Category Archives: Advocacy

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 ).

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’.

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.

Things People Say

I swear. Whoever changed the law to where bikes are to be on streets were crazy and still crazy as hell. They are asking to be hit everyday. Stay on sidewalks. Or do not ride bikes on city streets at all.

In a recent online conversation regarding the use of bikes and how Georgia law applies to bikes on the sidewalks.

Now, there is a lot to unpack in these 5 short sentences, but it is probably worth it, because based upon the rest of the thread, quite a few people actually believe this stuff.

Whoever changed the law…

Well, this is fairly easy. No one changed the law. Bikes on the roads predates the advent of cars on the roads, and the law reflects that simple fact. Bikes were there first, and they retain the rights of use. In fact, paved roads actually came to be because of bikes and their riders, not because of cars and their drivers. Sadly, this tidbit is very lost on many drivers today, who firmly believe that, “Roads are for cars”.

They are asking to be hit…

No, they are using the roads they help pay for, as is their right. They are asking drivers to honor the laws and not hit them. This argument is like saying that the pretty young lady “asked to be raped by dressing too ‘sexy'”.

Stay on the sidewalks…

The sidewalks that are for pedestrians ( who were exiled there by the automotive lobbies that had to do something to prevent being exiled from cities in the 1910’s and 1920’s because too many non-car users were being killed by cars ). The sidewalks that are illegal in Georgia for cyclists over the age of 12 to use. This would seem to be a non-starter under current laws. For what it is worth, in the states where riding on the sidewalks is legal? they have not been any safer than riding on the roads. Florida for example is both sidewalk legal, and amongst the most deadly states to ride a bike in the US.

Or do not ride bikes on city streets at all.

“Get off of my lawn”. Thank you for your thoughts, but I will exercise my right to use the roads. I pay for them through property, income and sales taxes ( as well as owning a car, and a motorcycle ). Oh yeah, and with rising gas prices, I suspect I will not be alone.

All For One 100 – Please, register or donate

For this I am stepping out of character, and posting this not as OGRE Dru, rabid bike advocate, but instead as Dru, cyclist, spouse, parent, neighbor and friend.

Every big charity ride we do has a benefactor. Many of race for charities as well. Most of us also give in some manner through other venues. Sometimes we choose events based upon a charity organization, but as often as not, our choices are made based upon the course, the sag stops, or just convenience. Because of this, I generally choose NOT to promote most of the big events personally. All of us will find causes that are near and dear to us individually. I encourage everyone to support their cause.

My cause is us. This community of cyclists. You are all dear to me, and that means that I wish to donate and promote a cause that is directly supportive of us, and this community. This is the why of what I choose to do as OGRE Dru, rabid bike advocate, but also how I wish to donate and promote, as Dru, cyclist, spouse, parent, neighbor, and friend.

Which brings my to the All For One 100 and specifically the Van Purser Foundaton. A non-profit ( 501(c)3 ) that exists solely to provide assistance to other cyclists in times of need. In other words, it is a cause that is entirely about us, one supported by us. The All For One 100 is the primary fund raising opportunity the foundation has.


Please register or donate to this event

The ride is October 2, 2021 which is typically a good time to ride in Atlanta. The route(s) are all enjoyable, and since this is an event for us, and by us, they are local, often on roads we ride frequently.

The announcement from the Van Purser Foundation is below, and I just want to reiterate just how important I think this event is to me. Sign up, show up, donate, ride bikes, and enjoy the day. Know that in so doing you are helping all of us in your community of cyclists.

The board of the Van Purser Foundation is delighted to announce that its application for the ALL FOR ONE 100 charity ride has been approved by the city of Alpharetta and North Point Community Church. Starting at 7:30 A.M. on Saturday, October 2, 2021, from North Point Community Church, it will be a fully organized and supported event, drawing on the approach from its inaugural year of 2019.
Your participation in this worthy event and your generosity in supporting the Van Purser Foundation are greatly appreciated.

Register Now

Can Bicycles Pass Cars on the Right?

This is a surprisingly common question from drivers any time the discussion of bicycles on the roads comes up. Unfortunately, while the law is fairly clear on this, it seems to confuse a lot of drivers (and cyclists too). So, let us delve into this in detail and evaluate just what the law means and intends. There are several parts to this discussion, and a couple of different laws that come into play here, so we will need to deal with a few different situations to illustrate the issues.

There are really 3 scenarios that exist and raise this question.

Road with a Bike Lane

When there is a bike lane, there should be no doubt here. If a bike is using a bike lane, it is no different than a car in a seperate lane. It should move as far forward as the traffic in that lane allows.

That said, just because there is a bike lane present, a cyclist is NOT required to use it.

Road with a Shoulder

This is where the confusion begins. If there is not a bike lane, does that change things? Well, looking to the law we get a clear answer from 40-6-291.


(b) 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.

Meaning that where there is a shoulder a bicycle may use it, but they may not be required to use it in the same way as they are given the option regarding the use of a bike lane when it is present. Given that, yes, they absolutely can pass on the right using a shoulder as if it is a bike lane.

Road without a Shoulder

This case is the one where things become a little less clear. Part of the confusion stems, oddly enough, from the very same 3′ law designed to protect cyclists on the roads. For the purpose of this discussion we are going to use the version of the the 3′ law that becomes effective July 1st.

40-6-56. Safe distance defined; application to bicyclist.

(a) The operator of a motor vehicle approaching a bicycle shall approach the bicycle with due caution and shall proceed as follows:

(1) Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the bicycle if possible in the existing road and traffic conditions; or

(2) If a lane change under paragraph (1) of this subsection would be impossible, prohibited by law, or unsafe, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed shall be at least ten miles per hour less than the posted speed limit or 25 miles per hour, whichever is more, and proceed around the bicycle with at least three feet between such vehicle and the bicycle at all times.

(b) Any violation of this Code section shall be a misdemeanor punished by a fine of not more than $250.00.

When people hear and relate to the 3′ law, the common perception is that it applies to cyclists as well, and that a bicycle must also give a car ot truck that same 3′. The wording of the law however is quite clear. The explicit use of the “motor vehicle” designation as well as specifically addressing as a motor vehicle passing a bicycle and never in the reverse context.

So, no a bike does not have to give a car 3′ feet, and as there is an expectation of shared space, there is no prohibiton from a bike passing a car in the shared lane, any more than there is for a car to pass a bike, given that it can be done safely, and without leaving the roadway or paved portion of the shoulder, something that is a common occurence with cars going around left turning cars, which is, I might add, also illegal.

Things a Bike Cannot Do

All of that said, there are things that a bicycle cannot do to pass traffic at a stop control.

  • A cyclist cannot leave the road and ride down the grass/dirt area next to the roadway.
  • A cyclist (over the age of 12) cannot use a parallel sidewalk ( unless it is a designated multi-use path ).
  • A cyclist may not hold onto a vehicle in the roadway for stability or to be pulled along.
  • A cyclist may not create an impact with a vehicle ( ‘flip the mirror’ ) in order to get past.
  • A cyclist may not use a right hand turn lane to filter forward.
  • A cyclist may not use a right hand turn lane to give space to allow cars to pass.

Things a Car Cannot Do

There are a couple of common behaviors that are also not legal to be aware of.

  • A driver cannot move over to block a bike lane to prevent filtering.
  • A driver cannot move over to block a shoulder to prevent filtering.
  • A driver cannot allow a passenger to ‘door’ a filtering cyclist.
  • A driver cannot throw things out the window at a filtering cyclist.


The reality is, there are few situations where a cyclist cannot legally filter forward, and in truth, statistically speaking filtering forward is the safest and least disruptive model for cyclists to follow. However, there are caveats to this. Groups generally should not filter. Many cyclists will elect not to filter when they know that the far side of an intersection presents a pinch point that places them at an elevated risk for a crash.

Non-Car in a COVID-19 World

There has been a lot of discussion as to what is ‘safe’ in terms of outdoor exercise and transportation over the last few weeks with the implied threat of COVID-19 infections.

Unfortunately, early on in the onslaught of information, there was a lot of poorly done ‘research’ into the subject of how the disease was being spread, and people with little grounding in infectious diseases and epidemiology jumped into the fray adding noise to the signal. The result is that there remains a lot of misunderstanding about the risks of riding, running and walking outdoors during this time.

Now we are finally beginning to get some fairly balanced information from multiple sources that indicate a very different reality. One that is telling us that we need to stay active both for our health, and for our ability to combat the virus if/when we are infected. What we are also discovering is that running, walking and cycling, while practicing social distancing are good options, for both transportation and fitness.

Why you’re unlikely to get the coronavirus from runners or cyclists (

One of the aspects of all of this that is going to be a challenge as we reopen the world is a new dynamic. Public transportation, like busses and heavy rail are going to problematic. Ride sharing solutions like Uber and Lyft are also facing harsh new realities. Individual personal light transportation platforms are poised for a huge surge. That means bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters, e-skateboard, and many other options are suddenly rising to the forefront of both fitness and transportation worlds.

To such a degree, that the World Health Organization has made statements directly addressing this with an announcement that cycling is encouraged, both as transport and as a way of staying healthy during the global crisis.

In a statement the organisation said: “While cities around the world are introducing a broad range of measures to limit physical contacts to prevent and slow down the COVID-19 pandemic, many people might still have a need to move around cities to reach their workplaces when possible, meet essential daily needs or provide assistance to vulnerable people”

“Whenever feasible, consider riding bicycles or walking: this provides physical distancing while helping to meet the minimum requirement for daily physical activity, which may be more difficult due to increased teleworking, and limited access to sport and other recreational activities.”

Most of the United States infrastructure is ill equipped to handle this new reality, with few non-car transportation, non-public transit corridors. It will be important for cities and communities to quickly embrace this new reality, with short and long term plans to deal with the slow return of cars to the roadways mixed in with the broad reemergence of other non-car transpotation models.