There's more than one way to get to work. Nelson Silverio is an HR coordinator in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering and depending on his daily circumstances he prefers to get to work by bike, bus, train, or, if absolutely necessary, by car. Here is what he had to say about being an alternative transportation user in Atlanta.
What is your main method of transportation and what prompted you to use it?
I bike and I use transit, and it's been a process to get to this point. When I started at Tech four years ago I mostly drove, because I was living in Marietta. After about eight months I moved to the Decatur area in unincorporated Dekalb, just south of the East Lake golf course. I live in a co-housing community and there are a lot of other people there who take MARTA, or take the bus. There are a lot of bikers there too, so they've been a big influence on me.
Within a year I was taking MARTA pretty regularly two to four days a week. About a year after that I got married and sold my car, partly to pay for the wedding, as well as to make us a one-car household. I knew it would push me to take MARTA and bike more. In the last two years I've really stepped up the biking. I'm a 15-20 minute car ride from work, or a 45-50 minute bike ride, or maybe an hour using transit and biking combined.
Which method do you prefer?
With the great biking improvements we've seen in Midtown and Downtown I've been trying to bike more. The Copenhagen Left that the city and Atlanta Bike Coalition (ABC)brought to Tech Square is great. There's also the path system, which is great in Atlanta. I still have to drive some days, and it hurts me to do it. I'd really rather bike as much as possible.
How comfortable do you feel riding in Atlanta traffic?
My confidence has definitely grown. I ride responsibly in traffic, and I don't have any concerns. About once a week somebody will honk at me, but it's usually because they don't know the rules. People tend to ignore the three-foot passing rule, especially when there's less traffic and cars can go faster. People go out of their way to pass me just so they aren't behind a bike, and then I catch up to them at the stop lights.
Have you saved money by biking and using transit?
Absolutely. My reasoning for doing this was partly altruistic. I really do want to help to save the planet and limit my carbon footprint. I try to do my best to minimize my impact on the climate. I also feel like I'm being an advocate by being an example. All of that being said, the money part of it has been great for me. With one car we're paying half of the insurance we used to, half of the car payments, less gas, and so on. It all adds up.
What are some examples of ways support has grown for biking in Atlanta?
I love that the city is committed to improving the bike infrastructure. I've been upping my interest in it and getting involved. I really try to promote bicycles and alternative transportation infrastructure. I've volunteered with the ABC and I've been going to meetings on campus for the Bicycle Infrastructure Improvement Committee. It's a student-led organization, and they just hired a company to come up with a campus bike plan. They're doing great things and have received a lot of support from GT Parking and Transportation. The plan will be a big step to show that we need more places to lock up bikes, or maybe bike shelters, and those sorts of things.
If people are interested in learning more about biking?
I actually handle the incoming J scholars for aerospace, and a lot of them are from Europe, China, or India, and they're used to bicycles being used for transport, so I help them out a lot with biking resources. What I usually recommend for them is the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, Bike GT, and the Parking and Transportation website. Those are all very helpful.
There's also the on-campus starter bike program that is supported by the ABC. A lot of them are found by housing departments, and they funnel them to ABC who fixes them up and then gives them to the starter bike program. Then every Friday from 4-6 pm next to the CRC they're down there with the starter bikes and other gear like really affordable helmets and locks. They can tell you everything you need to know to get started.
May 12-16 is Bike to Work Week and on May 16 there's a lunch on campus for bike commuters. It's a great way to meet other riders and share tips and shortcuts.
College of Engineering