Group Rides and Ride Leaders

…. and the pain of watching loved rides slowly wither and die.

I hate even having to have this discussion, but it is very much overdue, and sadly, the people who need to see and hear this the most probably will not bother to read it, or believe that it applies to them.

Before I get into this discussion, I want to be absolutely clear about something:

_ If you show up to a group ride and you take on the task of leading a group even once a month, you are a rock star, and deserve the respect of those around you._

Now moving on from that. There are not enough of you, and because of that, there are rapidly becoming even fewer, because the respect is not being given, and the whining is only escalating. Rather than go hypothetical, or anything else, I want to take a couple of real world rides, provide some history, and explain what I am seeing as well as why I think these rides are in dire straights.

One of mine…

A little over 10 years ago, some of us decided that we needed an alternative to another local ride that had gotten too big and quite frankly, too dangerous because of it’s size and location. Spun that ride up with a local shop and a couple of friends at the helm of it. It was a success pretty quickly, but we understood our audience and successfully managed the most important part of the ride, week in and week out, and that was the ‘B and C’ level groups. If we were short leads, we sacrificed the ‘A’ level rides because frankly, anyone riding in an ‘A’ level ride should have the skills and experience to not require a ride leader week in and week out. Learn the route and self govern.

Years passed and the ride ran strong. Over the last year or so, it has started to fall apart. Part of this falls on me, as my own schedule to be there week in and week out has been compromised by some family things. Part of this falls on the simple fact that if I cannot be there, there is no commitment to ensuring that the ‘B’ and ‘C’ level groups have leads.

As of now, unless I can commit to being there, the only group that is likely to have any organization is the ‘A’ level ride.

One that is NOT mine…

Meanwhile, across town is another ride that is even larger, and has a similar timeline. That one has been far more organized than any of mine, but it too finds itself struggling with many of the same issues. It is the same 5-6 people week in and week out organizing and leading the groups, largely with the exact same people riding in the groups themselves.

Right now, that group is finding itself with leads choosing not to lead, or going to other places because if they show up they will be expected to lead, even if they are not really feeling it.

Disrespect and Whining

I do not know how to say this nicely, so I am not even going to attempt to soften this. If you are a regular at a group ride, and you elect not to occasionally lead or sweep, but just sit in, then you have given up the right to complain.

In addition, there is a respect problem, and it is deep, rampant and persistent, and most of the people involved have no idea that they are doing it.

I obviously lead a LOT of rides. When I lead, it is rare that I see the kind of disrespect applied towards me as I see applied to other ride leads, and it is a rare week that I do not get a private message, or pulled aside by other leads, or potential leads and asked about it. Why do riders not pass me, get in front of me, whine about the pace, or push the pace when I lead, and yet other leads, deal with ALL of those things often all on the same ride?

I have no idea really. Nor, do I really care about the why I don’t have to put up with it. I DO care about why others are having to put up with it. If you do not like the way a ride lead is leading a ride, you have exactly TWO real options. STFU, sit in and choose differently next time, or let the leader know, politely that you are going to split the group, and at the next regroup, let the group know, so that the group members can choose to follow your lead, or let you go. My advice to ride leads is that once someone pulls through and creates a split, they are now leading the group, and feel free to alter the route to create space between the groups for safety purposes.

In Conclusion

Every area group is currently in the process of collapsing due to a massive disparity between ‘people that ride bikes’ and ‘people willing to be stewards of their sport, learn the routes and step up and lead’.

IF you are interested in being a good steward of the sport, find one of the community leaders and talk to them about it. Learn, and take ownership. It does not have to be me. Talk to people like Eddie O’Dea, Richard Jones, Bo Reese, Phillip King, Robert Wilhite, or really any established leader.

If you are not willing to be a steward, that too is fine, but lower your expectations of your leads, and if you do not like something, you are welcome to HTFU, STFU or GTFO.

Why Are there so many bikes on ?

This is a question I hear a lot in local advocacy. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that this might actually be a good weekly discussion, addressing roads that this question hits often.

Usually, the answer is pretty straightforward, but after a couple of conversations with local law enforcement, it has become evident that straightforward is not necessarily obvious. As a cyclist myself, I find that I have explored almost every road in the areas I travel through, however, many, perhaps even most, drivers do not explore. They know one way, one road, and do not stray. When a road is closed by law enforcement for whatever reason, even law enforcement struggles to get these drivers to understand that there are alternate routes.

In the case of choosing a road to take a bike ride down, it is normal to evaluate the alternatives to find the safest, and lowest impact upon traffic routes. Then once a particular road is ridden enough, it becomes a preferred route by more and more riders, to the point that we have tools available to us that show exactly what roads are heavily used by other cyclists. The picture at the head of this article is from one of them.

This week, let us discuss one that is a near constant discussion point, and as It straddles a county line, and provides connectivity to a third county, it is one that two different governing bodies hear about.

Campground Rd between Hopewell Rd and Highway 9

This is arguably the single most heavily travelled road by cyclists in the north Fulton, south Forsyth, east Cherokee area. Why is that? The answer is, origin, destination and alternatives.


Most of the rides in the area that use this corridor start in either downtown Alpharetta or south Forsyth.


These rides travel a minimum of 30 miles, and many of them cover 60+ miles, which rules out any ‘greenway’ system in the region, and as such the rides typically work their way out to more rural, open roads to minimize the impacts upon traffic. In the case of most of these rides, that means getting out to east Cherokee, or north Forsyth ( and many times beyond both of those ).


Looking at the options for transit to and from the origins to the destinations, there are limited number of potential north and south corridors to connect these points. When evaluating those alternatives, there are some basic criteria.

  • Ambient traffic – we try to avoid the heavier trafficked roads
  • Sight lines – we try to avoid excessively curvy or hilly roads
  • Conflict point – we try to minimize the number of stop lights and red lights, as these are the highest risk areas
  • Elevation Gain – we try to avoid step inclines on busier roads as it creates a greater speed differential and higher conflict

With that criteria in mind, evaluating the alternatives, from East to West.

Bethelview Rd

Four lane, divided parkway, 45 mph speed limit, high volume, no bike lanes, no shoulders. Ambient speeds well above posted limits. 7.6 miles with 400+ feet of elevation gain. Good sight lines, but the speeds and volume make it high risk.

Post Rd

Two lane road, 45 mph speed limit, extremely high volume, no bike lanes, inconsistent shoulders. Ambient speeds either well above posted, or well below. Exceptionally sensitive to peak use volumes. 7 miles, 450 feet of elevation gain. Mixed sight lines, but speeds and volume make it high conflict.

Campground Rd

Two lane road, 45 mph speed limit, lowest volume of the alternatives, no bike lanes, limited shoulders, ambient speeds slightly above posted. Relatively consistent despite peak use times. 4.1 mile, 100 feet of elevation gain. Mostly good sight lines. Generally low conflict area. Signed with bicycle friendly signage.

Hopewell Rd

Two lane road, mixed 35-45 mph speed limits. Highest volume ( core north/south corridor for Cherokee residents to GA-400 ). Ambient speeds at or above posted. Extreme variations with peak usage. 8.8 miles, 650 feet of elevation gain. No bikes lanes, no shoulder. Extremely poor sight lines. Multiple inclines with gradients above 5%. Untenable.

Freemanville Rd – Wilkie Rd

Two lane, 45 mph speed limit. Moderate volume. Ambient speeds above posted. Moderate peak use impacts. 9.8 miles 700 feet of elevation gain. No bike lanes, limited shoulder. Generally good sight lines. Some steep inclines, mostly below 3% grade. Second best option, often used in conjunction with Campground one as out and other as return.

Birmingham Highway / Highway 372

Two lane, 45 mph speed limit. High volume. Ambient speeds well above posted. No bike lanes. Shoulders present but unusable due to rumble strips installed to assist drivers with staying in the lane. Mostly poor sight lines. Peak usage fluctuates heavily. 10.8 miles 700 feet of elevation gain. Generally avoided due to speed, rumble strips and poor sight lines.


Looking at the available alternatives, Campground Rd is the lowest impact upon the other road users, and it is often connected to the second best option in order to limit the exposure of out and back on the same route. Because of this, many groups will use this same corridor, as well as many individuals, use Campground as the safest and lowest impact corridor to go to and from Cherokee and north Forsyth areas. All with design and intent to mitigate and limit the impacts upon other road users.

Hope this helps, and in the future I will tackle some similar roads in the areas. ( Arbor Hill, Trinity Church, Lower Birmingham, for example ).

Monday Night Ride – Gate City – 06/12/2022


Please be aware that several of the area municipalities are doing some extra ‘education’ stops regarding stop signs and stop lights, as well as monitoring groups for abuse of the 2 abreast behaviors. Let us not be the poster child for bad behavior.


The ride is expected to be: ON

The weather looks to be dry, but absolutely scorching hot for bodies that have not had a chance to acclimate to the heat. Everyone needs to come prepared. Bring water, and some sort of electrolyte additive is strongly encouraged. In addition, because of the expected heat, the speeds should be down a little from normal.


This is an entirely volunteer ride, from organizing to group leads. We truly appreciate that this ride has become so popular and such a staple for so many riders. However, week in and week out, it is the same core group of volunteers leading rides, often sacrificing their own goals for an evening to make the group better.

This is our plea to everyone. Please consider leading a group, perhaps a group below your ability level once a month in order to allow the other volunteers chances to ‘ride up’ or even ‘just sit in’ some evenings. This will help prevent burnout, as well as allow this ride to continue to grow and remain the vibrant community that it has become.


An 18 mile Weekly Group Ride from the Gate City Brewing location at Canton St and Magnolia St in Roswell, GA.

The route is flat by North Atlanta standards.

Year round, an early ‘shenanigans’ loop at 5:15 PM and a later Recovery loop at 6:45 PM, with a reconvene at Gate City Brewing afterwards for drinks, and camaraderie as well as the occasional empanada from Ceviche.

The rules are simple:

  • ride safe
  • be respectful
  • harass another rider in the group and you WILL be dismissed and potentially publicly shamed

A simple reminder.

A bike, riding far to the right is not an inconvenience. It is a courtesy. To you the driver. If you cannot pass them safely and legally, do not pass them. When you do, you become the reason there are riders that will not keep to the right explicitly to prevent you from making a dangerous pass.

To be clear, both riders are doing as the legally are allowed.

The relevant law is 40-6-294 – Riding on Roadways and Bicycle Paths

The law itself is pretty clear. Paragraph A defines the “hazards to safe cycling” as used in the later paragraphs, but essentially states that anything that can be deemed a hazard, shall be.

Paragraph B and the associated subsections define the where to ride as “As Far Right As Practicable” which for clarity does not mean “Possible”. The subsection all define the exceptions to the need to keep far right ( above and beyond what the rider deems as practicable ). These exceptions are important to know, and while most should be common sense: turning left, traveling at traffic speeds and passing other vehicles.

However, there are two exceptions that need to be examined specifically.

There is a right turn only lane and the person operating the bicycle is not turning right

This is a big one, because it precludes an action that many, perhaps even most drivers believe is courtesy, and should be practiced by road cyclists. In essence, it says that a bicycle may NOT use a right turn lane to give up space to a passing driver if they are not turning. Worse, though is that under 40-6-291

Notwithstanding the provisions of Code Section 40-6-50, any person operating a bicycle may ride upon a paved shoulder; provided, however, that such person shall not be required to ride upon a paved shoulder.

A cyclist may ride on a paved shoulder, though they are not required to, but if that shoulder becomes a right turn lane, they have to move from the shoulder, into the travel lane until the turn lane ends.

This violates the single most important rule of road safety: Move Predictably.

The lane is too narrow to share safely with a motor vehicle

An exception that essentially undoes the foundation of “Far Right As Practicable”, because there are virtually no bike usable roads in the state that meet the width required to “share safely with a motor vehicle”.

How wide would that lane need to be to meet that criteria?

Well, to answer that question, we need to know the maximum width of a motor vehicle, which is 8 feet 6 inches. We also need to know the width of a bicycle, which is 2 feet 6 inches. That says that the absolute bare minimum would be 11 feet, but that does not address the legal definition of safe passing distance, which is 3 feet. The quick math shows 14 feet as the minimum width required to ALWAYS meet that criteria.

But extend that a step further. The average width of a motor vehicle in the US is a little above 6 feet, largely courtesy of the rise of SUV and truck sales, and assume that the cyclist is willing to ride on the white line reducing their effective width to 1 foot 3 inches. Even at those numbers, most roads have lanes that are just 11 feet wide.

Meaning that a cyclist is legally within their right to ride pretty much anywhere in the lane they need to create a safe space to ride.

Last but not least, there is NO stipulation for single file

In fact, the laws that establish two abreast as the legal way for bicycles to ride do not even provide a local override stipulation as the sidewalk use law does, so even the ‘single file’ signage that has been placed in some areas of the state have no legal basis, nor is there language to allow a county, city, or public works department to enforce single file on bicycles.

The entire law is posted below for your perusal.

a. As used in this Code section, the term “hazards to safe cycling” includes, but shall not be limited to, surface debris, rough pavement, drain grates which are parallel to the side of the roadway, parked or stopped vehicles, potentially opening car doors, or any other objects which threaten the safety of a person operating a bicycle.

b. Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, except when:

  1. Turning left;
  2. Avoiding hazards to safe cycling;
  3. The lane is too narrow to share safely with a motor vehicle;
  4. Traveling at the same speed as traffic;
  5. Exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction; or
  6. There is a right turn only lane and the person operating the bicycle is not turning right; provided, however, that every person operating a bicycle away from the right side of the roadway shall exercise reasonable care and shall give due consideration to the other applicable rules of the road.

c. Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on bicycle paths, bicycle lanes, parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, or when a special event permit issued by a local governing authority permits riding more than two abreast.

d. Whenever a usable bicycle path has been provided adjacent to a roadway and designated for the exclusive use of bicycle riders, then the appropriate governing authority may require that bicycle riders use such bicycle path and not use those sections of the roadway so specified by such local governing authority. The governing authority may be petitioned to remove restrictions upon demonstration that the bicycle path has become inadequate due to capacity, maintenance, or other causes.

e. Bicycle paths subject to the provisions of subsection (d) of this Code section shall at a minimum be required to meet accepted guidelines, recommendations, and criteria with respect to planning, design, operation, and maintenance as set forth by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and such bicycle paths shall provide accessibility to destinations equivalent to the use of the roadway.

f. Any person operating a bicycle in a bicycle lane shall ride in the same direction as traffic on the roadway.

What Makes a Good Ride Leader

Over the last few weeks a group of people that I ride with as well as do advocacy work with has had this ongoing ebb and flow discussing the idea of what makes a good ride leader. It turns out, this is a really hard thing to nail down, because the definition of a good ride, and how to achieve that is largely dependent upon the goals of the person evaluating it.

Perspective is a strange thing, because when you evaluate anything, your own perspective ultimately colors your evaluation. For example to a driver approaching a ride group, they might evaluate the ability of the ride lead based entirely upon how that encounter works for the driver. To them, a good lead would have the group single file, as far right as possible, and actively working to get the driver around the group as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, evaluated by a rider in the same group who is entirely safety focused, they would view these actions as elevating rider risks and thus be a bad leader. To a rider whose goal is to go as fast as possible on the ride a lead concerned about keeping a group together might be a bad ride lead.

It is a complex discussion, but one that is important to people who are out there organizing rides, working with communities on bike related advocacy, as well as being engaged in the communities themselves. Despite that, these discussions have kind of led me back to a single concept that seems to work well in almost all of the contexts:

_ Pride in the Product _

Conceptually, this single idea anchors everything else in the ‘what makes a good ride lead’ discussion. How you go about that, well, that evolves based upon the goals of the group and is based entirely upon preexisting expectations. When a ride lead sets and expectation, manages the group to meet or exceed the expectation, and engages with the group to get them to those expectations, they are taking pride and ownership of the end result, or in terms of the concept, the product.

In Practice – Some Practical Examples

Case: A Group – Speed, Drop Ride, Pace Line

  1. Set the Expectation: “This is a drop ride, and will have an average speed above 20 mph. Riders in the group will be expected to take their turns on the front, and we will utilize a rotating pace line”
  2. Manage the Group: “Start the ride with a nominal neutral warm up” by controlling the pace and letting riders get organized into the pace lines, communicating when the pace will start coming up. Once the warmup is complete, elevate the pace, and start the rotation by moving into the rotation yourself.
  3. Communicate: “Call out your intentions, when needed engage with riders in the group to encourage them to do their part”.
  4. Engage: “Check with riders as you rotate to ensure that the group is hitting expectations, and adjust based upon that feedback”
  5. Post Ride: “Follow up, check on riders that might have struggled or seem to need a bit of encouragement, even it that encouragement is to join a slower group for a few weeks to get stronger and rejoin”

Case: B Group – Pacing, No Drop

  1. Set the Expectation: “This is a no-drop ride, and will have an average effort equal to a ?? mph ride. Please make sure to communicate if a rider is struggling. We will have regroup points. ”
  2. Manage the Group: “Start the ride with a nominal neutral warm up” by controlling the pace and letting riders get organized into the group, communicating when the pace will start coming up. Once the warmup is complete, set the pace and identify riders in the group capable of pacesetting so that you can engage within the group.
  3. Communicate: “Call out your intentions, when needed engage with riders in the group to encourage them to do their part”.
  4. Engage: “Check with riders as you ride to ensure that the group is hitting expectations, and adjust based upon that feedback”
  5. Post Ride: “Follow up, check on riders that might have struggled or seem to need a bit of encouragement, even it that encouragement is to join a slower group for a few weeks to get stronger and rejoin, or to move up to a more pace appropriate group”

While these two examples exist, the pattern remains. Set the Expectation, Communicate, Adjust, Engage and Follow Up. Or more simply “Take Pride in the Product”

Real Conversations With Drivers

From todays local community group.

Does anyone know why it’s constantly soaked on the southbound 400 exit next to Texas roadhouse? I lose traction headed to work in that spot almost every morning

To which the polite and sane response ( this wet spot is the result of a natural spring / upwelling near the roadway ).

If you are spinning the tires, and your tires are not bald, then the odds are you are driving a little heavy footed, because that really is not enough water to a serious issue to someone driving sensibly.That said, on cold mornings, that can become a bit slick from icing, but the patch is so small that there may be some wheel slip, it should not be enough to cause any loss of control ( except maybe your bowels or bladder if you are prone to panic while driving )

At which point the original poster follows up with this gem of sensibility:

it hasn’t been an issue since its warmed up, but I saw it this morning full stream, so was curious. when it was cold outside I went in second and still went sideways right there.

A Few Thoughts:

  • You know it is a problem area of the road, and you still spin the tires every day? *
  • You drive a rear wheel drive, apparently manual transmission and do not understand the relationship of power to traction?
  • You see the water on the roadway, and still elect to drive through with a heavy throttle foot ( while turning the front wheels )?


Please turn in your keys, you are too stupid to drive.

What Are You Thinking?

This remains one of the questions that runs through my mind while I ride. There are so many decisions I see made that are firmly in the WTF category that I honestly have to resist the urge to knock on the window and ask these drivers what the thought process was that led them to a given choice.Today, between driving, and cycling for about 3.5 hours on the roads, I witnessed enough WTFery, that I am pretty sure I spent most of that time shaking my head in pure wonder, asking the same question over and over. What were you thinking?
## Jumping the Red Light to Turn Left
A red Honda Civic sitting opposite me at a red light. Left turn blinker on, but no left turn lane or signal. As soon as the light turns green, stomps on the gas and tries to get through the intersection before oncoming traffic. Almost gets hit by the Ford F-150 in front of me that sees green and gasses it too. The Honda is the angry one honking and shouting. What is the thought process here? All I can come up with is this…

  • Running Late and felt the risk was worth the 15-30 seconds saved.
  • Failed to understand that the left turn does not have the right of way.
  • Believed that the oncoming traffic would see the left turn and give way.
  • Was too busy on the phone to realize the risk being taken.

Passing into the Roundabout

This one I see way too often, but I still cannot figure out the thought process that leads to it. Every roundabout in this area has curbed splitters, ‘road furniture’ to guide traffic flow and the ingress / egress from them. Now, I was on the bicycle, so I assume the thought process is something along the lines of must pass the bicycle, because it is slow. The problem here is that no car, not even the highest end sports cars are going to traverse the direction changes of a roundabout as fast as a bike. We all know that the shortest distance is a straight line. A 1” wide tire can go a LOT straighter and faster than a 9’ wide car.

Sadly, over and over again, I see this. Pass at speed, jam the brakes, then freak out because the bike you just passed is suddenly closing hard and fast and within inches of your bumper.

I’ve got nothing. I’d love to hear what other think…

Passing into Traffic Calming Devices

In a city setting, particularly a pedestrian dense area, the use of traffic ‘calming’ islands has become pretty standard, especially in areas with parallel parking. These stretches of road tend to be narrow, and low speed. In this particular instance, 25mph zone, high density pedestrian in an entertainment district. Driver decides to pass a bike at a high rate of speed, into a traffic calming island. Misjudges the distance and space, and has to brake hard to not hit the traffic island, dodging in well within 3’ of the bike, placing everyone at risk, for no gain.
## Turning Left, into oncoming traffic, into a left turn lane 100’ up the road
This one pretty much sums itself up, and honestly, I have no real thoughts other than ‘my time is important and the 10 seconds saved have more value than lives, including my own’.

Pedestrians Have The Right of Way

… or do they?

I often have discussions with people regarding road use, and who has the right of way. Not always in the context of bikes though, as I and many OGRE’s are also runners, walkers, and generally like to get out of the car from time to time. One of the common themes in these conversations is the concept that a pedestrian ALWAYS has the right of way.

What if I told you that in Georgia, this is not only not true, but arguably, based upon the law as written, the pedestrian on Georgia roads almost never has the right of way?

I must be crazy right? Well, let us take a look at Georgia’s Pedestrian Law, 40-6-96.

2020 Georgia Code Title 40 – Motor Vehicles and Traffic Chapter 6 – Uniform Rules of the Road Article 5 – Rights and Duties of Pedestrians

§ 40-6-96. Pedestrians on or Along Roadway

The original version of this law dates back to 1953, and while it has been altered in small ways over the years, it really has not materially changed in that time.

So, with that in mind, let us dive right into the content.

a. As used in this Code section, the term "pedestrian" means any person afoot and shall include, without limitation, persons standing, walking, jogging, running, or otherwise on foot.

So, a pedestrian is someone on foot, and does not include bikes, electric scooters or other ‘personal mobility devices’. Those items find themselves in other categories, and are not covered by this law.

b. Where a sidewalk is provided, it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to stand or stride along and upon an adjacent roadway unless there is no motor vehicle traveling within 1,000 feet of such pedestrian on such roadway or the available sidewalk presents an imminent threat of bodily injury to such pedestrian.

Well, this seems pretty clear and straightforward. If there is a sidewalk, a pedestrian must use it, unless it is in such poor condition that using can be established to have an immediate risk of injury, with the exception that there is no motor vehicle within 1000 feet, you can move off the sidewalk, but must return if a motor vehicle enters that space.

In short, if there is a car nearby and a sidewalk, you have to be on the sidewalk.

c. Where a sidewalk is not provided but a shoulder is available, any pedestrian standing or striding along and upon a highway shall stand or stride only on the shoulder, as far as practicable from the edge of the roadway.

And, if there isn’t a sidewalk, but there is a shoulder, you can use that, but not the roadway, and you have to stay as far from the road as you reasonably can.

Or, in more direct wording: There is no sidewalk, but still stay out of the way of a motor vehicle.

d. Where neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder is available, any pedestrian standing or striding along and upon a highway shall stand or stride as near as practicable to an outside edge of the roadway, and, if on a two-lane roadway, shall stand or stride only on the left side of the roadway.

Also, absent a shoulder, you need to travel facing traffic ( on the left ), as far to the edge as reasonable.

Or, yeah, you have no facilities, but still, stay out of the way.

e. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, any pedestrian upon a roadway shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

But, no, seriously, you do not have the right of way, and since this passage use the generic vehicles instead of the specific motor vehicles, that means even a bicycle has the right of way over a pedestrian on the roadway.

f. No pedestrian shall enter or remain upon any bridge or approach thereto beyond the bridge signal, gate, or barrier after a bridge operation signal indication has been given.

Well, this seems reasonable right? Wouldn’t want to be walking on a bridge that is closed for a reason..

g. No pedestrian shall pass through, around, over, or under any crossing gate or barrier at a railroad grade crossing or bridge while such gate or barrier is closed or is being opened or closed

Again, seems reasonable, pedestrians and trains rarely mix well.

So, when DOES a pedestrian have the right of way in Georgia?

Well, 40-6-91 tells us that when in a crosswalk they have the right of way, unless of course they enter the crosswalk at a point when it is “is impractical for the driver to yield.” Which is pretty subjective, and witnessing driver behavior on the roads, the wording impractical is applied in a rather generous manner.

Then of course, there is 40-6-92, which tells us that if a pedestrian is crossing the road without a crosswalk do not have the right of way, and if they are crossing a road where there are crosswalks provided outside the crosswalk, they do not have the right to cross the road at all outside of those crosswalks.

It seems that, NO, Pedestrians do not have the right of way in Georgia

No, they certainly do not, nor are there any real protections for them on Georgia’s roads. However, a couple of cities have taken the first steps in addressing that. Dunwoody being there first to enact a Vulnerable Road User Ordinance. Brookhaven being the second. Hopefully more cities will get these passed soon, and apply pressure upon the state to address its broken pedestrian laws as well as adopt a strong Vulnerable Road User Law itself.

This is not enough though

While these laws being addressed are a great step, they do not address the core problem. They create punishments for those that fail to be safe around other road users, but, the core issue remains the complacency of drivers and the assumption that they have the right to travel at high speeds without due regard for other road users, not just the vulnerable ones.

This is a cultural problem that has to be addressed as well, and no amount of VRU law is going to fix that. That has to be fixed by people like us, every time we see people driving irresponsibly, we have to call it out, point it out and help get it corrected. Only then will our roads begin to be safe for all users.

A Car is Necessary, or is it?

For years I have heard that “You cannot live here without a car” any time the subject of bike and pedestrian infrastructure is discussed, including the concept that a road is in fact bike and pedestrian infrastructure, much to the typical drivers consternation. With “here” being a dynamic thing that generally applies to wherever the discussion is taking place, be it urban, suburban, rural, or no mans land. It is an idea that I as someone that believes in non-car infrastructure usually reject out of hand, but, is my objection really supportable?

In order to understand my objection, we really need to understand the reasons that support the idea that a car is necessary.

  • Every place we need to go is too far away
  • This is not Europe where everything is close
  • We need to carry passengers
  • There is no public transportation
  • It would take too long without a car
  • The weather makes it impractical

While there are many other reasons that get thrown out there, these are the core arguments that we hear used most often. Reading through that list, it seems to be reasonable right? but do they hold up to scrutiny? Before going point by point, let us take a moment to look at some hard data numbers that are relevant.


Arguably the easiest metric to evaluate is the commute time and distances that exist today. These distances and times represent what the average person has deemed acceptable, and as such would seem to offer a good reference point.


The United States on average accepts a 26 minute 36 second commute time, each direction. Dedicating nearly an hour a day to the process of getting to and from a job. Since much of my personal advocacy is in the state of Georgia where that number is 28 minutes 24 seconds, the evidence is that here, an even longer number is acceptable.


While the time is probably more relevant, the distance has some value as well. In the United States, the average commute distance is 16 miles each way. Interestingly, one of the common argument, about how things are more spread apart than Europe, where bike and pedestrian commuting is more widely accepted would lead you to expect shorter commute distances, and yet the average in Europe is 28.5 km, or 17.7 miles in Imperial measurement.

Going Other Places

But what about other important places, like a grocery store? According the the national association of grocers, the average distance to a grocery store is just 4 miles. Schools tend to vary by age group, but even at the high school level the national average trip is just over 6 miles. In fact, the average distance of all combined trips, like errands, meals, entertainment, et cetera is just 9.4 miles.


In theory, the biggest advantage to a car is that it can carry more than a single passenger, and yet 85% of the cars on the roads are single occupancy. That said, this statistic is a little skewed, because what it fails to account for are trips that have more than one occupant for part of a trip. However, these partial trips of multiple occupancy could be offset by non-car transportation, or public transportation if it was offered.

Public Transportation

Sadly, yes, public transportation is severely limited in availability and coverage in the US. So much so that it currently accounts for about 5% of all commuting. To put that into perspective, the bicycle accounts for 6% of all commuting in the United States. This lack absolutely factors into the perception that a car is required.


Speeds are really where the differences start to show up. While a car is capable of much higher speeds than almost any alternative, the realities of traffic, and the start and stop nature of most of our trips, the real average speed is about 32 mph. Compared to that of an e-bike at 20 mph, or a casual bike at 12 mph, or walking at just 3 mph, the speed certainly does make it easy to think of a car as a requirement.

But is it a requirement?

This is the crux of the issue though. There is nothing in the above data that conclusively supports the car as a requirement. The data presents a case that no, a car is NOT a requirement. We accept a nearly 30 minute transit time. Meaning that for anything less than 6 miles, a bike is acceptable in terms of speed. We do not need to carry passengers 85% of the time, so the car is not needed for those trips. So, really, where is the need? why is it a requirement? The answer is: it is not a requirement.


This is the real answer, and this is completely supportable. A car is not a requirement, but it is a convenience. A car makes it easier to go places quickly, and easier to go places further away. Less planning is required, and of course, it removes many concerns about the weather conditions. But these things are all about convenience, and not about requirement.


As per almost any discussion, there are exceptions, outliers that change the equation. There are people for whom the alternatives are simply physically prohibitive. Be it walking or cycling, or even public transportation, there are simply some people that have enough physical challenges that these simply are not options. There also people who would benefit from getting out of the car and engaging alternatives, but who simply cannot consider it due to the fears implicit in the idea that roads are for cars, and that a car is a requirement to live here.


So yes, my objection is fully supportable, and arguably, for the vast majority of the population, the assertion that a car is a requirement really is not supportable from a data perspective. This does not mean that I think we should take away cars, or even restrict them. What it means is that we need to reassess how we as a culture view alternatives, and our infrastructure, and do away with the entire presumption that a car is a requirement, or that a car has a primary right of use to our roadways. We need to return the idea that our roads are pedestrians first, bikes and other lightweight, low speed vehicles second with motor vehicles a distant third in terms of right of way, and right of use.

A Bike Lane is not a response to bike transportation issues

Bike Lane proposals are not about making bicyle throughput better on a road. Bike Lane proposals are about creating space outside of the travel lanes for bikes. It is not a request by cyclists, for cyclists.

Depending upon perception, a Bike Lane is a request to create a safe space for bikes away from motor vehicless, or it is a way to push bikes out of motor vehicle lanes. Either way, it is entirely about making it easier for motor vehicles to operate on a road, and has nothing to do with improving bike transportation and everything about to do with motor vehicles.

If we are honest about this, a bike lane is a placebo to placate drivers, and riders who fear drivers. The real solution to our transportation issues remains, fewer cars, not more, nor automation of them. However, we still need bike lanes. Why? because in order to achieve, fewer cars to make the travel lanes safe and sane to share, we need more bikes, and to get more bikes, we need the placebo that is bike lanes.

So, when the question of bike lanes comes up, everyone needs to get on board because they benefit every road user in some manner or form.