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Bike Lane Pop-up in Macon, Georgia, Wins Over County Engineer, Goes Permanent

7:59 PM EDT on July 12, 2017

All photos: Macon Connects.

Resident-led, temporary demonstrations of protected bike lanes just keep working.

This time, they worked on a partially state-run road through a small city in central Georgia.

Walnut Street in Macon, Georgia (county population 153,515, it's 80 miles southeast of Atlanta) will get three miles of conventional bike lanes in a city that currently has almost none, NextCity reported Monday. According to NextCity's Josh Cohen, that wouldn't have happened without a one-week demonstration of a temporary bike lane network through Macon last fall, created by a volunteer-powered street improvement group called Macon Connects.

As Cohen reports, that demonstration gave Bibb County engineer David Fortson "heartburn," but apparently also a change of heart about bike infrastructure:

Despite his concerns with implementation, he gives the pop-up event credit for leading to the implementation of the permanent bike lane downtown this year.

The event also helped shape his thinking about bike infrastructure. “I would say yes, it did [change my mind],” he says. “I think both bike lanes and bike infrastructure are important. But also, the event just reinforced the need for proper planning when you do make permanent improvements.”

The permanent lane is going to be installed on Walnut Street, a state-owned thoroughfare in downtown Macon. Rogers says the street “is just wide-open asphalt and doesn’t need to be. It connects three neighborhoods to downtown including a low-income neighborhood.

Fortson now says "the overall event was positive and it was good for the community."

Three miles of unprotected, unbuffered bike lane that doesn't yet connect to a larger network isn't likely to result in much ridership, of course. But carving out dedicated space for bikes in a city with essentially no bike lanes is a difficult hurdle for any city to cross. It's a credit to Macon's government and residents that a one-week pilot was what it took.

PlacesForBikes is a PeopleForBikes program to help U.S. communities build better biking, faster. You can follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook or sign up for their weekly news digest about building all-ages biking networks.

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