02

Blog

Human-Shield Bike Lane

When an Angry Face Emoji Just Isn’t Enough

If you ride bikes around Atlanta, chances are that you know Niklas Vollmer and Andreas Wolfe.  They’re some of the many people in town who seem to live on their bikes and can be seen riding everywhere.  While they both have their “day jobs,” folks in the cycling world know them for their place in the community: Andreas as an intern with Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and Niklas as the moderator of the hugely popular Bike Commuters of Atlanta group on Facebook.  

Atlanta Bike Advocates

[Niklas (L) and Andreas (R)]

Andreas and Niklas have no special training as advocates, they’re just regular guys who have gotten involved with something that they love, cycling and cycling life.   But when your passion involves sharing the roads with cars, there is bound to be conflict, hurt and anger. We see it so often that it makes you numb sometimes. Another headline about another person being killed by the actions of a driver.  We get angry. We get sad. Sometimes we’re so fed up that we write a comment on a social media post to let the world know that we’re not happy. Then, defeated, we move on to something else. 

The time comes, however, when an Angry Face Emoji simply isn’t enough.  For Andreas and Niklas, that time came a couple of weeks ago, when 2 things happened in succession on July 17th:

  • in the early morning hours, Marten Bijvank was killed while riding his bike on Roswell Road in Sandy Springs when a drunk driver ran him over; 
  • at around 10:30pm, William “Brad” Alexander was killed while riding on an e-scooter in Midtown when a bus ran him over.

The next day, after the weekly ride to protest lack of Complete Streets on Dekalb Avenue (another grassroots advocacy effort), Andreas and Niklas formed the idea to have a Human Protected Bike Lane on West Peachtree Street at the location where Brad Alexander had just been killed when he was hit and run over by a bus.  

The event was scheduled for just 5 days later. In that short a time, and primarily via social media, there was such a tremendous response to this event that every news outlet in Atlanta was on hand for the event, along with at least 10 police officers and one Atlanta City Council member. News helicopters circled overhead.   The protest wasn’t just a local sensation, it was picked up and shown on the NBC Nightly News national broadcast. 

Bike Advocate interviewed 

[Niklas with reporters]

Who else was paying attention?   Apparently Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, because on the day following the protest, she took the immediate action of halting any further permits to E-scooter companies.  Whether you think this will make or difference or is merely a misguided, knee jerk response, the fact is that the protest got the attention of the one person who is in the best position to help improve conditions for people who ride bikes, walk on sidewalks, or use E-scooters.   Whether she now follows through on the City’s promise to provide Complete Streets that are safe for all users remains to be seen, but it’s clear that she has seen the power of a citizen protest and has responded.

IMG 2589

[photo courtesy of Atlanta photographer Steve Eberhard]

Thanks to Niklas and Andreas’ initiative, the entire community stood up and shouted to anyone who would listen that the Status Quo will not suffice.   And Atlanta has taken notice. It’s clear that we’ve all grown tired of the mistreatment of bicyclists and pedestrians that has become the norm in Atlanta (and for that matter, everywhere).  It’s great to see that some people have taken it upon themselves decided to do something about it. Even better, this effort is not going to stop, it will only continue to gain momentum. In other words, we’re just getting started.   

Human Protected Bike Lane

[photo courtesy of Atlanta photographer Steve Eberhard]

What are you going to do about it?   What are you going to do to help improve the currently untenable conditions that Atlanta bicyclists face every day?  There’s a saying that “A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats” You can make a difference, all you have to do is get started.

 

Comments

Local bike shop Atlanta Bike Shop Mechanic
Bruce Hagen Nov 06, 2020

We have so many amazing local bike shops in the Atlanta Metro Area and in Georgia that it’s hard to single out any for the service that they provide, but here’s a short list of some of the shops from various parts of town and throughout the state. Eight Great Local Bike Shops in Georgia […]

Read More
Justice Ginsberg Bike Law
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Nov 03, 2020

Last month after Justice Ginsberg passed away, I went on one of those long solo rides to pedal things out.  I was hoping that time in the saddle would help settle the emotional torrent within me.  On one hand, I was feeling driven, empowered, and more motivated than ever to step things up a notch […]

Read More
Women on Bikes Rachael
Peter Wilborn Oct 11, 2020

Rachael Maney is the Director of the Bike Law Network and of the non-profit Bike Law Foundation. As most of you know, she has spent the last two weeks on these pages profiling 16 Women on Bikes leading up to yesterday’s inaugural Women’s Cycling Day. If you haven’t yet, read her profiles of and conversations with […]

Read More
Heather Jackson Dusk and Dawn
Rachael Maney Oct 10, 2020

If I didn’t know her parents well, I would put Heather Jackson on top of a podium so tall that it would be hard for her to climb down. (That’s not a dig at her height, by the way. There’s no one as mighty — she probably gets that from her mother, too.) Her mom, […]

Read More
Women on Bikes Timberley
Rachael Maney Oct 09, 2020

We tend to take for granted the things and people that are always around. Some of that is normal — an unfortunate part of being human — and some of it is willfully ignorant but can be remedied the moment we decide to see and appreciate more, and see them more clearly. The Invisible Cyclist […]

Read More
E681DE6B E273 4651 9881 1200592DFFE8
Rachael Maney Oct 08, 2020

When I began compiling a list of Women on Bikes who’ve made invaluable positive contributions to our cycling community, I realized how lucky I am to be in the unique position of aspiring to, knowing, and riding and working closely with so many different SPOKESwomen. The women attorneys in the Bike Law Network and the […]

Read More
Women on Bikes Charleston Moves
Rachael Maney Oct 05, 2020

It’s not everyday that a small non-profit organization — and by small I don’t mean in stature or accomplishment but rather the number of working staff that can be counted with two fingers — in Charleston, SC gets a U.S. Senator to help secure $18.1M from the Federal DOT for a bicycle and pedestrian lane […]

Read More
Women on Bikes Bike Law
Rachael Maney Oct 04, 2020

There’s something magical about this time of year for most competitive long course triathletes. While it’s an honor earned by/bestowed upon a relative few, there is a powerful experience to be had, even as a spectator or supporting member of the racing athlete’s team or crew. For the elite age-group participant, the Ironman World Championships […]

Read More
Women on Bikes
Rachael Maney Oct 02, 2020

It’s finally Friday! And while I have a very impressive line-up of SPOKESwomen yet to be featured over the next week, I want to give all of you a chance to nominate your favorite woman in the saddle and give her an opportunity to be recognized, celebrated, and rewarded with a Women’s Cycling Day gift […]

Read More
Load More