Letter - Georgia rides to the Capitol

On Tuesday, 35 avid cyclists participated in the "Georgians Ride to the Capitol" event by riding from Covington and Conyers to the Georgia Capitol in downtown Atlanta and back. They were accompanied by Mayor Kim Carter of Covington and Conyers City Councilman Vince Evans. Fifteen-hundred other riders and their mayors from more than 30 towns around the metro Atlanta area met us at the Capitol. The purpose of the ride was to promote cycling as viable transportation. As I rode along in our peloton, it occurred to me that we were riding for two more reasons.

One reason was to support our forward-thinking city and county government officials who are using their experience and influence to create a better quality of life for their constituents. Not that many of us are always 100 percent happy with our public servants' decisions, but as a cycling advocate working with our local leaders, I am consistently struck by their heart-felt desire to create a more livable community for all of us in these changing and challenging times. We rode to demonstrate that there are citizens who believe strongly in the possibilities for change and the progressive direction of their leadership.

The other reason we rode was to represent cyclists of all stripes. Not all cyclists are wearing flashy jerseys and riding expensive bicycles. For each of Tuesday's 35 avid riders, there are a hundred kids who are or would like to be exploring the world on their bikes. They, like the generations before them, should be able to ride their bicycles to a friend's house, or to school, and be able to do it safely. For each of those 35 riders, there are and will be a hundred hard-working neighbors who choose to ride or need to ride their bicycles to work. They deserve to be able to get to work and home again safely. For each of those 35 riders, there are 100 bicycles in garages with owners wishing they could ride for relaxation or exercise, if only they could do it without risking their lives on the road.

When we are in our cars and see these riders out on the road, they deserve our respect for the right-minded choices they have made. The children have chosen to leave their seats in front of the TV, the workers have chosen not to suffer the expense of a car and gas, and the recreational cyclists have chosen a healthier lifestyle.

In our changing world, we should embrace positive opportunities. One positive to embrace is accepting cycling and walking as part of the solution to creating better communities. Cycling and walking reduce air pollution, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, promote fitness and reduce traffic congestion. Cyclists and pedestrians deserve road markings, crosswalks and signage that will help them be as safe as possible. All drivers should understand that a cyclist or a pedestrian is their neighbor and willingly share the road. Global events are changing our world locally. We must adapt to these challenges and give respect and support to our neighbors who walk or cycle.

Eddie Shirey