Cyclists wait for a truck to pass before crossing Irwin St. at the Atlanta Beltline
ATLANTA -- Ask a bicyclist, and you quickly learn: Atlanta has a bicycle problem.
"The drivers here don't respect bicycles," said East Atlanta bicyclist Trey Glover. "So they're very aggressive and and when we're biking, I always have to look over my shoulder for fear of someone is going to come up and get too close to me."
Undaunted by such stories, the city is taking steps to create a bike-share program. Mimicking similar programs in New York and San Francisco, Atlanta is taking proposals from private companies and nonprofits to create a network of bike stations -- where users can grab a bike, ride it, and drop it at another bike station.
Rebecca Serna runs the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, which has drawn the blueprint for the bike share program. Serna says Atlanta is much less bicycle-unfriendly than it was a decade ago. "I haven't been yelled at (by a motorist) in, I would say, a year. And it used to happen on a daily basis," Serna said.
"A lot more people are riding, especially in town. And biking to work rose almost 400 percent from 2000 to 2009, which surprises a lot of people," Serna said.
Serna says Mayor Kasim Reed has been very supportive of creating a bicycle-friendly environment in Atlanta, including the Atlanta Beltline. Serna says major Atlanta roads like Ponce de Leon Ave. are scheduled for significant bike-lane upgrades.
Serna believes several hundred loaner bikes parked at dozens of check-out stations would raise the visibility of bicycles, and maybe-- help crumble a remaining barrier of intolerance aimed at their users.