“That was just not what I was expecting because we were pretty far down the road in planning,” he said.
Broadwell, director of Cobb EMC and a previous candidate for Fulton County Commission, said he called on political allies and started an online petition that garnered nearly 1,450 signatures. Just days after the denial, GDOT reversed course.
He said he argued that the 1,500 participants come from 13 states and sometimes as far as Belgium and France to ride and spend money. Broadwell said this is the only freeway ride in the Southeast.
“After a more in-depth review, it was determined that construction will most likely not impact the ride for this year on the requested dates,” Higley said.
Broadwell said this all started as a joke a decade ago: Wouldn’t it be novel and fun to ride bicycles on Ga. 400? It’s rare to see open asphalt on Ga. 400, never mind more than a thousand cyclists on one of metro Atlanta’s most frustrating roads.
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There are multiple versions of the ride — spanning nine, 26, 44, 62, or 100 miles — that include traveling from Holcomb Bridge Road to Northridge Parkway on Ga. 400. The longer versions take riders through horse country in North Fulton, Forsyth and Cherokee counties.
City spokeswoman Julie Brechbill said Roswell, led by cycling supporter Mayor Lori Henry, was in favor of preserving the event even after GDOT had denied the request.
Broadwell said it was state Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell who told him the public campaign had worked and that GDOT would allow the short shutdown of Ga. 400.
“I am very pleased they worked with us in a spirit of partnership to continue this extraordinary annual event,” Albers said Friday.
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But Higley said GDOT is "strongly recommending" that organizers find alternate routes in the future because of all the construction and traffic congestion on Ga. 400, including the express lanes project and the nearby construction on I-285.
“As long as we have future inclusion, we can go north,” Broadwell said. “… We are mostly concerned with the safety and experience for the riders.”
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A new pop-up bike lane is in place in Midtown.