Interactive ‘Wikimap’ is new tool for bicycle and pedestrian master plan

Gretchen Elsner of Pedal Promotions and Kristen Baskin of Let Us Compost, ride their bicycles to pick up compost from 1000 Faces Coffee in this September photo. (File photo)

A Saturday incident on Tennessee’s Natchez Trace Parkway in which a motorist hit a bicyclist and fled from the scene formed a backdrop for Monday’s meeting of the committee guiding development of a bicycle and pedestrian master plan for Athens-Clarke County.


The incident, in which University School of Nashville administrator Marshall Grant Neely III, 58, is facing charges of felony reckless endangerment, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to immediately notify of an accident and failure to render aid, was captured on a helmet camera being used by a riding companion of Tyler Noe of Nolensville, Tenn., who sustained serious injuries but has been released from the hospital.

Athens cyclist Ken Sherman, who chairs the group of citizens and government staff members working with Toole Design Group on the master plan, told the committee the incident “reminds us of how much work we have ahead of us” in terms of addressing the attitude that “cyclists really don’t belong on the road.”

That sentiment was expressed repeatedly on social media in the wake of the Tennessee hit-and-run, Sherman said.

“I can’t say I was shocked, but I was very disappointed,” Sherman said, adding that such commentary “speaks to a degradation in our society … .”

Getting down to business Monday, the committee learned from Jared Draper of Toole Design Group’s office in Spartanburg, S.C., that an interactive map designed to let the public weigh in on bicycle and pedestrian needs across the county is now “live” on the county government’s website at

The Athens In Motion Wikimap allows interested citizens to point out intersections that are problematic for bicyclists and pedestrians, to denote routes that they find desirable, to suggest needed connections in the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure network across the county, and to pinpoint safety concerns regarding the community’s transportation infrastructure.

“The crowd-sourcing element of the Wikimap is really important to us,” Draper told the committee Monday. The map won’t remain “live” indefinitely, but will likely be inactive by late November, according to Draper. In the meantime, Draper said, if a lot of people interact with the map in its early stages, it’s likely that more people will be encouraged to participate before the map becomes inactive.

Toole Design Group, working under a $200,000 contract with the county to develop a countywide bicycle and pedestrian master plan, has already done some work in evaluating the community’s network of roads and streets in terms of their level of comfort for bicyclists. According to Draper, that work has shown that while neighborhood streets are generally conducive to cycling, those streets eventually run into larger community traffic arteries that are problematic.

Toole’s analysis, Draper explained, isn’t based on what he called the “Spandex cyclist” — an experienced bicycle rider who may not be particularly intimidated by vehicular traffic or other challenges — but considers the local bicycle infrastructure from the perspective of more casual riders, like a parent towing a child trailer behind their bicycle.

Next month, the master plan committee will begin the work of shaping a pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure network, actually putting some lines on a map, Draper said. That meeting is set for 6 p.m. Aug. 14 in the auditorium of the Governmental Building at 120 W. Dougherty St. in downtown Athens. Thus far, the committee has departed from the routine practice of such committees that limits discussion to the committee members themselves, and has informally invited comment from members of the public who attend the sessions.