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August 5, 2002

Bike map grades area roads

By Eric Rangus

After nearly two years of development, the Emory Area Bicycling Suitability Map was released in May, and a community that is looking for ways to get out of their cars took notice.

“The feedback has been very positive,” said Brian Shaw, director of alternative transportation. “Wherever the map has been available, people have been picking it up. It’s been very well received.”

The map’s creation involved a collaborative effort by the Office of Alternative Transpor-tation, the Atlanta Bicycle Campaign (ABC) and the Clifton Corridor Transportation Management Association (CCTMA). It began in 2000, when the CCTMA—of which Shaw is executive director—bankrolled the map’s development. CCTMA enlisted the help of ABC, which had completed a similar map of the perimeter area.

With the Clifton Corridor (and Emory) as its hub, ABC, along with a group of area cyclists, began grading the area’s roads for bike suitability. Criteria included traffic volume and speed, frequency of hills and sharp curves, and presence of merge and turn lanes—both of which can be troublesome if not dangerous for cyclists.

Mapping and grading the roughly 16 square miles of road covered by the map took about nine months to complete.

Once that process was finished, a graphic artist drew the color-coded map and Campus Printing cranked out the first of what are now two print runs of 1,000 copies each. The map made its official debut on May 5 at the Bike There Festival, which Emory hosted.

According to the map, most of Emory’s immediate vicinity—as well as the campus itself—rates as “least difficult.” Area feeder roads, however, are a somewhat different story. Portions of Oxford Road, Clifton Road and all of Haygood Drive are rated with “medium difficulty,” while the “most difficult” roads on which to bike are the steep and narrow Houston Mill Road, the high-traffic North Decatur Road and hilly and busy Clifton Road north of the Asbury Court intersection. All other campus roads, as well as the path in Lullwater Park, are rated as least difficult.

The map color codes the streets. The least difficult routes are green and generally possess the following features: slow traffic, low traffic volume, wide right lanes or bike lanes, and few merge lanes or on-street parking. Medium-difficult routes are colored yellow and generally have medium-speed traffic, moderate traffic volume, limited merge lanes and some blind curves and/or long, steep hills.

Orange-colored “most difficult” routes are characterized by high-speed traffic, heavy volume, narrow lanes, frequent merge lanes and multiple hills and/or blind curves. Generally, roads through neighborhoods, where there is less traffic and a more leisurely pace, rated green. The narrow, high-traffic streets surrounding the area, though, were not rated as positively.

The map, which stretches as far north as I-85, west to the Carter Center and east to the far side of Decatur and North DeKalb Mall, is packed with information. It lists not only roads friendly to bikes, but several topographical aspects of the city that can be unfriendly to cyclists, such as one-way streets and steep hills. It also maps gated roads that are open only to cyclists or walkers, and even shows the location of bicycle repair shops.

A more detailed map highlights the Emory area. It includes not only the color-coded roads and pedestrian- and bike-only thruways, but gold triangles indicating the locations of more than three dozen bike racks scattered across campus.

In addition to road details, the map includes information of state bicycling rules, hints for dealing with motorists and road hazards, guidelines for effective cycling, bicycle commuter tips and Emory’s bicycle-related amenities.

“I don’t know if picking up the map will make anyone immediately start biking to work; I don’t think it works that way,” Shaw said. “But the map serves a need, and it keeps people involved and interested.”

The bicycle map is available in several places including the P.E. Center, the Clairmont Campus, Bike South and the Alternate Transportation office. It also can be download and printed from the web at