Well we lost, kind of. We also won.
The single file ordinance passed. Nobody wanted this version passed. The homeowners and cyclists had written another version of the ordinance that they felt was better for safety and helping everybody get along. Thompson ignored everybody and passed his rather bizarre version. He is very out of touch with everybody. The commission voted for 200 pages of ordinances in one vote, so it passed 5-0. There was no individual vote on each issue.
I still believe this violates Georgia law, however this ordinance is pretty useless. Basically you have to ride single file in the multi-use lane on the right of the road. That is unless you can't. Then you can ride single file in the main lane. If you violate this and ride two abreast, the police "may" ask you to leave Columns and not return until 7 a.m. the next day. Which I guess means that if I ride double file, I won't get to sleep in my bed that evening. Nobody liked this. Not the not sleeping in my bed part, but the whole ordinance.
I don't seem to think the police will be down there banishing people for riding two abreast. However, I do see more horns being honked and more motorists yelling at and buzzing cyclists. I think anger will increase. However, I urge all cyclists to be sure to allow cars to pass when behind you. I do this on all rides and it just makes sense. I don't like the ordinance because I think it infringes on our access to public roads and will lead to more restrictions. In the end the commission is trying to legislate manners and common sense of both cyclists and motorists. We should try to keep up our end. However, if you are buzzed or threatened, call the police. Get any witnesses. I don't think the police will do anything, but we should start leaving a paper trail.
How did we win? The commissioners acknowledged that they need to start building more areas for runners and cyclists. What may be coming up soon is bike paths up Johnson Ferry to Lower Roswell, which would connect up to what is going on in Roswell. I would hope one day that we could have a path from the Johnson Ferry and Columns parking lot, through the national park and Hyde Farm to Hyde Road and then to Lower Roswell. However, the commissioners are very open now to increasing bike paths in Cobb, including East Cobb. Call them on this. Write them and thank them for this while encouraging it.
The commission also discussed widening Columns to incorporate another 3 foot lane in each direction. I don't know if this is feasible. If the median is narrowed the trees will surely be stressed and may die. While 3 foot could be taken from the outside for about 1.5 miles very easily, the middle section would be tough. Regardless the commission knows it needs to look for solutions. I encourage everybody to keep contacting the commissioners and pushing for more bike paths. We have momentum and need to keep pushing. Also mention you are against any restriction on cyclists access to public roads!
I talked with the president of the Chattahoochee Plantation Homeowners Association, which includes the homes on Columns. (He and his board were against the version of the ordinance passed, and wanted the one the homeowners and the cyclists had written.) They are going to start a permit process for the large groups that are dumping hundreds of runners on the road with aid stations and such. Hopefully this will cut down on the large running groups which are causing a lot of congestion. I feel everybody should be able to run there, but the large organized groups tend to stay together, run two or three abreast, and cause large amounts of congestion.
In the end the meeting was worse than a Scott Stapp concert, although honestly I have never seen a Scott Stapp concert and I am just imagining. I met some nice people. I met some 9 hour Half-Ironwoman who was sending me nasty emails. She was just as nasty in person. How the commission votes on issues all at once seems like a means to avoid being held accountable. I think some people show uup to talk at these meetings because they have nothing else to do. Wealthy areas like Columns get immediate attention while poor areas in West Cobb with serious issues are completely ignored- who wants to mess with a crack house? Although West Cobb gets a ton of bike lanes! I guess the meth manufacturers need them to cycle between making batches.
Commssioner Thompson is out of touch with everybody, seems to be old and fragile and is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Commssioner Kesting is a very dull knife as well. Both Kesting and Thompson are vulnerable, had to put up a fight in there respective primaries in their last election. A Republican is already planning a run against Kesting, and I think she would be more vulnerable in her primary. Thompson, if he runs again, can be beaten in the GOP primary, which is the election in this part of Cobb. I think every cyclist should support any opponent to all the commissioner since they made this vote and you should let them know this. Olsen, Lee and Goreham may be safe, but we should let them know that we care and vote.
Thanks to everybody who showed up and made an effort. Although the ordinance did pass, and should be overturned by a judge, we made noise and got a lot of attention which we can push to get some action. We have momentum and should use it to our advantage. Lets turn this into something good. Please support all the local advocacy groups- consider becoming members and making donations. A large list of them is available on the right column. I will keep this site up to archive important material concerning cycling in Cobb. And again, contact your local elected officials let them know you want more for cycling in our community.