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.