As the observance of National Bike Month comes to a close at the end of May, campus bicycle enthusiasts will still put one wheel after the other in their work to make Georgia Tech and its surrounding areas more bicycle-friendly.
One of the Bicycle Infrastructure Improvement Committee (BIIC)’s summer projects is to install a rack in the center of campus that provides equipment for cyclists to make quick repairs. The group already received funding from the Student Government Association (SGA) and has purchased the equipment with plans to install on the northwest side of the Skiles Building.
An off-campus project that will enhance the experience of those cycling on campus from east of Tech Square is the planned change at the intersection of Fifth and West Peachtree Streets. Parking and Transportation Services, whose office also happens to be located at that intersection, is coordinating with the Midtown Alliance and Atlanta Bicycle Coalition on construction.
“It’s a very small but novel implementation for the city of Atlanta,” said Johann Weber, chair of the BIIC and a graduate student in public policy. “The volume of cyclists there makes it important even though it’s small.” At present, cyclists headed west on Fifth Street who would like to continue over West Peachtree must take a right, then immediately cross four lanes of traffic and take a left back onto Fifth Street to continue their course. The new intersection will enable a “Copenhagen left” that lets cyclists complete the same turn but in a way that is safer for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians (similar to that seen in this video).
To enhance law enforcement of bicycles across campus, the BIIC worked with the Georgia Tech Police Department during the spring to hold a bicycle safety class for its officers, refreshing them on Georgia bike-related laws.
“Some laws had changed last year, and some officers were not as comfortable as they wanted to be with state laws pertaining to cyclists, particularly with tricky infrastructure you might find on campus,” Weber said. All of the department’s officers took the class, reviewing state cycling laws that are enforced on campus; city ordinances do not apply on campus because GTPD law enforcement powers come from the state.
Looking to the fall, BIIC members are considering what could improve traffic at both Techwood Drive and Fowler Street as they cross Ferst Drive. Long-term, the group plans work with nearby neighborhoods to consider improvements in routes frequently used to and from campus.
“We got a lot of feedback from our Bicycle Friendly University application,” said Weber, referring to the award the committee earned this spring that named the Institute a Silver Bicycle Friendly University. “We're going to dig through that and produce a sort of guiding document for the committee that hopefully translates into the backbone for a master plan for the university.” Parking and Transportation Services also will conduct its next commuter survey this fall, which will give the BIIC new data to work with as it tackles future projects.