Last month, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced a plan to build a safer and more equitable transportation network for people who walk, bike, and use other human-powered or light individual transportation (LIT) devices. To kick off this project, the City’s Office of Mobility Planning and Midtown Alliance used temporary materials and volunteers to build a “pop-up” protected bike lane on 10th Street in Midtown. The temporary lane connected the existing cycle track from Piedmont Park at Myrtle Street two additional blocks up to Juniper Street.
Thank you to the dozens of Atlanta Bicycle Coalition members and others who showed up in the pouring rain to put out barriers and then returned the next day to draw chalk markings on the route. The pop-up was only in place for a week, but it was still significant. Hundreds of people who bike and use LIT devices had a safer option to connect them between the Atlanta BeltLine, their jobs, homes, and amenities in Midtown. It proved the City, non-profit organizations, and committed residents can work together to implement the quick infrastructure that save lives.
Although many LIT users experienced the additional safety measures provided by the pop-up lane, we know the temporary pop-up was the first small step on the path to safe streets for all. We will continue our efforts to support the City with more quick build opportunities and encourage a more rapid response.
With one pop-up lane done, we are primed for more. We want to see the City live up to its own goals for mobility, equity, and sustainability and have outlined several next steps they can advance swiftly.
Install more pop-up infrastructure projects. The best way to prove that temporary projects work is to do more of them. We propose generating a plan to do similar pop-ups as soon as possible on each of the significant routes contained in the Mayor’s action plan. If it’s not every street on the plan, we recommend starting with segments where there are known safety issues. We have the 10th Street pop-up as a measure of how quickly it can be activated.
Community engagement is important, but it should not hold up solutions that can save lives. It’s impossible to reach everyone with individual public meetings when it comes to quick build projects to make our streets safer. For pop-up projects, engage affected property owners and residents directly with door-to-door canvassing, and contact existing neighborhood organizations, especially those with active transportation committees.
Keep us informed. A frustrating part of Renew Atlanta and T-SPLOST is the lack of updated information on the status of the many projects on the list. It contributes to cynicism and skepticism. Publish a list of proposed projects, and even if they aren’t moving at the pace we want to see, keep it updated. Suggestions for details on what to include are:
- Project start and end dates
- Key destinations served (i.e., MARTA stations, schools, parks, etc.)
- Expected timelines. What does “quick” mean? In some projects, that should mean months. Others may take longer. Explain that.
- Detail the projects are in plans with existing community buy-in.
- Let us help! We recognize that advancing safe streets for all is a long term project, and our organization is here to support in the interim and for the long haul. The City should create a new permit that allows groups like Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, neighborhood organizations, Community Improvement Districts, and others to apply to the City to implement more pop-up projects.
We expressed cautious optimism about the Action Plan for Safer Streets. It has the potential to create a sense of urgency in implementing the many plans and projects that have been in place for decades. The City has proof that together, we can take on small projects with a meaningful impact. Now is the time to scale up and do more.