Hi! I’m Pattie Baker and you can find me riding my bike in the City of Atlanta and throughout Metro Atlanta. You may enjoy my book (all proceeds are used to help more women and girls ride bikes) and its corresponding blog at TravelingAtTheSpeedOfBike.com. I’m a League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor (#5382); a People for Bikes Ambassador; a member of Georgia Bikes; a street photographer; and the married mom of two grown daughters. After creating and chairing the Sustainability Commission in a city now certified as a Green Community by the Atlanta Regional Commission, I served as a member of that city’s first
Comprehensive Land Use Plan’s steering committee, so I have a feel for ways civic engagement works (and doesn’t). I take a daily leap of faith, and I look forward to the day when riding a bike doesn’t require one.
How would you describe your mission?
I have three goals.
(1) Shine a light on those doing the work to make it more welcoming for people on bikes throughout Metro Atlanta in order to: honor people; share best practices; encourage others in their forward momentum; and identify opportunities for collaboration.
(2) Encourage people throughout Metro Atlanta to apply to become Bicycle Mayors of their cities or counties.
(3) Empower or assist more people, especially women and teen girls (as is my passion), who are underrepresented in our public spaces as bicycle riders.
What are the obstacles and challenges you are facing in your region?
With a reputation for car-focused sprawl, Metro Atlanta may not seem conducive to bike riding and that image needs an overhaul because there is so much good happening here. However, disregard for lived experience; not inviting a diversity of ages, abilities, and goals to the table; and greenwashing “improvements” to make them appear more effective than they are in rubber-hits-the-road reality works against our forward momentum. It’s also hilly, and often hot.
What are the next steps now that you are the Bicycle Mayor?
During each month of the first year of my service as Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor, I will focus on a particular municipality (kicking off with a Metro Atlanta regional overview followed by the
City of Atlanta, and then going county-by-county alphabetically).
Each month, I intend to do these actions:
• Read/research existing comprehensive, master, and transportation plans as applicable;
• Do a communications audit, including a call for tips, about under-reported bike-related success stories and unsung heroes;
• Tell and amplify stories to honor those doing the work, encourage connections, and inspire others;
• Do hands-on-experiential research of welcoming routes, when possible, and highlight them while spotlighting broader barriers to participation;
• Identify and encourage an existing bike-related passion person in each county and City of Atlanta to apply to become a Bicycle Mayor;
• Share useful resources and calls-to-action specific to each month’s focus as well as ongoing bike skills education;
• Encourage collaboration across municipalities when appropriate.
What lesson can your region teach others?
Metro Atlanta includes the most diverse square mile in the USA, the city with the most economic disparity (and the greatest Civil Rights history) in the country, and the most diverse county in the Southeast. It is also a top relocation destination for younger generations as well as one of the fastest aging populations. We have the opportunity to showcase and support every possible bike riding need with a valid, appropriate, community-originated solution — and to strengthen our impact through collaboration close to home and around the world.