This is a letter mailed to an AJC writer and the Cobb County Commissioners from Barry Goppman, a cyclist.
I have followed the back and forth screaming, seemingly egged on by Cobb County Commissioner Joe Thompson.."I really got them talking didn't I", between cyclists and Columns Drive homeowners over the last two months. No matter what solution/compromise to this one confrontation of many like one's may result, it will be no more from my perspective, than putting a band aid on a gaping wound. It's akin to doctors treating the symptoms not the cause of an illness or disease. The problem is the same in scope as what happens on 400, The Northend 285 Perimeter, The Downtown Connector and other key Atlanta Area Roads during rush hour/peak use times..too many people/cars...not enough pavement. I am a cyclist and triathlete. I understand that Columns Drive offers for many, a "safer place than the normal Atlanta area road" to train or get a good workout in. I personally stopped riding or running on Columns Drive more than two years ago because it's dangerous. Not because of some inconsiderate or rule-breaking people on bikes, skates, and on foot trying to grab more than their "fair share" of this road. No, I stopped using Columns Drive because there is simply not enough pavement most of the time for the people and the cars who want to use it. People just get frustrated in trying to claim their "piece of the road" to use it for their own specific training or excesses purpose. My personal "straw that broke the camel's back" came while riding on Columns Drive one Saturday I had to constantly swing out into the main traffic lanes to avoid people who were walking 3,4,or even 5 abreast "training" for the 3 Day Cancer Walk. I always warn people on foot when I'm coming up on them and about to pass with an "on your left comment". More than once when I
repeatedly had to pass one of these groups of people, a few would repeatedly move out further on the road when they heard my warning and stick their elbow out in an attempt to knock me off my bike. They seemed to think they were the only people on the road. Similar types
of non-sharing, greediness or general unawareness by people occurs on The Silver Comet Trail in many high use sections.
Mr.Thompson, who I am guessing is not a cyclist or an individual who ever tried to claim a part of a road to ride or run on, seems to be just trying to appease people who live on one street in Cobb county by crafting his ban/limitations on cyclists. I would further doubt that he has had the "pleasure" of being almost or actually side-swiped by a car, screamed at, spat upon, doused with liquids (including beer and urine), and had his workout challenged with tacks thrown into the road. I doubt that he's never had to try to find safe and abundant of space roadway to pursue a goal of fitness or training to compete in an event covering many miles. If he had ever had these kind of challenges he might be more intent on finding a real solution to the real problem....finding a safe place to ride, run, walk, or skate uninhibited by cars and crowds of people.
I have lived in a major American City with a much greater challenge of available space to share..much greater... and the greater New York Metropolitan Area. They found a solution to this type of problem many years ago that is still working today. It's simple and puts
current tax dollars paid by cyclists, runners, walkers, skaters and moms/dads pushing strollers( who all also drive automobiles) to use to benefit all. What's the solution you ask??? Simply close parts of key roads/parks to auto traffic during days/parts of days where the "exercise traffic potential" is high. No need to build anything, no need to add a tax or create a license fee to fund it. closes a four mile loop of to automobile traffic every week Monday thru Friday. They also close auto traffic to all of for many hours every weekend. In nearby , a seven mile stretch of one side of The Westchester Parkway, a very heavily used divided highway, is closed for eight to ten hours to automobile traffic every Sunday for most of the year! Wow..not rocket science and it eliminates debates and confrontations between people of different views.
Now if Mr. Thompson and the other Cobb County Commissioners really want to solve the "Columns Drive" type problem for all of Cobb County, that of not enough road for both cars and exercise oriented people to both get what they want and have already paid for, they have at least one solution to move forward on. I'm sure there are other working solutions to the problem working in other cities in the US that could be uncovered with a little research. Heck, I sure if asked, a group of us exercise oriented people would even take it upon ourselves to help with the
research at no charge. Thinking even further, our concerned elected county officials could be proactive and speak with officials from other counties in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area regarding roads that could provide solutions in their counties.
Why do simple things like this have to become so complicated. C'mon Commissioner Thompson, do what we are all paying you to do..make Cobb County a safer and healthier place to live and enjoy!!
Just my 2cents worth!!
Barry L Goppman..trying to be healthy and live to tell about it!!