Tuesday was the fifth annual Georgia Rides to the Capitol event hosted by the Metro Atlanta Mayors Association. The purpose of the event is to raise support for improved conditions for cycling, including the development of regional systems of on-road bicycling facilities and multi-use trails.
Among the Cherokee County contingent in Tuesday's bicycle trip were former Magistrate Court Judge Ben Abney, Ball Ground Mayor Rick Roberts and Clerk of Courts Patty Baker.
Ms. Baker, who rides each Tuesday evening with Abney as part of a group leaving from Big Springs United Methodist Church, said she is not aware of any bike lanes in Cherokee County.
"I would love to see some bike lanes," she said, adding that there was a recent incident when her bicycling group was out and a white sport utility vehicle drove so close to the cyclists that "if you put your hand out, you could have touched it."
Roberts, who said he rides his bike occasionally, said he would like to see bike trails and bike paths around Ball Ground.
"We are going to explore what it would take," he said about potentially installing bike lanes on Valley Street and Canton Highway.
The Metro Atlanta Mayors Association also raises awareness of the benefits of bicycling as a form of transportation, a benefit to economic development and tourism, and a way to promote health and fitness.
"The fact is, if we did get around using bicycles, we all would be healthier. It is one of the best aerobic exercises," Roberts said, adding one problem with having bike trails locally is that cycling is more popular in areas that are flat. He noted that Cherokee's terrain has many hills.
State Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Hickory Flat) met with the crowd of cyclists and expressed support for a House bill that would create a required distance of three feet for overtaking a bicycle on the road. He said he met with other officials to see how the state could use existing rights of way for a low-cost expanded network of trails.