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Atlanta Highway Collapse Creates More Dangers for Local Bicyclists

The recent collapse of a large chunk of interstate highway in one of the most heavily driven areas of Atlanta, Georgia has caused an unprecedented panic on our roads. The powerful images of the massive fire and bridge collapse were quickly followed by finger pointing, scapegoating and lamenting that Atlantans car-dependent lifestyles were about to be severely disrupted.

What followed was an investigation that resulted in the arrest of 3 people who allegedly set fire to some conduit and other materials that the Georgia DOT had stored under a highway overpass for years. The resulting calamity was well documented. Atlanta’s lack of a well-developed public transit system was immediately apparent as MARTA parking lots were overwhelmed and filled up before 7 am on the following Monday.

Atlanta Highway Shutdown Help Bicycle Commuting
A solution that was obvious to many yet alien to most emerged: bicycles. The closed stretch of road in the area surrounding the collapse became the best dedicated stretch of bicycle infrastructure that this city has seen. Although temporary, the closed off areas of major traffic arteries have been a boon for cyclists. People who have never before commuted to work on a bike have gotten out of their cars and taken to two wheels. How great!

New Traffic Creates Distracted Drivers

A serious problem has emerged, one that has the potential to be very dangerous to anyone who rides a bike. In the wake of the interstate collapse, many drivers who are unfamiliar with city streets and neighborhoods are leaving the highway and using cell phone apps like WAZE and Google Maps to navigate their way. In the process, drivers will have their attention locked to their phones, distracting them from the task of safe driving. Combine that with being blindly led by an app through unfamiliar neighborhoods and you have a recipe that can be toxic to bicyclists.

Bruce’s PSA of the Week

As you ride around town in the coming months, particularly in areas that are seeing an increase in car volume due to the highway closure, please be hyper vigilant and watchful for drivers who may be more distracted than usual, and who put all of us at risk by their bad behavior.

Comments

Brendan Kevenides Jun 04, 2018

At sea a boat under power must give way to a more vulnerable craft.  The law requires that a power driven vessel give way to a sailing vessel.  A sail boat must give way to a craft engaged in fishing. These simple rules are consistent with the maxim that with greater power comes greater responsibility. […]

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Commuter Bike
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Recently, my wife and I moved into a new home that’s closer to my office, which has allowed me to start commuting by bike.  I rode my bike to and from my office 4 consecutive days before my schedule forced me back into the car. My hope and plan is to commute by bike at […]

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Pat Brown May 10, 2018

Strength, ambition, and courage are just a few words that come to mind when we think of Anthony Lue.  Growing up, Anthony enjoyed playing competitive sports such as baseball, volleyball, basketball and mountain biking, but his true passion was discovered on his high school track.    After winning gold for 100m hurdles at the provincial championships […]

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Lauri Boxer-Macomber Apr 30, 2018

Following a horrific bicycle crash in 2016, Dr. Michael Rifkin has become a new type of bicycling advocate — one who is deeply committed to ending distracted driving. Read his op-ed on Making Distracted Driving in Maine Taboo here. Dr. Rifkin’s piece reminds us that we can be distracted by our phones and other electronic devices even […]

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Brian Weiss Apr 26, 2018

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Atlanta's Bike Czar
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Joe Piscitello Apr 04, 2018

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Lauri Boxer-Macomber Apr 03, 2018

The first issue is that many bicycle crashes are not being reported into the State of Maine Crash Database, which leads to incomplete and inaccurate state-wide crash reporting data and arguably also leads to uninformed priority setting and budgetary decisions.  The crashes that are unreported and/or underreported on a state level are sometimes, but not […]

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Lauri Boxer-Macomber Mar 25, 2018

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Joe Piscitello Mar 20, 2018

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Danny Feldman Mar 15, 2018

I will not pretend to speak for all cyclists, but I feel pretty confident in saying that being passed by cars on the road is a primary area of concern. Most of the time there is no problem and the vehicle passes safely. Nevertheless, I personally have been “buzzed” more times than I wish were […]

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Bruce Hagen Mar 14, 2018

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