Wednesday, February 14, 2007

An Open Letter To All

Hello everybody,

I want to discuss 4 things concerning Columns Drive and cyclists, highlighted at first and then in more detail. If this cuts off due to the length, the entire post can be viewed at

1. Forward this as an email to everybody. Some cyclists are pushing for a bad compromise concerning Columns Drive out of fear and seem to be trying to shut down any debate. Everybody needs to be involved in this. That includes cyclists not just in Cobb County. Any person in the country can contribute to and support candidates in elections in Cobb. Therefore, they can also apply pressure. Give them the chance.

2. With a committee of cyclists pushing to allow an ordinance restricting our rights to be on the road, we really need to fight hard for the next few weeks. It is crunch time. We need to stress that while we have no problems trying to exist in harmony with motorists and homeowners, we will not allow Cobb County to start chipping away at our rights. We all need to write letters, send emails and attend the next county meeting on February 27, 2007 downtown Marietta.

3. We need to demand protection from motorists. Aggressive drivers and speeders endanger cyclists, as well as runners, walkers and bladders, and it is time Cobb County started enforcing all traffic laws on Columns and throughout the county.

4. Perhaps we can start a group for cycling advocacy in Cobb County- Bike Cobb, If we get a good group of people together, we can make a difference.

Now in more detail:

1. Forward this to everybody! We need all cyclists involved in this debate. If Cobb County starts to restrict cyclist’s rights, which they should not be able to do in this instance due to Georgia law, then other counties may be able to follow suit. Cobb County will surely try again at a later date. If motorists do not like cyclists, they will just start passing ordinances to get us off the road. We need to stop this.

As the elections in 2006 showed, the grass roots and net roots can have a huge impact on elections. By net working on the internet, using spare cell minutes to place calls, seeking campaign contributions from across the country, and all types of various political activities, everyday people have shown they have immense power. We need to point out to all 5 commissioners that any vote to strip cyclists of their rights will result in an active campaign to replace them in either the primary or general election when they next run. They need to know that they may make a few homeowners on Columns and some bike hating motorists happy, but they will tee off a very affluent and active group of the community, state and possibly country.

Commissioner Thompson, who is probably a lost cause, comes up for reelection in 2008. He was challenged in the primary last time, and while he won by 70% to 30%, it was only a 5700 vote margin. In talking with long time GOP contributors, I found out that he is considered to be a crusty old curmudgeon who is not well liked. If he runs again, he can be made vulnerable. All elected officials can be challenged. We need let our elected officials know they work for us, and if we do not like they way they are serving we will seek to replace them. (I say we try to boot Thompson if he runs again, regardless of his vote. He stirred up this mess.)

Get all cyclists to let these commissioners know we are not happy with what is going on, and there will be consequences. Let the media know we are not happy. Make noise! The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

Attend the meeting February 27, 2007. The meetings will begin promptly at 7:00 pm prior to the beginning of the regularly scheduled BOC meetings. The public hearings and BOC meetings will be held in the BOC Meeting Room, 100 Cherokee Street, Marietta, GA 30030". Contact Laraine Vance, Planning Division Manager, at lvance (at) for more information.

Write the commission members. Contact information for the Cobb County Commission can be found at:

Contact the media! Amanda Casciaro is the Marietta Daily News reporter who has written two very good articles on the Columns issue. Her email is: acasciaro (at)

2. There is a committee of cyclists that is allowing Cobb County to chip away at our rights because they are scared. I firmly believe that was Commissioner Thompson’s plan the entire time. We need to stand up to the Cobb County commissioners, Commissioner Thompson and the cyclist committee, who were not elected, are deciding what they think is right for us.

The cyclist committee is saying they agreed on a voluntary single file rule. Thompson and the homeowners are saying this will this be a county ordinance. I think both are dangerous and either will start to erode our rights to be on the roads.

If it is voluntary, and posted on a sign as planned, motorists will probably drive more aggressively, thinking they are in the right to do that. That would be incorrect and dangerous for cyclists, runners, skaters and walkers. The law says we are allowed to be 2 abreast. While I always make room for motorists to pass me, I do not want a motorist coming up behind me and buzzing me because he incorrectly thinks I am in the wrong.

If it is to be an ordinance, as Thompson told the AJC and MDJ, then we are giving up rights granted us by the State of Georgia. State law says those rights can only come under local authority if we are provided dedicated and exclusive bike lanes, which we do not have on Columns. If we set precedence by allowing them to take our rights, they may just keep on doing it. We need to draw the line now. Let the cyclist committee and the county commissioners know what you think and what you want.

Contact information for the committee of cyclists can be found at:

Contact information for the Cobb County Commission can be found at:

3. How many times have you been buzzed by a motorist on Columns or in Cobb County- when a car tries to see how close they can get to you as they pass? How many have had motorists throw stuff at you while you cycle- drinks, bottle, change, cigarettes, or anything? How many times have you had speeding cars and aggressive drivers endanger you? Are you sick of it?

While this debate on cycling is in the news and in front of the commission, lets open it up to include our demands for more protection from the Cobb County Police Department. Let’s tell them we want better traffic enforcement on Columns Drive and throughout Cobb County. Let’s tell them that we want a county campaign to educate drivers that we have the right to be on the road and aggressive action of any kind against cyclists, or runners, bladders and walkers is against the law and can be prosecuted.

Let’s also start collecting these stories to be given to the Cobb County Commission. Write your experiences down, include your name and contact information so it can be verified by the county if they desire, and send it to (Send them to the commissioners as well, if you like.) I will print these out and deliver them to the commission, if we have a decent collection. I would also like to print some on the blog Let’s start a paper trail.

Let the commission know that not only will we demand to keep our rights as cyclists, but as cyclists, citizens and taxpayers we are demanding they help us exercise those rights in a safe manner with protection from aggressive motorists. Let’s change the direction of the debate and frame it better. Cyclists are not dangerous to cars, but cars are frequently dangerous to cyclists, and sometimes on purpose. It is cyclists who die due to aggressive motorists, not the other way around.

4. Eric Broadwell has been highly successful with Bike Roswell, He and his group have made significant changes in Roswell. Roswell is much more biking friendly and bike lanes are being incorporated in many road projects. He has worked with, and sometimes, I imagine, against, elected officials to make this happen. Perhaps it is time cyclists started making the same effort in Cobb County – Bike Cobb –

While people who know me will tell you that I am probably the last person on earth to try and sweet talk some politician into building us bike lanes, I do not mind doing some work. I want to try and facilitate an opportunity for cycling advocates to come together and work for better consideration from Cobb County and it elected officials. Hopefully we can get a good group of people to work together to make some changes. I am willing to try, but cannot, and will not, do it alone. We need numbers and knowledge.

What I would like to see us do is to protect our rights as cyclists and seek an increase in bike facilities for all cyclists; road, mountain, families, children, BMX. Cobb County needs to know that they cannot just build a softball field and think they are providing for recreation. We should work for bike lanes, off road trails, BMX parks, family cycling trails, and parking lots near those facilities.

We should also work to get these facilities though out Cobb County. Commissioner Thompson’s big argument is that we have the Silver Comet Trail to cycle on, which was built by The Path Foundation, not Cobb County. Many of us cannot get to The Silver Comet without a 1 hour drive each way. We want cycling facilities in East Cobb. We want them in North Cobb. We want them where ever there is a demand. We want facilities and bike lanes where we have access to them. We want all citizens of Cobb County to have easier and safer alternatives for cycling.

If you are interested in getting involved, please send me an email at Remember there is power in numbers.

Thanks for your time,

Tim Carroll

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