Category Archives: Bike

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.

Origin

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

Destination

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 ).

Alternatives

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.

Conclusion

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 ).

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 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.

So…

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.

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.

Conclusion

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.

Gravel Tires vs Road Tires?

With the cooler temps, and more rides in the dark, many of area riders have switched to gravel bikes and gravel tires deal with conditions. What is the impact on the speeds and effort levels of those tires. Well, back in June, GCN did a really good video comparing the two tires on the same bike…

https://youtu.be/TCrL7yHPMqo

Some really good information in there.

Wednesday W’Intervals are go

Tonight’s Interval session is a go. Weather looks to be holding off until tomorrow, and the temps should be a bit warmer than the last couple of weeks. This week will be the 8 interval session, but we will add the Morris Rd Sprint as a 9th optional interval. No route change is needed, we just have not been sprinting that one.

Next week we will extend to a 3rd lap, making it 12 intervals for those that want a little ‘more’, but that will be optional for those that don’t want the extra oomph.