Getting to Know DSSG-ATL

Hi, everyone! My name is Becca Berge, and I am another one of this summer’s DSSG interns. For my project, I am working with Kyle Shaffer (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill), José Sotelo (Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México), and Justin Squirek (Georgia State University) on a project using data from an app called Cycle Atlanta. But more about that later.

A little about me: I graduated from Emory University (this month!) with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Political Science.


(In the picture: I’m the grad on the right.)

I came to Atlanta three years ago from a suburb of Seattle, Washington (by Microsoft), and my town is a wonderful place for bicyclists. Growing up, many of my neighbors used the Sammamish River Trail or the Burke Gilman to commute to work – it wasn’t unusual to be stopped at an intersection behind a group of cyclists.

It’s harder for cyclists to get around Atlanta. But that’s where Cycle Atlanta comes in. The app was developed at Georgia Tech by a team led by Dr. Kari Edison Watkins and Dr. Chris Le Dantec, and constitutes one part of the Cycle Atlanta: Phase 1.0 study, a supplement to the Connect Atlanta Plan created by the City of Atlanta Departments of Planning and Community Development. Data from app users helps city planners address the needs of cyclists in the city, from expanded infrastructure to facilities like drinking fountains or bathrooms along heavily-traveled routes.

One of my goals for this summer is to begin commuting to and from Georgia Tech by bicycle. Despite being a little daunted at the prospect of riding a bike down Ponce de Leon Avenue during the morning rush hour, I am excited by the possibility of joining a community of bike riders and urban cycling advocates in the Atlanta metro area.

At this point, our group is working to make data collected by the app more usable. Next, we will analyze the data. My role in this project is somewhat unique: While my teammates have worked with raw data in programs like Python and R and developed an interface, my major contributions will be in the next stage of the project, when we begin analysis.

Last Friday, we met with Leslie Caceda, Program Manager of Atlanta Bicycle Coalition (ABC) to discuss the progress of urban bicycle advocacy in Atlanta. One great outcome of that meeting was that we learned about Mayor Kasim Reed’s public ride with ABC from City Hall to the Atlanta Jazz Festival at Piedmont Park, an event scheduled for the next day. Three of us (José, Justin, and myself) took part in the ride. Mr. Reed spoke about his commitment to expanded bicycle infrastructure in the city with the aim of celebrating National Bike Month and Atlanta’s recent selection as Green Lane Project city by PeopleForBikes. Mr. Reed was also presented with a (very nice) donated bike, which, to his surprise, he was expected to actually ride with the event attendees immediately after the conclusion of his speech.

The bike community here is friendly and open, and the event post-speech consisted of plenty of photo ops and a leisurely 3-mile ride from the Capitol to ABC’s Bike Valet service, which was set up just inside Piedmont Park at the corner of 10th and Monroe.

Reed   Biker   GA bike capitol

(Above, left to right: Mayor Kasim Reed poses with Rebecca Cerna of ABC, and others; a friendly event attendee with his prototypical bicycle; the crowd assembling at the Capitol pre-event.)