Bikers confusing Cobb with Copenhagen
by Pete Borden
September 09, 2013 11:14 PM | 3329 views | 26 26 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“Honey, take your bike, drop Susie off at her dance lesson, then go to Kroger and get a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs and a quart of half and half. Oh, and since you will be right there, stop at the cleaners and pick up your shirts.”

Sound ridiculous?

Of course it does, but if one puts any credence in the words of certain biking groups, the Complete Streets gang and the various interests pushing the Johnson Ferry Corridor plan and others like it, that type of conversation could very well be going on in Cobb County in the near future.

In a recent letter published in this paper, a local cycling enthusiast attempted to make a case for adding bicycle lanes to Johnson Ferry Road, which would entail narrowing the automobile lanes, or purchasing expensive right-of-way, at taxpayer expense, on the pretext that such would be good for business. He failed to explain how making it more difficult and time consuming to get to the places of business would actually help the business.

He stated, as if proving his case, that most trips are less than 2 miles in length. What he did not divulge is the purpose of these trips. Very few of them have a goal which could be accomplished on a bicycle. What he fails to embrace is the simple fact that, to most people a bicycle represents recreation, not transportation.

In response to a recent letter from the organizer of the Complete Streets initiative, one blogger wrote, “Let’s get this straight. You are going to narrow the automobile lanes, on a major artery, then you are going to add bikes and walkers to the mixture and this is going to ease congestion, speed up traffic flow, and increase safety.”

Heck yes! Sounds reasonable to me. Now about that beachfront property outside of Phoenix, when do you want to close the deal?

The Johnson Ferry Corridor plan is all about adding bicycle lanes, public transportation and walking paths, presumably in addition to the sidewalks which already exist for the purpose of walking, and which are, for the most part, some of the more under-utilized amenities in Cobb County. I walk Johnson Ferry Road daily, either from Lower Roswell south a couple of miles, or north for two or three miles. I rarely encounter more than one or two walkers, joggers or runners.

Based on personal experience, if the number of pedestrians quadrupled because of new walking paths, it would hardly be worth the expense of constructing them.

The real splinter in the banister would be the introduction of public transportation lanes. Can you just imagine the effect on Johnson Ferry traffic when we add cyclists, joggers, walkers AND a bus that stops every few blocks?

I am all for biking, walking, jogging, running, pogo sticks and skateboarding, anything to get people off their backsides and into some form of exercise. But, we need to be realistic and practical about it. Most people, such as me, with a desire to walk/jog/run or cycle will find a place to do it safely.

Bike lanes and walking trails are great, in their place. However, their place is not on a heavily travelled main traffic artery which is the choice means of getting to the expressways from our area.

The people pushing this ideal of a European-inspired relaxed lifestyle with people biking or walking to the mercantile areas, lounging for coffee at street side cafes, amid miles of identical decorative street lamps, matching benches and identical trash receptacles, do not realize that Cobb County and Copenhagen have little or nothing in common.

When most European cities were built, the roads needed only accommodate walkers or the occasional ox cart or horse-drawn dray. Not so with Cobb County, particularly the suburban areas such as those found adjacent to the Johnson Ferry Corridor.

We no longer live in an environment where bikes are modes of transportation. The fantasy of most people biking to work is unrealistic. In most cases, the distance is too great, and even where it is not, how many days are there when it is not too hot, too cold or not raining? Besides, how many of us have jobs we can adequately perform in the same clothes in which we just rode 3 miles on a bike?

Leave the bike paths and pedestrian trails to areas where they fit. Johnson Ferry Road is not that place.

Pete Borden is a retired masonry consultant in east Cobb.

Comments
(26)
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Big cities "get it"
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September 21, 2013
Guido need to wake up, travel a bit, read the news, and open his mind to change! Guido asked for evidence of big cities that have adopted the bike as a way of life. Well here you go: NYC http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bicyclists/bicyclists.shtml

Here is a list of bike lanes installed in NYC since 2009. http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bicyclists/lane-list.shtml

NYC DOT statistics on bike use: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bicyclists/bikestats.shtml#statistics

surf this site and you might just realize that your ideas are old, you are stuck in your auto first mindset, you are missing the world that's changing around you and might need to realize that adding more auto lanes only leads to more congestion. The desire and ability for people to move via bicycling and walking is sweeping this country and Cobb DOT needs to wake up! Just Google "bicycle commuting in XX" you name the big city and you will see (and learn you are quite wrong) of the growth of commuting by bike there. Try Washington DC, Indianapolis, NYC, Boston as examples of just a few.
Huhduh
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September 17, 2013
Old man hates bicycles, compelling stuff. Will there be a sequel? Cobb County Get Off My Lawn?
Michel Phillips
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September 13, 2013
We get more of whatever we subsidize.

We have subsidized cars (free roads, free parking, tax breaks for oil companies) to such an overwhelming extent that we burn hours of our irreplaceable time sitting in traffic; and lose more time off our lives to respiratory disease, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.

Subsidize bike infrastructure and we'll get more cycling. They will be healthier and, because they take up less road space per person than people in cars, will eventually ease congestion.

This would work even better with zoning that encourages mixed-use development.

We get more of what we subsidize. We have subsidized our way into traffic hell already. Let's stop doing that.
EnerGT
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September 13, 2013
For those that are keeping score, this is 2 ops against the bike lanes and 1 pro. But to clear up a few points that Mr. Borden makes:

1. The pro bike-lane op asked for no additional tax payer dollars. He simply asked for each of the 3 lanes to be narrowed from 12 feet to 11 feet to accommodate a 3 foot bike lane on each side of Johnson Ferry. There are many major roads in Cobb with 11 foot lanes as standard so he is not requesting a major or unsafe shift. Sandy Plains is an example of road in the area with such a lane.

2. Have you ever seen somebody walking in the bike lane on Sandy Plains? I haven't. They stick to the side walk which are illegal for bikes in case you didnt know. And I also haven't been stuck behind a biker moving at 15 mph until I could move switch to the next lane to avoid. So what part of giving a biker his own lane is supposed to slow down traffic?

3. Most bikers are older and have kids to answer another poster's question. There are blue & red bikers who want to get out if their cars more and have a safe mode of transportation. This is not a European idea. It is not a political differentiator.

So little to no cost and only a positive impact to traffic. What are the negatives again?
Joe Seconder
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September 13, 2013
Mr. Borden -- To date, we have 488 people who respectfully disagree with your position: https://www.change.org/petitions/cobb-county-department-of-transportation-commissioners-create-bikeable-shoulders-on-johnson-ferry-during-repaving
Billy Madison
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September 12, 2013
I was going to write out a response to Mr. Borden's essay, but there's already a youtube video that succinctly articulates everything I have to say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE8HAAhVtos
Miriam H.
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September 12, 2013
If Mr. Borden actually spent some time in Copenhagen he would know that the locals are very good at transporting children, groceries, etc. on bikes. The bikes are constructed with carts and trailers and additional seats for young children. They are not racing bikes.

Having grown up in Cobb County and lived for years in European cities, I can only hope Cobb learns some lessons from Amsterdam and Copenhagen. They are far more pleasant and healthy places to live than the exurbs of Atlanta.
Twowheelssmyrna
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September 11, 2013
I ride a bike eight miles round trip everyday to work, sometimes seven days a week. I have done this for many years and love it. I don't know about Johnson ferry needing bike lanes because I don't live over there, but in the Smyrna area we need more bike lanes/paths. In most major cities bike lanes and paths are the norm. Here in the south folks don't want to pay higher taxes to pay for things like this so we don't have them. In the south people are too old fashioned to think a bike is a normal way to get to work, but in most major cities except ours it is normal, or even encouraged. One day people in the south will stop watching fox news and voting red, and wake up and smell the car fumes. But not anytime soon.
Guido Sarducci
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September 12, 2013
So, you ride a bike 8 miles to work every day, seven days a week and you love it. Good for you.

Now, what kind of job do you have? Also, can you name 20 more people in Smyrna who do that? Where do you think Smyrna needs bike paths that it does not already have them?

Also can you cite evidenc of the claims you make about all the other major cities that have bike trails everywhere you look? New York City? Dallas? Chicago? Kansas City? Kalamzoo? Just a couple will do, as long as you have supporting proof of the claim.

You are probaby correct that you do not know anything about Johnson Ferry Road, which happened to be the focus of Mr. Borden's remarks. so, I wonder why, or if, your remarks are germane. They sound mmore like a disgruntled Yankee taking another swipe at the south.
goodness gracious
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September 11, 2013
9 inches taken from each of 4 lanes that are 15 feet wide will make no difference in operating the average car or SUV that can be about 6 feet wide at the very most.

The bus already runs up and down Johnson's Ferry all through Fulton county, so adding stops in Cobb would change nothing there.

So what is Mr Borden's issue with Johnson's Ferry becoming a safer transportation facility for bicyclists? Nobody is saying he has to ride a bicycle himself!
Take a breath
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September 10, 2013
"However, their place is not on a heavily travelled main traffic artery which is the choice means of getting to the expressways from our area."

You recently used words such as small town and/or quaint to describe Johnson Ferry. Hard to reconcile the two.
Guido Sarducci
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September 11, 2013
Even you, sir, should be astute enough to ascertain that his earlier remarks about the small town atmosphere had to do with the environs in the area, as opposed to the traffic and the street itself, which this article addresses.

Even a "small town" has a "main drag".

Try to stay focused, instead of always wanting to criticize. It is better for the digestion.

Have a good day.
Samuel Adams
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September 10, 2013
Right on Borden. Now get ready for all the unicorn in the sky bike riders from Little Five Points to skewer your words. Because they don't like dissent. They don't want your opinion. Because they are the self righteous ones, more highly evolved than Cobb housewives with SUVs full of cargo. I'd love to know how many of the activist bikers even have children or dry cleaning.



dissent?
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September 10, 2013
The dissenters are the unicorn in the sky bike riders. Borden's letter to the editor is just "more of the same like we've always had because it works so well." You are correct in that nobody needs to hear this opinion. Why bother? It is the status quo. May as well put up a billboard reading "the sky is blue"
Guido Sarducci
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September 11, 2013
Hey "dissent?" are you one of those who believe that change always brings progress? Sorry, while it is true that progress almost always brings change, it does not work the other way around.

so, in many cases, the "status quo", which you seem to hold in such contempt, is the better of the choices.

I happen to think Borden made some pretty valid points, in trying to defend Johnson Ferry against the attack of the pogressive money spending change artists.
of course,Guido
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September 13, 2013
Guido, of course "you" happen to think "Borden" made some pretty good points, since "he" plagiarized what "you" commented on the MDJ's "Complete Streets Can Ease Congestion" story published Aug 28th. What I don't get is why you are not point out "Borden's" blatant plagiarism of "your" whole commment! Hmm, why is that....
Guido is...
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September 13, 2013
Pete

And Peter Parker is Spider Man
the real danger
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September 10, 2013
The real dangers on our roads are not bicycles or pedestrians. The real dangers are cell phone using drivers, drunk and/or high drivers including those Rx meds "for the pain," and although the media typically ignores this one until they plow over a parade, the biggest danger on the roads as our population grays is the elderly getting behind the wheel.

Everyone knows you start to lose your skills when you stop using them frequently, so when the old folks call it quits on the daily grind, they need to prove to the rest of us EVERY SINGLE YEAR that they can still drive.

We need mandatory annual relicensing of retirees starting upon their retirement. We need this NOW!
Amen to dat
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September 10, 2013
This is the biggest threat on JFerry every day.

Hope Borden knows when to call it quits with driving.
Guido Sarducci
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September 10, 2013
You just named off a list of types who are dangerous on the road.(cell phne users, drunk drivers, those on drugs legal or illegal) Then you make an erroneous assumption that because a person is retired, they are no longer capable of operating a motor vehicle. What an absurd assumption!

Why not require annual relicensing for everybody who has a cell phone, stops off for a cool one on the way home or takes prescription drugs? That should just about cover everybody.

You would have done well to keep shut, rather than attack middle age and older drivers on some trumped up baloney like you threw out.
relicensing
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September 13, 2013
Guido, do you confuse easily? It doesn't say retirees can't drive. It says retirees should be relicensed annually because skills decline after they are no longer used regularly.

Annual relicensing of driving for retirees would allow us to discover when elderly drivers have lost their ability to drive prior to their "i got confused" drive into a 4th of July parade causing multiple fatalities.

Do you want elderly people getting confused and driving into parades? I don't!

Retirees have plenty of free time. THey have all day, every day. They can spend a couple hours on an annual driving exam to help keep us safe.

Don't you want to keep us safe? I sure do!

We need to keep our roads safe by annual relicensing of retirees so we can catch their decline before their decline catches us.

One has to wonder if the author of this letter to the editor doesn't have his own decline in mind when he wants bicyclers kept off the roads he uses. Nothing else could really explain such strong objections. Otherwise who cares if people are bicycling in bicycle lanes that have zero effect on car traffic? Obviously if you don't want to bicycle, you just don't bicycle, so what is the REAL issue here? Has author already had a few close calls with his '98 Caddy?
Guido Sarducci
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September 13, 2013
@relicensing: Seems to me that you are the one with the comprehension problem. Nobody, including me, said anything about not letting retirees drive.

However the idea of relicensing one group of drivers because some of them cause accidents, does not make any more sense than relicensing everyone who owns a cell phone because accidents have been attirbuted to people talking on the cell phone.

Elderly drivers involved in accidents are much the same as drunk drivers involved in accidents.

As soon as it is determined that the driver is elderly, or drunk, that is the end of the investigation into the true cause of the accident.

As to your asinine assumption that retirees quit using their skills when they retire, you can stick that where the sun don't shine. Many retirees work on a contract basis at other jobs, and even some at the same job from whcih they retired. Others go into volunteer work, that requires their skills remain intact. You are making wild statements, that cannot be documented, in order to justify persecution of a class of people you obviously view as inferior.

According to a Statistical Abstract published in 2012, by the U. S. Census Bureau. drivers 65 and older were involved in 8.3% of the accidents, while drivers 19 and under accounted for 12.2% By my calculations, that means that 79.5% of the accidents involved people who are, allegedly, in their prime. In fact,drivers 25 to 34 years accounted for almost 20%, while the age group form 25 to 64 accounted for almost 65%.

Kinda blows your argument against elderly drivers out of the water doesn't it?

I will be awaiting your apology.
Always Rember
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September 13, 2013
Beware the Buicks!
relicensing
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September 16, 2013
Ah Pete, I guess you DO confuse easily. So let's move on.

You say "Elderly drivers involved in accidents are much the same as drunk drivers involved in accidents. As soon as it is determined that the driver is elderly, or drunk, that is the end of the investigation..."

Police are in charge of investigating traffic accidents, and you say they not only agree that elderly are a traffic hazard, but that the elderly's driving skills are so bad as to be on par with drunk drivers. Wow!

You said I think the elderly are "a class of people you obviously view as inferior." The truth is that "elderly" is a class of people fewer and fewer of us will ever see, and that is due to our use of cars and the resultant diabetes, obestiy, lung disease, smashed internal organs, cracked bones, cracked open heads, blood all over Johnson's Ferry and the hands of those who support adding more roads and more automobile lanes. I can only hope to be elderly some day, but as more and more and more cars are used, the less likely that becomes.

No apology for you, Pete! First you clearly do seem to confuse easily, and second you'd just forget and then write a letter to the editor demanding an apology from Guido!
Guido Sarducci
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September 16, 2013
@relicensing. Is that the best you can come up with? Answering my blog and addressing your answers to somebody named Pete, and then having the gall to call someone confused is the height of inane behavior.

If you want to think Pete and I are the same person that really shows how utterly confused you really are. Feel free to stay in your state of self-delusion.

By the way, I notice that you failed to even address the Staistical Abstract from which I quoted data to make your claims about elderly drivers null and void.

Too bad you have to resort to BS and twisting words to respond.
pete is confused
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September 18, 2013
Pete says "a Statistical Abstract published in 2012, by the U. S. Census Bureau. drivers 65 and older were involved in 8.3% of the accidents...

Kinda blows your argument against elderly drivers out of the water doesn't it?"

Well Pete, again you are so clearly confused, it's blinding me.

If 8.3% of the miles driven are by people 65 and older, then them causing 8.3% of the crashes would mean they drive like everyone else.

If, say, 2% of miles driven are by those 65 and older, then their causing 8.3% of the crashes would be an astronomical crash rate.

However, if 50% of miles driven were by elderly 65 and older, then their cause of 8.3.% of the crashes would mean they were excellent drivers.

So Pete, 8.3% means absolutely nothing at all about the relative safety of elderly drivers without looking at the percentages of miles driven by the elderly.

Old folks can't afford "these gas prices these days," so they barely drive. In that light, an 8.3% causality rate seems very high.

The other missing part of your so called Statistical Abstract (capitalized for unknown reasons but we'll go with it) is the severity of the crashes.

A high schooler rear ending someone to the tune of a new bumper is kind of different from a retiree plowing through a July 4th parade causing multiple fatalities because "I got confused."

Wouldn't you agree, Guido?
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