This campaign is celebrating some success with the announcement of the Mayor's Action Plan for Safer Streets Across Atlanta in September 2019.
The city of Atlanta has approved permits for 12,000 scooters, and thousands of people ride scooters each day. This highly visible and growing demand for transportation options beyond cars requires changes to the street to create safe spaces for scooters. Fortunately, bikes and scooters have a great deal in common, including benefiting from the same kinds of infrastructure - lanes separated from motor vehicles.
To provide safe travel for people on bikes and scooters, we need to connect and protect a network of "LIT" lanes. We use LIT to stand for Light Individual Transportation, what some people call scooters and bikes, or micromobility.
Park Place protected lane 2015 (R. Serna) & 2019 (D. Givens)
The city of Atlanta has some 118 miles of bike lanes today but is missing a core network in the busiest parts of town.
What's more, many of our lanes fail to protect riders. Lanes are littered with debris and trash, faded to the point of disappearing or are blocked by delivery trucks. We all recognize that a stripe of paint that often ends suddenly, right where you need it the most, is not enough.
That’s why we applaud the City of Atlanta’s commitment to connecting and protecting lanes for people on bikes and scooters announced by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Friday, August 16.
"In the next 30 days, we plan to implement changes to our streets to better protect everyone. We will use temporary barriers, painted demarcations and any tool we can find to complement our growing network of 118 miles of dedicated space for bikes and scooters."
That's exactly the kind of rapid response we called for following the death of the fourth person riding a scooter in the Atlanta area this year.
Cascade Avenue 2019
Yet we can’t fail to notice that while people riding scooters are attracting a great deal of attention right now, people walking, biking, and waiting for the bus have been overexposed to unsafe streets for decades.
Building safer streets should start with the communities facing the greatest exposure to harm today. In a city like Atlanta, where economic inequity is among the highest in the country, the City’s ONE Atlanta vision of an affordable, resilient, and equitable Atlanta must be reflected in the allocation of space on city streets.
Women and people of color are riding scooters in high numbers, according to one scooter company. People earning $25,000 to $50,000 a year are most enthusiastic about scooters and other LIT devices, while those making more than $200,000 are the least, according to transportation researchers. And women are more likely to support micromobility than men.
The City of Atlanta is among a growing number of cities who have adopted transportation plans emphasizing safety, equity, and mobility.
Taking fast measures to change how space on city streets is allocated is essential to our growth and maturation as a city.
With the Mayor's announcement early in 2019 of the new department, and appointment of the first Commissioner in November, this came was a success! Thank you to everyone who played a role.
77 your supports
The City of Atlanta faces major challenges in the realm of transportation, mobility, affordable housing, equity, climate change, and traffic safety.
In 2018 alone, the City will adopt an ambitious Comprehensive Transportation Plan, manage the rise of micro-mobility (scooters and dockless electric bikes), create affordable housing strategies around access to reliable transportation, deal with a backlog of Complete Streets projects under the Renew Atlanta program, meet the goals of Bloomberg's American Cities Climate Challenge, and, finally, confront the reality that the high concentration of crashes on Atlanta's High-Injury Network are preventable.
Is our current transportation structure up to the task?
In 2017, Councilmember At-Large Andre Dickens commissioned a study to find out. The feasibility study was an exhaustive independent review of our current transportation structure. Relying on dozens of stakeholder interviews with transportation professionals both in and outside Atlanta along with a comparative analysis of 11 peer cities across the U.S., the report found alarming deficiencies in our current structure. It proposed that the City "set a goal of consolidating all transportation functions in the City into a stand-alone transportation-focused department, led by a new Commissioner [and] name the agency the 'Atlanta Department of Mobility and Streets (ADMS).'"
Creating an Atlanta Department of Transportation would restructure our current transportation, public works, and planning tools in order to better leverage resources and streamline project delivery. It would be more efficient and better able to implement a strong vision for our city's equitable future.
The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition supports a stand-alone department dedicated to streets and mobility. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Councilmember At-Large Andre Dickens, and Councilmembers and City Leaders across Atlanta agree that the time is now.
What do we want?
After reviewing the feasibility study, our preferred option is for the Mayor to appoint an “Interim Director of Transportation” to establish the department with minimal political pressure.
After 9 months, the mayor would then appoint a permanent Director of Transportation to implement the strategic plan, facilitate communication within existing departments, and engage employees and stakeholders in the process of governance restructuring.
The Director of Transportation will report to the Mayor and Chief of Staff and will lead both the reorganization process and the newly created department.
DeKalb Avenue is fast, dangerous, and out of control. In 2015, Atlanta voters overwhelming approved the Renew Atlanta Infrastructure Bond to update and improve our streets, including a Complete Street for DeKalb Avenue.
Yet in 2019, after three years of public meetings, funding for the Complete Street on DeKalb Avenue was cut, leaving only resurfacing and replacing the reversible lane with a center turn lane and design for a future Complete Street in the budget. It's not clear where funding would come from to actually build it.
The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, along with community members and neighborhoods along DeKalb, is continuing the fight for a DeKalb that serves more than high-speed traffic speeding through our communities. DeKalb Ave connects 11 neighborhoods -- all but 1 wrote letters of support for a Complete Street.
We are calling for any project, including repaving, that affects this key, flat corridor to make the road safer -- for everyone. The resurfacing project should include a buffer between people walking on the sidewalk and cars, and a place for people to bike.
The City of Atlanta retained Arcadis as the design firm for the striping design for the first phase of resurfacing on this project. They are pursuing short-term safety improvements that can be accomplished within the resurfacing project, with an eye toward long-term improvements that can be built in a future second phase.
The design team intends to begin meeting again with various local stakeholders in January and February 2020 to be followed by a public meeting. It's not yet clear when the design will be finalized and when the resurfacing project will go to construction.
Atlanta Bicycle Coalition remains an advocate for both long and short term solution to the dangerous conditions on DeKalb Avenue. The improvements should address the glaring gap in bike facilities stretching from the Stone Mountain PATH trail to the Inman Park-Reynoldstown MARTA station.176 signatures
Click here for more background on our campaign for a safe and complete DeKalb Ave.