I try to use my bicycle to understand Atlanta. A passionate urban planner, I’m obsessed with the way cities live, work, and breathe. Riding on two wheels enables me to notice the off the beaten path buildings, the bustling neighborhood parks, and the tiny details of this city that give it character. Of course, I also notice the pot holes, the construction plates and Atlanta’s oft-bizarre street grid. However, I feel certain I wouldn’t see and experience the city the same way if I was a car driver speeding through.
I ride Linus, my early 1980s red road bike, everywhere. As my mom says, “Shayna and Linus have a thing.” We really do. I bought him at a used bicycle shop in Athens during college, and we’ve been inseparable (other than a stint abroad) ever since. He’s my primary mode of transportation and my permanent adventure buddy.
About 2.5 years ago, I left the US for a while and lived in the Netherlands (and a couple of other places). There, bicycling culture is so different. It’s the norm to cycle everywhere, and the pace of city cycling is much more leisurely. Since I didn’t even know anyone with a car there, I had to depend on my little Dutch bike to get me everywhere, even when I had huge items (see: campfire wood, an entire box of bananas, and a rolling duffel). Developing that self-sufficiency abroad really inspired my cycling habit once I returned home. Now each grocery store run, Home Depot purchase, or commute to work is a reminder of the independence and mobility that a bicycle affords.
Now, I commute to work in Downtown from Reynoldstown, and I truly enjoy it more every day. Because Wylie and Edgewood are such popular bicycling corridors, I’m making friends on the ride to work. It’s nice to chat with fellow cyclists at red lights and it’s a human connection that I certainly wouldn’t get if I was inside a vehicle. Plus, more and more people are joining the ranks every day. The bicycling community in Atlanta is so strong and welcoming. I’ve loved being a part of it so far and I look forward to watching it grow as our infrastructure expands over the next few years.