Act now: improve safety for all on DeKalb Ave

On Thursday, February 27th, the Atlanta Department of Transportation showed the most recent concept for DeKalb Ave. The project is described as “DeKalb Ave Safety Improvements,” and while it’s true that removing the reversible lane is an important safety improvement, the overall design would not fulfill the City’s commitment to improving safety for everyone on this key corridor. Our vision for DeKalb Ave is of a greenway similar to the BeltLine alongside a safe street for all. In our vision, DeKalb Ave facilitates easy access to transit, prioritizes the safety of the most vulnerable people first, and provides transportation options that go beyond cars for the growing number of businesses and residents along the corridor.

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DeKalb Ave


Safety, mobility, and affordability are at the heart of Atlanta’s Transportation Plan approved by City Council and there have been plans to replace the reversible lane and add bike lanes and turn lanes on DeKalb for decades (Candler Park Master Plan, Connect Atlanta Plan). 

In 2018, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition started questioning the Renew Atlanta's progress building the promised Complete Streets. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' staff then identified major funding shortfalls in the Renew Atlanta/TSPLOST programs that would jeopardize long overdue projects. 

There is still tremendous demand for a safe and complete DeKalb Avenue. At our 2018 Atlanta Streets Alive - Eastside! 74,000 people biked, walked, skated, or pushed strollers at Atlanta Streets Alive. That’s nearly a week’s worth of car traffic crammed into 4 hours on a street that carries about 18,000 vehicles per day. This route connected 11 Atlanta neighborhoods -- Downtown, Sweet Auburn, Old Fourth Ward, Cabbagetown, Inman Park, Little Five Points, Reynoldstown, Candler Park, Edgewood, Lake Claire, and Kirkwood. On June 9th, 2019, we brought Atlanta Streets Alive back to DeKalb Ave. 

Following our successful Atlanta Streets Alive, Renew Atlanta led a public meeting where they stated that the Complete Street project would be divided into two phases, beginning with the removal of the reversible lane. Phase 1 never happened and the reversible lane still remains.

Our vision for DeKalb Avenue



reversible-1_241015a.JPGGoing back even further

We started advocating for a complete DeKalb Avenue because it is riddled with potholes, has an outdated and dangerous reversible center lane (aka "suicide lane"), lacks bike lanes, and backs up at key intersections due to the lack of turn lanes.

DeKalb Avenue made the Renew Atlanta list as a Complete Street - this would mean potentially removing the reversible "suicide" lane (a long-overdue safety improvement) and replacing it with turn lanes at key intersections, as well as repaving the street, and adding bike lanes or a multi-use path, and safer crossings.

These simple changes would transform a dangerous street into a safe connection from Decatur to the BeltLine and Downtown Atlanta.

Whether you walk, bike, drive, take transit, or all of the above, fixing DeKalb Avenue will benefit you.

in 2015 WABE reported that "Heather Alhadeff, an urban planner in Atlanta, says complete streets projects can be a way to reduce congestion, even when a lane of traffic is removed. 'It’s counterintuitive to most people’s thinking, but sometimes slowing down gets you through faster,' she says.

As an example, Alhadeff says to think of a crowd of people all trying to exit through one door in a room. “We’d all get stuck at the door, right?” she says. “So we know that if wait, and you go out first, I’m actually still going to get out faster.”

More than 250 people attended the first Renew Atlanta public meeting in 2016. There was overwhelming support for Complete Streets and a space for people on bikes.

Renew Atlanta: DeKalb Avenue Safety Improvements Project