Of course it does, but if one puts any credence in the words of certain biking groups, the Complete Streets gang and the various interests pushing the Johnson Ferry Corridor plan and others like it, that type of conversation could very well be going on in Cobb County in the near future.
In a recent letter published in this paper, a local cycling enthusiast attempted to make a case for adding bicycle lanes to Johnson Ferry Road, which would entail narrowing the automobile lanes, or purchasing expensive right-of-way, at taxpayer expense, on the pretext that such would be good for business. He failed to explain how making it more difficult and time consuming to get to the places of business would actually help the business.
He stated, as if proving his case, that most trips are less than 2 miles in length. What he did not divulge is the purpose of these trips. Very few of them have a goal which could be accomplished on a bicycle. What he fails to embrace is the simple fact that, to most people a bicycle represents recreation, not transportation.
In response to a recent letter from the organizer of the Complete Streets initiative, one blogger wrote, “Let’s get this straight. You are going to narrow the automobile lanes, on a major artery, then you are going to add bikes and walkers to the mixture and this is going to ease congestion, speed up traffic flow, and increase safety.”
Heck yes! Sounds reasonable to me. Now about that beachfront property outside of Phoenix, when do you want to close the deal?
The Johnson Ferry Corridor plan is all about adding bicycle lanes, public transportation and walking paths, presumably in addition to the sidewalks which already exist for the purpose of walking, and which are, for the most part, some of the more under-utilized amenities in Cobb County. I walk Johnson Ferry Road daily, either from Lower Roswell south a couple of miles, or north for two or three miles. I rarely encounter more than one or two walkers, joggers or runners.
Based on personal experience, if the number of pedestrians quadrupled because of new walking paths, it would hardly be worth the expense of constructing them.
The real splinter in the banister would be the introduction of public transportation lanes. Can you just imagine the effect on Johnson Ferry traffic when we add cyclists, joggers, walkers AND a bus that stops every few blocks?
I am all for biking, walking, jogging, running, pogo sticks and skateboarding, anything to get people off their backsides and into some form of exercise. But, we need to be realistic and practical about it. Most people, such as me, with a desire to walk/jog/run or cycle will find a place to do it safely.
Bike lanes and walking trails are great, in their place. However, their place is not on a heavily travelled main traffic artery which is the choice means of getting to the expressways from our area.
The people pushing this ideal of a European-inspired relaxed lifestyle with people biking or walking to the mercantile areas, lounging for coffee at street side cafes, amid miles of identical decorative street lamps, matching benches and identical trash receptacles, do not realize that Cobb County and Copenhagen have little or nothing in common.
When most European cities were built, the roads needed only accommodate walkers or the occasional ox cart or horse-drawn dray. Not so with Cobb County, particularly the suburban areas such as those found adjacent to the Johnson Ferry Corridor.
We no longer live in an environment where bikes are modes of transportation. The fantasy of most people biking to work is unrealistic. In most cases, the distance is too great, and even where it is not, how many days are there when it is not too hot, too cold or not raining? Besides, how many of us have jobs we can adequately perform in the same clothes in which we just rode 3 miles on a bike?
Leave the bike paths and pedestrian trails to areas where they fit. Johnson Ferry Road is not that place.
Pete Borden is a retired masonry consultant in east Cobb.