ATL Trail + Rail

A journal on alternative transportation worldwide and trail- and transit-oriented real estate and development in Atlanta, Georgia

Monday, July 26, 2010

Copenhagen cycling through an American lens

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cycling directions on Google Maps

Friday, January 22, 2010

Inspiration for "BeltLine Fatigue"

There's this great line from the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. Frances our heroine has purchased a 300 year old villa and is in the process of restoring it. In the process, she has become fatigued and in need of some spiritual restoration of her own:

"Signora, between Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over these Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day, the train would come."

~ Martini to Frances, Under the Tuscan Sun

Sunday, December 27, 2009

BeltLine beginnings in O4W

The old rails of the BeltLine Northeast section are being removed, beginning at Dekalb Avenue and extending north to Montgomery Ferry Road. This corridor will be open to the public in January of 2010 as a hiking trail. The hiking trail phase is the first step in the evolution of the BeltLine prior to the installation of concrete trails. Then, new rails will be laid for transit.

A short distance north is the Old Fourth Ward Park, currently under construction. This park is the first of several jewels to be built along Atlanta's Emerald Necklace. The park will solve stormwater issues that have plagued the City Hall East area by sequestering the water as a central feature of the park. You can see from the picture below that excavation is under way.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Light rail bike car

This clever method for transporting transit rider's bikes rides the track in front of the lead rail car on the Zahnradbahn in Stuttgart, Germany.

Friday, May 01, 2009

IF mode folding bicycle

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Bicycle Evangelist With the Wind Now at His Back

Cornelia Dean
New York Times
January 13, 2009
PORTLANDOre. — For years, Earl Blumenauer has been on a mission, and now his work is paying off. He can tell by the way some things are deteriorating around here.
 “People are flying through stop signs on bikes,” Mr. Blumenauer said. “We are seeing in Portland bike congestion. You’ll see people biking across the river on a pedestrian bridge. They are just chock-a-block.”
Mr. Blumenauer, a passionate advocate of cycling as a remedy for everything from climate change to obesity, represents most of Portland in Congress, where he is the founder and proprietor of the 180 (plus or minus)-member Congressional Bicycle Caucus. Long regarded in some quarters as quixotic, the caucus has come into its own as hard times, climate concerns, gyrating gas prices and worries about fitness turn people away from their cars and toward their bikes.
“We have been flogging this bicycle thing for 20 years,” said Mr. Blumenauer, a Democrat. “All of a sudden it’s hot.”
But Mr. Blumenauer’s goals are larger than putting Americans on two wheels. He seeks to create what he calls a more sustainable society, including wiser use of energy, farming that improves the land rather than degrades it, an end to taxpayer subsidies for unwise development — and a transportation infrastructure that looks beyond the car.
For him, the global financial collapse is “perhaps the best opportunity we will ever see” to build environmental sustainability into the nation’s infrastructure, with urban streetcar systems, bike and pedestrian paths, more efficient energy transmission and conversion of the federal government’s 600,000-vehicle fleet to use alternate fuels.
“These are things that three years ago were unimaginable,” he said. “And if they were imaginable, we could not afford them. Well, now when all the experts agree that we will be lucky if we stabilize the economy in a couple of years, when there is great concern about the consequences of the collapse of the domestic auto producers, gee, these are things that are actually reasonable and affordable.”
All this might still be pie-in-the-sky were it not for one of Mr. Blumenauer’s fellow biking enthusiasts, Representative James L. Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat, avid cyclist and chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which has jurisdiction over surface transportation.
“He’s been wonderful,” Mr. Oberstar said of his Oregon colleague. And as support for cycling grows, he said, builders, the highway construction lobby and others have stopped regarding biking as a “nuisance” and started thinking about how they can do business.
With an eye on the potential stimulus package, cycling advocates “have compiled a list of $2 billion of projects that can be under construction in 90 days,” Mr. Oberstar said, adding that prospects are “bright.”
In addition, after many attempts, this fall Mr. Blumenauer saw Congress approve his proposal to extend the tax breaks offered for employee parking to employers who encourage biking. The measure, which Mr. Blumenauer called a matter of “bicycle parity,” was part of a bailout bill.
Mr. Blumenauer has spent a lot of time on another issue that ordinarily draws little attention: the federally subsidized flood insurance program. The program serves people who own property along coasts and rivers who otherwise would pay enormous premiums for private flood insurance, if they could obtain it at all.
The insurance “subsidized people to live in places where nature repeatedly showed they weren’t wanted,” he said. They might be better off if they did not live there, he said, but “it’s un-American to say, ‘Get out.’ ” Politicians who should confront the problem “are betting Nimto, not in my term of office,” he said. They hope that disasters will spare their districts or, if they strike, that the government will come to the rescue, Mr. Blumenauer said.
Portland native, Mr. Blumenauer, 60, has spent his adult life in elective office. He graduated from Lewis and Clark College in 1970 (after organizing an unsuccessful 1969 campaign to lower the state’s voting age to 18) and worked until 1977 as assistant to the president of Portland State University. In 1972, he won a seat in the Oregon House of Representatives. He moved to the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners in 1978, and from there, in 1986, he won election to the Portland City Council. Though he lost a mayoral election in 1992, he easily won election to the United States House in 1996 and has not faced serious opposition since.
Mr. Blumenauer entered Congress just after Newt Gingrich, the Republican speaker, killed a stopgap spending measure, shutting down much of the government, out of pique over his treatment on Air Force One. “Partisan tensions were very raw,” Mr. Blumenauer said. The bicycle caucus was “a way to bring people together.”
Sherwood Boehlert, a Republican and fellow bicyclist who represented upstate New York in Congress until 2007, agreed. When “partisanship was at an all-time high and tolerance of another point of view was at a longtime low,” he wore the bike caucus’s plastic bicycle lapel pin. “Bicycling unites people regardless of party affiliation,” he said.
In addition to bicycles, Mr. Blumenauer is particularly interested in public broadcasting and the plight of pollinators like honeybees. He is a founder of a “livable communities task force” whose goal, he said, is to educate members of Congress and their staffs on the benefits of transportation alternatives, open space, sustainability, vibrant downtowns, affordable housing and transparency in government.
Initially, he said, these interests marked him as “kind of left coast.” Not anymore. “They are becoming very mainstream,” said Adam B. Schiff, a Democrat who represents in Congress the area around PasadenaCalif., and who, with Mr. Blumenauer’s bicycle advice, now regularly rides to work from his home in Maryland. “He has been way out in front of the Congress,” Mr. Schiff said. “Now the rest of us are trying to catch up.”
When Mr. Blumenauer is in his Portland district, he usually gets around by bike, cycling about 20 miles in a typical day. He has three bikes in Washington and five here, and he cycles in all weather, even in the unusual snow Portland has had recently. “In falling snow you can get some traction,” he said.
But the surge of bicycling in Portland has not been free of incident. The Oregonian newspaper and bloggers have reported on “bike rage,” drunken biking, hit-and-run bicycle accidents and other problems. Drivers complain about bikers who ignore traffic rules or hog narrow roads, phenomena some irritated motorists attribute to feelings of entitlement or moral superiority.
Mr. Blumenauer brushes off this criticism. “They are burning calories, not fossil fuel, they are taking up much less space, they are seeing the world at 10 miles per hour instead of 20 or 30,” he said. “And even though there are occasionally cranky or rude cyclists, they are no greater a percentage than cranky or rude motorists.”
Plus, he added, “they have really fought for their place on the asphalt.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Barack biking

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A-Bike + Strida Folding Bike Competition

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Longest paved trail in U.S. now complete

The last foot of the Silver Comet Trail was poured on August 29th.  This completes PATH Foundation's 10 year journey constructing 61.5 miles of trail from the Mavell Road Trailhead in Mableton, GA to the Alabama/Georgia state line.  

The Silver Comet Trail joins the Chief Ladiga Trail at the state line which continues west to Anniston, AL.  

Together these two trails form a 95.5 mile-long trail comprising what is believed to be the longest paved trail in the United States.

A historic 61.5 mile bicycle ride from the Mavell Road trailhead to the Alabama state line is planned for Saturday, Sept. 27 beginning at 7:30 a.m.  A ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the achievement will take place at the state line at 2:00 p.m. with food and entertainment until 4 p.m.

A PDF with more details and a map can be had here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Google Transit covers Atlanta

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rail advocates encouraged by results of Gwinett straw poll

Local passenger rail advocates are encouraged by the results of this week's MARTA straw polls in Gwinnett County.

Both Democrats and Republicans were asked whether they would be willing to pay an additional 1% sales tax to extend MARTA service into Gwinnett.

Democrats voted "yes" and Republicans voted "no," but the overall percentage of Gwinnett voters favoring MARTA service was much higher than in previous elections.

The Georgia Association of Railroad Passengers says the results are evidence that Gwinnett voters are interested in rail passenger service.

"The straw poll questions only asked about MARTA service, which implies heavy rail transit," said GARP President Steve Vogel. "If Gwinnett voters had been asked about commuter rail service, the number of 'yes' votes would have been even higher."

Heavy rail transit is generally used to link central cities with close-in suburbs. It consists of frequent trains operating on their own dedicated tracks making frequent stops throughout the day.

Commuter rail is a different form of rail service, generally used to link central cities with more distant suburbs. Commuter trains normally operate on tracks shared with freight railroads, and most runs are scheduled during the morning and evening rush hours. It's less expensive to build and operate than heavy rail.

The proposed Atlanta-Athens "Brain Train" commuter rail line would run through Gwinnett.

"The size of the pro-MARTA vote suggests there would be very strong support in Gwinnett for a commuter rail line," said Vogel.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Georgia Commuter Rail: The $4 per gallon tipping point

Past predictions were that Georgians wouldn't change their driving habits, even if gas were to go to $6 per gallon. In a surprising reversal of opinion, Governor Perdue has changed his position at $4. Last week he endorsed the long stalled Atlanta - Lovejoy commuter rail line and said that we must raise the funds to extend the line on to Griffin. The Federal funds for Atlanta - Lovejoy have been in place since the days Gov. Barnes' tenure ended in January 2003.

Let's hope that the Hampton City Council will follow Perdue's example. The Council has voted twice 6 - 0 against the rail, saying they don't want a train platform in Hampton even though it is a proposed stop on the rail line between Lovejoy and Griffin.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Georgia House Passes Brain Train Resolution

(ATLANTA) The Georgia House passed HR 1631 in support of commuter rail service in the Athens - Atlanta - Macon corridor yesterday by a margin of 143 to 12. This resolution states "that the members of the Georgia Transportation Board are urged to help ensure that the existing plans for the Macon to Atlanta to Athens commuter rail lines are implemented with urgency."

HR 1631 was adopted based on all of the work that has been done to date and the proximity of this particular project to implementation. Georgians are incredibly close to being provided with permanent congestion relief, a safe, reliable alternative to commuting, and a better quality of life for commuters in both corridors. It also provides a model for implementation in other commuter corridors as defined by GDOT and the Transit Planning Board (TPB).

Representatives John Heard (R- Lawrenceville), Clay Cox (R-Lilburn), Billy Mitchell (D- Stone Mountain), Tom Rice (R- Norcross), and others sponsored HR 1631.

HR 1631 compliments SR 263, which was unanimously adopted by the state senate in March of 2007, which urged Congress "to provide funding for the engineering, construction, land acquisition, and other necessary costs for commuter rail connecting Athens to Atlanta."

With the combination of these resolutions, recent polling and other recent actions by the GDOT Board, staff and others, there appears to be more traction than ever to implement commuter rail in Georgia. Supporters of the commuter rail line -- affectionately called the Brain Train because of the high concentration of colleges, universities, and research centers in close proximity to the line -- say the state's support sends a clear message to the DOT that this project should be a priority and would help alleviate Georgia's traffic woes, provide a safe alternative to automobile travel, improve air quality and contribute to positive economic development and sustainable land-use practices.

Additional Georgia Brain Train/Commuter Rail Facts:
  • According to federal studies, commuter rail is 25 times safer than automobiles.
  • AAA estimates the cost of operating an automobile on a one-way trip between Athens and Atlanta (70 miles x 52.2 cents per mile) at $36.54. The cost of a one-way ticket on the Brain Train is estimated between $8.30 and $10.40.
  • A 1999 Texas case study shows $1 billion in private investment within five years of the opening of 20 miles of new rail in Dallas.
  • Regional comparables - the Virginia Railway Express and South Florida's Tri-Rail operate on rights-of-way owned by private railroads and have far exceeded original ridership expectations.
  • For every one percent of transportation shifted from the automobile to public transit, regional income increases by $2.9 million and creates 226 jobs (Miller, Robinson & Lahr, 1999).
  • Commuter rail service in the Athens-Atlanta-Macon corridor further removes more than 5.4 million annual automobile trips, and connects six commercial airports and more than a dozen of the state's great institutions of research and higher learning.

Source: Press Release by Paul D. Snyder of A. Brown-Olmstead Associates

Friday, February 15, 2008

BeltLine Begins

On Saturday, February 23, at 12:30pm in Rose Circle Park, the beginning of construction on the first part of the BeltLine will be formally celebrated in a groundbreaking ceremony!

The ceremony makes official the construction already begun on the West End Bike Trail. This segment will be completed later this year and is being positioned as the demonstration, or "show" mile for the entire 22 mile loop. Of course, future plans call for transit tracks running adjacent to the trail.

Click here for the invitation flyer.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A-Train: Walk + Bike + Transit Trip Planner

Citizens for Progressive Transit have introduced an open source online mapping resource to help Atlanta residents plan car-free trips throughout the city either exclusively by foot, bike, or transit or via a combination of modes.

It's a sophisticated and useful tool for sure. Give the A-Train [Atlanta Transit Rider's Advocacy and Information Network] a test drive.

Monday, January 28, 2008

High-Speed-Rail + Your-Speed-Trail

Working with state and federal officials, ECGA volunteers have helped ensure that ongoing planning work on the proposed South East High Speed Rail Corridor between Petersburg, VA and Raleigh, NC will include a greenway corridor in both states. Environmental planning, set to begin this spring, has been approved to acquire a 30-foot easement adjacent to the rail corridor specifically to support a greenway trail. Piggy-backing a greenway trail onto this large interstate transportation effort provides an unique opportunity for large-scale trail implementation.

The greenway would generally follow the high speed rail corridor but would diverge at towns to provide access to local amenities. In areas were the high speed rail alignment will divert from existing railroad track, newly abandoned track bed will be used as the base recreational trail. In other areas, where the new high-speed rail alignment will follow existing tracks, the greenway would be adjacent to the rail corridor. This means that the proposed 140-mile trail would be a unique mix of rail-to-trails and rails-with-trails. While this effort is still in the early planning phases, ECGA intends to use the momentum of this first effort to push this ambitious plan to a successful conclusion.

Source: East Coast Greenway E-News

Coastal Georgia Greenway updates

Progress is happening all along the route of the Coastal Georgia Greenway, which will also serve as the East Coast Greenway.
  • Master grants writer and ECGA Georgia Committee Co-Chair Jo Hickson of Savannah is notably advancing the trail through many projects. Activities include a greenway-inclusive design of the Back River Bridge between South Carolina and Hutchinson Island and partnering with the Coastal Heritage Society Trail through Savannah's Battlefield Park and along the Savannah Ogeechee Canal
  • Bryan County seeks recreational trail grant funds to build trails to Henderson Park
  • Liberty County will construct a trailhead at Riceboro Creek this spring, in a project that includes a bridge
  • A trail at historic LeConte-Woodmanston Plantation will memorialize more than 6,000 slaves in the county 150 years ago.
  • Also involving Jo Hickson, McIntosh County has $1,075,000 for construction of the seven-mile Highlander Trail.
  • In Brunswick, funds are sought for a two-mile Liberty Ship Trail at the foot of the Sidney Lanier Bridge, and a one-mile extension northward to the Torres Causeway and St. Simons Island.
  • In Camden County, research is underway to acquire a six-mile abandoned rail corridor linking St. Marys and Fernandina Beach, Florida via ferry service to begin this spring.
Source: East Coast Greenway E-News

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Innovative bike filters water as it transports

The Aquaduct is a pedal-powered vehicle that stores, filters, and transports water for the developing world. It is the grand prize winner of the Innovate or Die Pedal-Powered Machine contest.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Ridership is there" for Commuter Rail says new report

A new report compiled by R. L. Banks and Assoc. says that the "ridership is there" for seven proposed commuter rail lines between Atlanta and Macon, Athens, Gainesville, Canton, Bremen, Senoia, and Madison.

Georgia Association of Rail Passengers [GARP] President Steve Vogel said the study should be a "wake-up call" for state officials who have been "dragging their feet" on commuter rail for more than a decade.

Read the GARP press release here.