Dunwoody City Council members questioned the cost of becoming a “bicycle-friendly community” after a July 13 presentation on earning the recognition.
The 77-page Bicycle Friendliness Assessment was created by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and presented to City Council July 13 by Johann Weber, a public policy Ph.D. candidate at Georgia Institute of Technology. The report includes recommendations that could earn Dunwoody a bronze or silver level designation from the national advocacy organization the League of American Bicyclists within the next few years.
But one of the main recommendations struck a chord with council members who said they were concerned about how this might fit into the budget.
Priorities for Dunwoody to take in becoming more bike-friendly include designating a dedicated bike-friendly community “champion,” Weber said, similar to an action taken by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on May 14.
Reed named Atlanta’s first chief bicycle officer, a full-time bicycle planner, engineer and advocate for the city’s bike transportation goals. The Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation is supporting the position through a five-year $250,000 challenge grant to the city through the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, the city said in a press release.
“This position is an example of how the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition is bringing new resources to the table for a more bikeable, walkable, livable city,” Rebecca Serna, Executive Director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, said in a May 14 press release.
But in Dunwoody, Councilman Terry Nall said he worries about “staff creep” and Councilwoman Lynn Deutsch reminded Weber that Dunwoody likes to do things “lean and mean.”
Nall asked why Dunwoody would seek a certification at all.
“Why would we exert energy and resources to go after a certificate?” Nall asked Weber.
“The certificate is nothing,” Weber said. “It represents something about your community that has value. You’re not chasing status.”
Weber said seeking a bronze or silver certification would signify that Dunwoody as a community is not only a great place to ride a bicycle but also a peaceful, safe and economically competitive place to live.
Community surveys had not yet been completed and Deutsch said she wondered whether that should have been included before making recommendation to council.
Councilman John Heneghan said he looks forward to seeing a citizen survey to gauge public interest and support for more bicycle-friendly amenities before the next budget cycle, if possible.
City Planner Rebecca Keefer said the report comes as part of the city’s sustainability action plan and the methods for implementing recommendations made by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition will be discussed at the sustainability committee’s August retreat. She said the sustainability committee would also work at the retreat to resolve who would be responsible for approaching local businesses with incentives to become more bike-friendly.
“We don’t expect the assessment itself will be adopted by City Council,” Keefer said. Rather, the members of the sustainability committee hope to incorporate some of the ideas into the transportation plan, she said.