Auburn Avenue Streetcar update

Message from ABC:

Thank you to everyone who took action to bring bike lanes to Auburn Avenue as part of the Streetcar project! Your voices were heard, and a partial victory is the result. The mayor's transportation advisory sent the message below detailing the thought process behind the decision. Over time, we see more projects including bicycle facilities from the get-go, in no small part due to the outpouring of support generated by this initiative. Stay tuned for the next opportunity to get involved. 

Response from City of Atlanta -- Tom Weyandt, Senior Policy Advisor for Transportation, Office of the Mayor

"After receiving over 230 emails from the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, I requested our staff to thoroughly review the current proposed bike facilities.  We heard your concerns and we are taking action. 

A key finding of our review of the current design is that we will investigate the possibility of an eastbound bicycle lane between Park Place and Peachtree Center Avenue section and will commit to a separate eastbound raised cycle track on the Fort Street to Hilliard Street section of Auburn Avenue as part of our bicycle facilities expansion efforts.

There are other sections along Auburn where we will not be able to install dedicated bike lanes and I would like to explain the rationale behind this decision. 

The Atlanta Streetcar project will transform the look and feel of the whole corridor.  Improvements include the transit facility itself, enhancements to the entire project area for pedestrians, support for bike facilities and support to the merchants and other new activities along the whole route.  Given these multiple factors, trade-offs are inevitable. 

Summary

The City of Atlanta fully appreciates the thought and passion you and others bring to the support of bicycle facilities in the City of Atlanta.  We have carefully reviewed your concerns and are working diligently to accommodate some of your requests.  I believe with some certainty that we can add a dedicated bike lane in the first critical uphill block as mentioned above (between Fort and Hilliard) and we will incorporate this into our own bicycle priorities.  Additionally, we will review the possibility of adding a bike lane on Auburn (between Park Pl and Peachtree Center Ave).

For the three-block section of Auburn Avenue with sharrows, the loss of up to 39 planned parking spaces is an unacceptable burden on the corridor and its businesses.  Equally, the loss of more than two dozen trees and various other street furniture – monuments and benches, etc – is also inconsistent with a friendly and safe pedestrian environment we hope to create.  Such changes would require a re-visit of the environmental work already accomplished, documented and approved.  The net impact on the corridor would not, we believe, be an overall benefit to the project and community it serves.

I hope this puts some context to the bike facilities issues and will give you some comfort that we consider this one of many important elements of the Atlanta Streetcar project and will act accordingly in our own bicycle facility implementation.

Section Analysis

The concerns raised understate the actual impact of expansion of bike lanes and paths.  Bear in mind that in both the Auburn and Edgewood corridors the streetcar construction is on the opposite side of the roadway from the bicycle facilities.  It is not expected that the streetcar construction will interfere with the opposite side of the road.  This was an early decision to minimize conflicts between bikes and the streetcar guide way. Installing bike lanes is not as simple as just laying down striping.  There are certain other factors which are fixed – specifically the actual guide way alignment which is necessitated by traffic, operational characteristics of the vehicle itself and utilities – some of which pose significant challenges. 

If we were to install full bicycle lane/cycle track along Auburn Avenue, considerable changes would be needed in the current street and sidewalk configuration. 

Based on draft 60% plans/existing conditions and photographs (not recent field survey), below is a summary of what would need to occur to accommodate dedicated bicycle lanes/cycle tracks:

Peachtree Center Ave to Courtland St (This section currently proposed for sharrows)

  • This would require the removal of two large decorative curb bulb-outs, which include:
    • seven medium-size shade trees
    • several utility vaults
    • one decorative way-finding sign
    • eight monumental marble posts and one interpretive sign
  • This would also require reducing planned on-street parking by 11 spaces

Courtland St to Piedmont Ave (This section currently proposed for sharrows)

  • This would require removal of one large decorative curb bulb-out, which includes:
    • six medium-size shade trees
    • one decorative way-finding sign
    • seven monumental marble posts, two marble “benches” and two interpretive signs
  • This would also require reducing planned on-street parking by 15 spaces

Piedmont Ave to J Hill Jr Dr (This section currently proposed for sharrows)

  • This would require removal of three curb-bulb-outs, which include:
    • 12 crepe myrtles
  • This would also require reducing planned on-street parking by 13 spaces

These Auburn Avenue blocks will have dedicated bike lanes:

  1. J Hill Jr Dr to Fort StBicycle lane installation planned.
  2. Hilliard St to Jackson StBuffered bicycle lane installation planned.

These blocks are being reviewed for bike lanes:

  1. Fort St to Hilliard StWe are reviewing what it will entail to install bicycle lanes along this section.  Although not currently part of the design, a raised one-way cycle track can most likely be accommodated between the curb and street trees. This is the first uphill block on Auburn Ave. leaving downtown and should be a priority for bicycle facility installation.  The administration will commit to making this a priority in its bike facility expansion efforts.

Park Pl to Peachtree Center Ave:

There may be a possibility to reduce streetcar travel lane to 11 feet wide and add bicycle lane with no additional demo or curb work (depends on location of track bed in streetcar travel lane). We only need an additional 3-11 inches to accommodate a 10-foot-wide eastbound travel lane and a four-foot-wide eastbound bicycle lane. There is no planned on-street parking on this block.  There is a set of large utility vaults mid-block that prohibit moving the curb at all.  I will inquire about this - but make no commitment on results.