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ABC calls for bike lane on Auburn Avenue
The Atlanta Streetcar project, slated for completion in 2013, received a $5.1 million "transit enhancements" grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission's Livable Centers Initiative for installation of bike lanes and enhanced pedestrian infrastructure (read: fixing sidewalks). Yet the draft plans for Auburn Avenue show bicycle signage (“sharrows”) for most of the street with bike lanes on just three blocks of Auburn, whereas Edgewood is slated for a first-rate bike lane.
Please note these two bike lanes - one in each direction - are intended by the project sponsors to act as as paired bike lanes. Due to the streetcar being placed on the curb lane and the hazard streetcar tracks pose for cyclists, it would be unsafe to add bike lanes on the same side of the street as the streetcar. The streetcar will be in a mixed traffic lane with cars. This is a compromise - our ideal scenario would be a streetcar that operates in a dedicated lane in the middle of the road, with either protected bike lanes on both sides of the street or on a nearby parallel street.
We think the addition of a dedicated, striped bike lane on Auburn would enhance the historic district in many ways - see below for just a few - so we're asking you to weigh in to ask the city to edit contractor's plans.
Sharrows are nice for awareness but they don't create dedicated space for bike riders. On-street parking is necessary but Atlanta has many parking options, and not so many bike lanes. Cross streets like Piedmont and Courtland could be narrowed to add on-street parking, leaving room for a bike lane on Auburn, or planners could take a page from the West Peachtree @ 5th Street project and use sidewalk space to add cycle tracks where space permits. Check out our op-ed on the topic in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Why bike lanes?
- Bike lanes benefit local businesses. People who bike to stores spend more money than people who drive, take transit, or walk, according to Business Cycles, Transportation Alternatives. Spaces too narrow for car parking can be used for on-street bike corrals, fitting 10-20 bikes in the space needed for one car (Alta Planning report on economic impacts of bike corrals).
- Bike lanes build community. Bicyclists are “eyes on the street” who are more likely to see and report crime. They can easily to stop to talk with neighbors, building much-needed social capital.
- Bike lanes attract cyclists to streets. Our biannual Atlanta bike traffic counts show the existing Edgewood Avenue bike lane gets more bike traffic than any other spot in the city or region.
Recognizing that a project as complex as the Atlanta Streetcar requires tradeoffs and compromise, we came up with a tweaked proposal that would maintain on-street parking as much as possible while prioritizing bicycle infrastructure.
This is not intended as an engineering document, but rather a concept. If you think this is on the right track, please take a minute to ask the city to make sure Auburn Avenue gets a connected bike lane.
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