Where would you like to go by bike in Marietta?
That’s one of the questions posed to citizens in a $25,100 study presented to the City Council last week.
The city commissioned Amsterdam-based management consulting company Arcadis to collect data on where residents want to travel by bike and come up with plans and costs for creating new routes.
“We looked at all the potential corridors that would move people to the places they would want to go and the different types of facilities that would be appropriate for those rides,” said city transportation engineer Marc Simmons.
The researchers found the Square is the spot most people could ride their bikes to, followed by Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, city parks, the Silver Comet Trail and grocery stores.
As to why they don’t go to those places by pedal power, residents said the Loop, Whitlock Avenue and Powder Springs, Church and Polk streets are the scariest routes to bike.
Using data from over 300 people polled at the Taste of Marietta festival and in an online survey, the company put together detailed maps of potential routes across the city.
“This is the first time we’ve had a comprehensive study of the entire city, looking and trying to connect those networks together,” said City Manager Bill Bruton. “There have been smaller studies and smaller areas that have been looked at, but this puts everything together.”
The combined cost of the top 11 projects proposed by the consultants exceeds $24 million but Mayor Steve Tumlin said there are no plans to spend any of that money at the moment.
“You could call it a professional wish list,” Tumlin said. “It’s a beautiful plan, but it is balanced by the reality of being able to come up with that much money.”
Tumlin said the data will be useful in a number of ways. First, he said when the state or the Atlanta Regional Commission is looking for projects to fund, it pays to have plans already drawn out.
“If you have a general proposal and a federal grant pops up or an ARC grant, those that are prepared have a much better chance,” he said.
Tumlin also said having a bike master plan written down will allow the city to incorporate bike improvements into other projects. For instance, he said they may decide in the future when a street is being resurfaced to add a bike lane at the same time.
He said the projects could also someday end up being funded by a 1 percent special purpose local option sales tax if citizens come out in force in favor of new bike lanes.
Over in the parking lot of the Silver Comet Trail Monday afternoon there were over a dozen parked cars with bike racks mounted on them. Folks in helmets and tight shorts were pulling in and out, unloading their bikes or strapping them back in for the ride home.
One bicyclist, Damon Willis III, a logistics consultant from Smyrna, said he wrote to his councilman, Tim Gould, last week to ask about more bike lanes in his city.
Willis said he thinks more bike lanes in the area would inspire more people to ride to work and for fun.
“I travel a lot, especially internationally through work, and one of the big glaring things that I see in Europe that we don’t have here, at least in Marietta, Smyrna, in this area, is really access to safe places to ride your bike,” he said. “I think if we had that, more people would commute on their bikes to work. The Silver Comet is a jewel in this area, and there are so many cyclists who live in this area.”