Baker-Highland Connector: comments needed

If you've biked down North Highland Street into downtown Atlanta recently, you may have noticed something different. The bike lane is gone, replaced with a multi-use trail. We've gotten some comments about the removal from our members and have a site visit scheduled with the city for next week. We'd like to hear from you on this issue - how does the new trail work for you? Is it better than the bike lane? Worse? Does it serve your transportation needs or function as more of a recreational facility? Please email your comments to rebecca at atlantabike.org, or submit them below.

Comments

Bikes don't belong on the sidewalk

This side path was a waste of money. The funds could have been used to improve cycling traffic flow and make commuting more pleasant, preferably on a stretch of roadway that didn't already have bike lanes. Instead, it's a step backwards. This side-path is little more than a moderately widened sidewalk and it was clearly not designed to make transportation by bicycle either safer or more efficient. After the construction ended I modified my commute, which normally includes Edgewood and Five Points, just to give this thing a fair chance. Here's what I found:

Heading east, the side-path is functional - moderately. The section between downtown and the freeway on-ramp is especially useful as that's a somewhat intimidating stretch of road. However, at the crossing with the on-ramp, it's clear that very little thought was given to how bike and car traffic are expected to interact. It's dangerous, and cars aren't expecting cross traffic there. There should, at the very least, be signs warning drivers to yield. A slightly raised crossing to slow motorists would be better. Worse yet, coming from Central Park to head east is downright frightening. I used to wait in the left-most turn lane, allowing freeway-bound drivers, who are often impatient, to remain beside me. Now I must take the lane in front of freeway bound drivers, begin to turn onto the on-ramp itself, then make a sharp, low-speed left turn onto the path. I've done it twice, and both times it was perilous.

Heading west, the situation is even worse. Turning left from northbound Jackson St onto the path requires use of the crosswalk, as noted in earlier comments. It's confusing to drivers and extremely uncomfortable. It goes against every aspect of vehicular cycling. The on-ramp crossing is equally uncomfortable, if not more so. But worst of all, the path dumps riders into traffic at its downtown end facing in the wrong direction. There's simply no safe way to exit the path and re-integrate with westbound traffic into downtown.

My experiment with this path is over. In the future I will be taking the lane on Highland, at least when heading west. That's safer than riding on this new path, but it's a step backwards from the old bike lane.

I hope that, during the site visit, officials from the city will be equipped with bikes so that they can experience the perils of this path first-hand. While building it was likely a well-intentioned gesture, it was obviously a mistake that needs to be avoided in the future.

My 2

I ride this route most days in both directions. I do not use the new path heading into town; it's just too much of a hassle to get onto it and it would be as bad getting back into traffic when crossing Piedmont. I have tried it a few times heading out of town and at this point will only ride it from the connector ramp to the corner of Jackson. The only thing I like about it is it makes the right onto Jackson easier.

terrible

I use this connector a lot and LOVED it because it had a bike lane. I didn't even see the new trail on a recent trip, I just noticed the bike lane gone and was sad. I prefer to ride on the street to keep a good flow. Trails like the path are okay but tend to get clogged with walkers and strollers. If I am biking 10 mph+ I want to feel confident that I won't hit a pedestrian. I just rode in the regular traffic lane. It's too short (if you are just crossing over to central park) to get on a separate trail.
Most Likely I will continue to use the street and not the new trail. I would prefer if there was a bike lane + trail.

A. Laura

My Opinion

I used to ride this often as part of my commute from Lake Claire before moving to Midtown. I now ride this street occasionally. When the painted bike lane appeared over a decade ago, I thought a great step forward. Since then the lane was never clean enough to really ride in, but in effect created a wider lane to be shared between auto and bicycle traffic. This new arrangement has resulted in narrow lanes going both directions.

The multi-use path is much more dangerous, in my opinion. Multi-use paths are often used by inexperienced riders, and the design now requires cyclists in both directions to navigate through aggressive Connector-bound traffic (the prior path and turn lane was marked for cyclists and Highland traffic to stay in the middle lane), and makes left or right turns to and from Central Park, Jackson, or Piedmont extremely dangerous and inconvenient - the safest way to do this, if a cyclist chooses to use the path, is to dismount and cross.

Most importantly, the new narrow traffic lanes force cyclists into traffic. Since the construction has begun on the path, creating the narrow lanes, I have had cars pass aggressively and honk horns at me, which had never occurred before.

I suggest that ABC demonstrate the difficulty and danger of turning to and from the path and the danger to inexperienced cyclists crossing the connector on-ramp to city staff during the site visit.

This type of facility may be an improvement if only considered a sidewalk, but seems a step backwards for utility cycling in the city, if cyclists are expected to use it. I suspect it was much more expensive that re-striping a street to create a bike lane, too.

Baker-Highland connector

I preferred the old setup with a bike lane on both sides. This is along my daily bike commute route, and when coming into Atlanta from the east, I take the Freedom Park bike path to its end at Jackson where I go right and then I take a left at Highland. With this new bike path I now have to cross at the crosswalk. I feel this will be more difficult as I now have to watch for cars making a right onto Jackson from Highland. I only ride on Highland to Central Park, so that right turn will be more difficult as I'll be on the left side of the road. Also, in general, I prefer that pedestrians and cyclists should be separated as much as possible. Feel that it's safer.

another disappearing bike lane

Rebecca,

I don't use Highland Avenue much, but I am interested in trying out the new trail, and will send my comments. Because I work downtown and bike as often as I can, I'm familiar with the bike lanes along Ivan Allen Jr Blvd. The lanes have been gradually disappearing, and need to be repainted.The lane along the eastbound portion of Ivan Allen is denoted by a sign at the corner, just before the Ga Aquarium's parking garage, indicating the establishment of a bike lane. But the lane has been somewhat unusable for 3 years, because of trucks of all sizes parked in the lane as they await entry into the Aquarium's loading dock, as well as motorcoaches and limos dropping and meeting attendees of Aquarium ballroom events. Furthermore, the lane doesn't extend eastward beyond W. Peachtree St.

Still, the amount that has been designated is greatly welcomed. But, it would be nice if the city would repaint the lane. I'm guessing most motorists don't even notice it.

Kevin B.

Bike lanes on Ivan Allen

Kevin,

As a volunteer at the aquarium, who also rides his bike there, I agree with what you have to say. Also it should be noted that once you cross over Centennial Olympic Park Drive, the bike lane is gone until you get to Williams St, a distance of 1 block. What's up with that?? Just another example of the fragmented bike lanes we do have in the city.

You would think that bike lanes around Centennial Olympic Park would be a no-brainer as well, but there are none there at all.

John Tackett

Death does not scare me.. It is life that frightens me more!

Ivan Allen

Central Atlanta Progress is redoing Ivan Allen and is going to repaint/redesign the street. I'll ask Angie to let us know the timeline for construction.

as a PATH...

Coming from DT it is a nice alternative to traffic. It brings you all the way to Jackson, then the disappearing bike lane on Jackson to existing PATH. The interchange at the on ramp is well though out, IMO. Coming into town, if I was on Highland, I would not go to the PATH. Coming off Jackson, only if not turning on Central park. Coming off Central Park, going out of DT, I'm not sure you can get on the PATH?