Two-wheel transit
Officials to participate in ride to support bicycle infrastructure

COVINGTON - Covington Mayor Kim Carter, City Manger Steve Horton and Board of Commissioners Chairman Kathy Morgan will be among the cyclists participating in Tuesday's "Georgia Rides to the Capitol" sponsored by Georgia Bikes! and the Metropolitan Atlanta Mayors Association.

More than 1,000 cyclists and elected officials from across the state will ride to the state capitol in support of better transportation conditions for bicyclists in Georgia.

The ride will culminate in a press conference on the Capitol steps with metro mayors, state legislators and other state officials speaking on the importance of funding bicycle infrastructure and other alternative forms of transportation.

"I support the Ride to the Capitol because it promotes an activity that is healthy, good for the environment and also good for our local economy," Carter said. "Obviously, there are the quality of life and health benefits that come from preserving greenspace and providing recreational opportunities through better pedestrian and bicycle facilities. However, beyond that, communities across America are finding multi-use trails and other amenities attract hundreds of thousands of visitors and millions of dollars annually from tourism-related spending around those trails. And, in these difficult times, we can all use that."

Bicyclists are expected to arrive at the Capitol at 11:40 a.m.

Routes to the Capitol will vary in length and difficulty. Carter will bike about 5 miles from the Eastlake Marta Station to the Capitol.

"The last half mile is a gut buster and is straight uphill on Courtland Street past Georgia State University," she said.

Between 30 and 50 riders from the Covington-Conyers Cycling Club, also known as C4, are also expected to participate in the event. They'll do the full 86-mile round trip beginning at 7 a.m. at the Newton County Historic Courthouse. Covington riders will meet their Conyers counterparts at Conte's Bicycles and Fitness Equipment on Ga. Highway 138, where they will then bike through Olde Town Conyers and head on to the Atlanta.

"It's a demonstration to elected officials at the Capitol that they have a large constituency that rides bicycles," said C4 member Eddie Shirey. "We ride bicycles for recreation, we ride bicycles to work. When people think of cycling, the mind goes to a very narrow component. No one will accept at one go the total breadth of cycling in our community and certainly not the potential for cycling. We've got kids riding bicycles in cul-de-sacs. We've got a lot of low-income wage earners riding bicycles to work. If when they're out in their car people would open their eyes to see cyclists, and pedestrians for that matter, they would not believe the number."

Shirey said he's had many cyclists tell him they would ride more if they felt safer, hence the need for more bike trails, bike lanes, crosswalks and safe routes to schools.

One of the goals of the ride is to secure support for the development of a regional-scale bicycle network of both on-road facilities and multi-use trails, and cycling connections focused around major transit facilities and activity centers and near schools.

The Mayors Association also intends to raise awareness of the benefits of bicycling as an important form of transportation; a beneficial economic development and tourism tool; a way to maintain health and fitness; and a sport and family activity.

The bicycle ride is free and open to the public. Those who want to ride are invited to preregister and get more information at www.georgiaridestothecapitol.org.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.