen.

(2) Biking and walking reduce obesity. This is good not only for individuals, but also for taxpayers, as it reduces healthcare and disability costs.

(3) "Overall we find that bicycling infrastructure creates the most jobs for a given level of spending: For each $1 million, the cycling projects in this study create a total of 11.4 jobs within the state where the project is located. Pedestrian-only projects create an average of about 10 jobs per $1 million and multi-use trails create nearly as many, at 9.6 jobs per $1 million. Infrastructure that combines road construction with pedestrian and bicycle facilities creates slightly fewer jobs for the same amount of spending, and road-only projects create the least, with a total of 7.8 jobs per $1 million." http://www.peri.umass.edu/236/hash/64a34bab6a183a2fc06fdc212875a3ad/publication/467/
anonymous
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August 20, 2013
When a quasi-governmental agency or interest group wants to change a policy or do some social engineering, the first question they ask themselves is, "How do we get buy in?" Of course, they come up with something people want, usually free, and then they can go forward with their larger plan. In this case, people who love to ride bikes are being duped into believing they're going to get something for free. Well, nothing is for free. STrings attached much? Absolutely yes.
Maurice Carter
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August 20, 2013
The times are definitely changing. You can see anecdotal evidence on any street, just by the increasing number of people biking and walking. But, you an see it in the numbers as well. Americans are driving less; miles traveled annually per person by car have dropped every year since 2004 and are currently at 1996 levels. Millennials (those born 1983 to 2000), drove even less — declining by 23 percent over one eight-year period.

There is a time and a place for every form of travel. But, for the shorter trips, we need to make safe places for those who can and will walk or bike. It's a win for everyone.
Celeste Burr
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August 20, 2013
Great letter Joe!

Car sales are going down in this next generation of drivers because they want to be in a more livable, bikeable communities. We have to start changing the way we think and live to accomodate the needs/issues of the next generation and our grandchildren. Giving people more pedestrian and bike friendly communities is the way to go.
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