Interview of Pattie Baker by Bike Law Georgia's Maria Borowik
When I (Maria of Bike Law Georgia) called Pattie Baker, the first Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor, she was trudging through marshland on her bicycle on Alpharetta’s Big Creek Greenway. I pictured her in my mind with her bike, wearing her signature skirts, and mud on her sandals. Always on the go, the newly minted Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor is setting out on a new mission in her own backyard.
Pattie is the latest addition to the growing Bicycle Mayors and Leaders Network, a global initiative led by BYCS, based in Amsterdam. With Bicycle Mayors in places like New York City and Washington DC, it was about time for Metro Atlanta to have its own. Pattie’s long-time contribution to the bike riding community in Dunwoody, Georgia, where she lives, speaks for itself.
The Goals of the Bicycle Mayor
“I’m excited to collaborate with other folks, show the challenges we share around the world and how we are finding solutions”, Pattie said. As Metro Atlanta’s first Bike Mayor, she has three clear goals.
Goal #1: Shine a light on those doing the work to make it more welcoming for people on bikes throughout Metro Atlanta. “I want to create a conversation, tell their stories,”said Baker.
Since the beginning of her tenure, Pattie has been featuring local advocates like Greg Masterson, the president of MACC (Metro Atlanta Cycling Club) on her blog. Pattie is a proliferate blogger and author of five books.
Goal #2: Encourage people throughout Metro Atlanta to apply to become Bicycle Mayors of their cities and counties. Pattie talked about how people who are involved in their community today, are already in many ways doing the work of a Bicycle Mayor. “People can do it. If they have a vision, they can define their authentic path forward and bring their own skillsets,” Pattie said enthusiastically.
Bycs.org defines the 100+ Bike Mayors around the world as, “the face and voice of cycling progress in a city. They are independent catalysts that work to uncover the economic, societal, health, and environmental benefits that increased cycling can bring.”
Goal #3: Empower or assist more people, especially women and teen girls who are underrepresented in our public spaces as bicycle riders. This is one of Pattie Baker’s undisputed passions. She told me that as a mother of two grown daughters, she feels a responsibility to girls in the future and the need to make a world with more freedom and opportunity for them. As fellow women on bikes we swapped our own, all-too-common, experiences with harassment and sexism. “When we make it safer for women and girls, we make it safer for everyone,” she said.
Pedal Power with Pattie Basic Bike Skills Class is a favorite for girls learning how to ride and women getting back on their bikes. Usually, it’s instructed in person but in the midst of the pandemic it became the first bike class in the world that is taught via text using Arist. In addition to the girls that she has been teaching weekly in Clarkston, Georgia, Pattie made this announcement, “I’m offering one additional free class each month to a teen girl or woman who lives in each of the ten counties I that represent as Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor.”
“There is so much possibility in this movement”, she said referring to the Bicycle Mayors network. The tone of her voice let me know that she was also thinking of the possibilities for every little girl riding a bike and for the un-sung heroes whose bike-related stories are under-reported. Pattie is a rubber-hits-the-road type of Mayor and while the vision is to accelerate the progress of bike riding in cities, like the name of her blog, she is traveling at the speed of bike.
The Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor serves the following counties: Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale.