Build 100 new miles of high-quality bike lanes and trails (the city currently has 104 miles) to connect the city, including 20 new miles of protected bike lanes (currently have 4 miles)

As of January 2017, there were 104 miles of bike lanes and trails in the City of Atlanta; protected bike lanes made up 4 miles. It is important to note that these bike lanes are mostly scattered. In order to make Atlanta’s streets more liveable and bikeable, it is critical that we double the mileage of bike lanes and connect the network.

Building 100 new miles of high-quality bike lanes and trails is attainable. Cycle Atlanta 1.0, a supplement to the Connect Atlanta Plan (Atlanta’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan), called for adding 31 miles of bike lanes to the bike network. As of April 2017, 9.6 miles had been built and 11.45 miles have been funded. Renew Atlanta Bond projects include 30 miles of Complete Streets projects which, by definition, ought to incorporate bike lanes. TSPLOST projects, once implemented, would add approximately 49.5 miles of bike lanes and trails -- 16.2 miles from Complete Street projects, 13 miles of protected bike lanes, and approximately 19.5 miles of trails.

Image Credit: Atlanta’s Transportation Plan

Among the generally accepted four categories of potential bike riders (1. strong and fearless; 2. enthused and confident; 3. interested but concerned; and 4. no way, no how), people who are “interested but concerned” make up the majority of population (60%).

Research shows that their level of comfort and willingness to ride are greatly influenced by the quality of bike facility provided. Connecting gaps in the bikeway network and enhancing quality of existing bike lanes and trails would have enormous effects on the “interested but concerned” potential riders. Responding to the needs of “interested but concerned” group and making more investment in bike infrastructure would create a virtuous cycle of increased ridership and improved bike safety on streets.

Image Credit: Atlanta’s Transportation Plan

Research shows that U.S. cities that focus on connecting their bicycle networks see substantial increases in bike ridership and reductions in crashes, fatalities, and severe injuries involving people on bikes. Atlanta has experienced this surge in ridership when high-quality facilities are provided. For example, between September 2013 and December 2017, ridership increased by 225% on the 10th Street barrier-separated two-way bike lane.

In addition to addressing market demands for bicycle infrastructure, the city should set aggressive mode split goals. Both Portland and Seattle set mode split goals to drive future investments in transportation infrastructure. By setting a target on reducing the percentage of people driving alone for trips, these cities were able to more easily prioritize bicycle and pedestrian improvements before other forms of transportation.

The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition recommends that elected officials:

  1. Set a goal of building and tracking 100 new miles of high-quality bike lanes, including 20 new miles of protected bike lanes.

  2. Uphold plans for complete streets in Renew Atlanta Bond and TSPLOST to include high-quality bike lanes and, where space permits, protected bike lanes, without any additional delays.

  3. Secure additional funding to implement the rest of proposed bike lanes (approx. 22 miles) that have not yet been installed, as outlined in Cycle Atlanta 1.0.

  4. Mandate bike infrastructure with new developments and on streets in the city’s planned bicycle network when they are resurfaced.

  5. Set aggressive mode shift goals and prioritize spending for projects that reduce driving alone and increase biking, walking, or transit.