Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New Cities Look for Parkland Paths for Cyclists, Walkers

DOUG NURSE The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionPublished on: 12/12/06

John Byers of Johns Creek objects to the idea of having to drive someplace to ride his bicycle.
"There's no safe place to ride," he said. "You're taking your life in your hands if [you] go on the road. When my family rides, I have to load the bikes and go to Big Creek Greenway."

But Georgia Tech is working on a plan to fix that. Using $250,000 in state grant money, the university is doing an inventory of possible parkland and mapping out possible bicycle routes for the new cities of Milton and Johns Creek.

About half of Milton, home of horse farms, golf courses and two-lane roads, is undeveloped, giving it a better chance of finding additional park space although it has inherited 301 acres from Fulton County for its 20,000 residents.

Johns Creek's neat subdivisions, and brick and stone shops take up about 85 percent of its land, and it only has about 200 acres of parks for its 60,000 residents."Johns Creek has a significant need for new parkland," said Bill Drummond, the Georgia Tech associate professor heading the project. "They're overcrowded or people go to other cities' parks. Or they don't go out as much."
Inspired by a dream of being able to ride from Milton to Roswell or Alpharetta and maybe to Johns Creek or Forsyth County, state Rep. Jan Jones (R-Milton) sponsored the bill that set aside the grant money in 2004. The funds were rolled over until 2007.

"I want to connect neighbors with places to go," Jones said. "We should be able to ride to school, library or the park." Drummond said Milton's long roads may lend themselves to bike lanes, although that could be expensive. Johns Creek, however, might be better served with wide multiuse paths next to its busy streets.The study also will estimate costs and break the acquisition and construction into phases to make it more feasible, Drummond said.
After the initial study is complete, it will be presented to citizens' committees in each city for their reaction and suggestions.

After incorporating citizens' proposals, it will be forwarded to the city councils. Drummond said that having the parks and bike paths will make both cities better places to live. "It makes destinations accessible," he said. "I expect it will increase social interaction and cut down on isolation that occurs in suburbs."

David Deutsch, 46, of Milton said his three teenage children would use a connected path to visit friends in other neighborhoods, and he would use it for long-distance rides.
"I definitely support it," he said. "Cars are not a big fan of bikers."

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