We're celebrating a success for this campaign! Safe Routes to School is funded in the City of Atlanta's FY '22 budget.
It was once the norm for kids to bike around their neighborhoods and to school. Biking provided independence for growing kids while giving them physical activity and access to social networks. In 1969, 50% of kids walked or biked to school. But by 2009, just 13% did.
That’s why one of our City of Atlanta Policy Agenda recommendations is for the Atlanta Department of Transportation to create a Safe Routes to School program, prioritizing safety for schools near the High-Injury Network. Atlanta’s students deserve reliable City funding that supports their success by establishing safe transportation options that make communities more livable and prevent displacement.
All children benefit from increased physical activity — having safe ways to walk, bike, scoot, or skate to school makes it easier to incorporate exercise into their daily routines. According to the September 2017 Active Transportation Policy Brief for Atlanta Public Schools:
Regular physical activity and higher levels of physical fitness are linked to improved cognitive development, academic performance, and brain function — including attention and memory, plus fewer health related absences.
In the City of Atlanta between 2012-2015, 44 percent of bicycle crashes and 53 percent of pedestrian crashes occurred within a half-mile of an Atlanta school. Programs supporting safe active transportation to and from school improve safety through measures like traffic calming, student education, and infrastructure improvements.
When students start biking or walking to school, it positively affects the whole community. For example, we've discovered that parents also become interested in how they can improve the safety of streets in their communities. It also affords more exercise opportunities for the whole family, and children begin healthy, sustainable habits that can inform their transportation choices later in life.
Leading up to the City of Atlanta’s budget hearings, we’ve spoken with City officials about solidifying funding for a Safe Routes to School program. We’re pleased to report the Atlanta Department of Transportation and the Mayor’s Office have been very receptive — we’re told funding to hire a Safe Routes to School program staffer is slated for Atlanta Department of Transportation’s FY 2022 budget.25 signatures
Help make sure this key program makes it through budget hearings and potential cuts — sign this petition and let your city councilmember and the mayor know Safe Routes to School is critical to happy, healthy, successful students and their families.
It's time for Atlanta's leaders to elevate safe, equitable, sustainable mobility solutions to the top of the agenda.
Join the movement by signing on to our policy agenda today.
Thank you to our partner organizations who have signed our 2021 Policy Agenda!161 signatures
Explore our 2021 Policy Agenda Recommendations for City of Atlanta and Atlanta Board of Education:
City of Atlanta: Safety
Make streets measurably safer for people biking, walking, and using scooters or wheelchairs.
City of Atlanta: Transit & Affordability
Increase access to transit and affordability of housing.
City of Atlanta: Funding
Comprehensively fund Atlanta's sustainable transportation infrastructure.
Atlanta Board of Education
Make it possible for kids to safely get to and from school on foot, bike, transit, and other modes.
We urgently need Atlanta's leaders to adopt and implement equitable mobility recommendations.
Transportation is an essential part of everyone’s life. When it doesn’t work well, we miss out on job opportunities, have limited access to housing options, are exposed to unsafe streets or polluted air, or have our freedom of movement restricted due to the lack of reasonable options. When transportation is good, it is essential — even enjoyable, because it just works. We might notice kids biking to school, experience the ease of crossing the street safely, or relax while listening to music as we look out the window from a bus in a dedicated lane.
Yet as the pandemic continues, people face greater risks and barriers while in transit. Despite fewer miles driven, more people died on Georgia roads in 2020, likely due to an increase in speeding. And, people riding public transportation experienced dramatic cutbacks to bus routes, leading to longer walks to the nearest bus stop, often on streets that lack sidewalks.
This policy agenda is about creating viable transportation options that are safe, easy, accessible, and enjoyable for everyone.
Equitable transportation policies and projects provide physical and social mobility, as well as access to living-wage jobs, affordable housing, healthcare, and quality education. Affordable mobility options give people economic and social opportunities, especially in communities racially profiled for disinvestment that continue to suffer disproportionately from traffic fatalities. Green options reduce the transportation sector’s impact on climate change, an existential threat to communities.
Working with our partners and stakeholders, we created three policy recommendation categories: Safety, Transit and Affordability, and Funding. In addition, we have a policy agenda for the Atlanta Board of Education. Please join us in sharing these recommendations with our leaders as we work to create a more equitable city through mobility.
Community Organizations Urge CDC to Prioritize and Protect Transit As Safe, Equitable Public Good
As our society starts to re-open in ways that keep people safe, the undersigned organizations believe we should focus on supporting those disproportionately impacted by both COVID-19 infections and the economic harm inflicted by the pandemic, which have hit communities of color hardest. Yet the CDC’s “COVID-19 Employer Information for Office Buildings” released last week include a disturbing willingness to give up on ensuring transit is safe for riders and operators, the majority of whom are people of color.
The CDC guidance from May 28th recommended: “for employees who commute to work using public transportation or ride sharing, consider offering the following support: offer employees incentives to use forms of transportation that minimize close contact with others, such as offering reimbursement for parking for commuting to work alone or single-occupancy rides.
By June 1, the CDC had added “biking and walking” to “driving or riding by car either alone or with household members” and removed the reference to reimbursing parking. They also added a link on “how to protect yourself when using transportation” with more neutral guidance on all kinds of transportation.
Any guidance from the CDC that tells people to stay away from public transportation is not the answer. What’s more, it’s irrelevant to the lives of the many who rely on transit. Transit is a public good. Our society should focus on protecting it, not telling people to avoid it.
It is imperative that we invest in making transit safe for riders and operators. Anything less undermines the dignity of the essential workers who use transit and who operate transit. Many people don't have another option. Sixteen percent of Atlanta households don’t have access to a motor vehicle. The families residing in these households include our frontline and essential workers.
What’s more, by riding transit people contribute to a social benefit --- better air quality. COVID-19, a respiratory pandemic, is made even more deadly by a reliance on driving alone. Particulate matter in the air kills, and it kills people in low-income communities of color at higher rates.
For the CDC
- CDC’s guidance on protecting yourself when using transportation includes all modes: “Public transit, rideshares and taxis, micro-mobility devices, and personal vehicles.” Their guidance to employers reopening office buildings should do the same. Transit is not inherently unsafe.
- If office buildings can be made safe enough for employees to return, transit must be given the same or greater consideration. In other cities around the world, densely-packed transit systems have continued to operate without increasing the number of cases, seemingly due to widespread adoption of face masks.
For transit agencies, including MARTA
- MARTA recently cited concerns about enforcement and political debates among reasons not to require riders wear masks, but masks should be encouraged and even provided. Transit agencies should ensure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is widely available to transit riders and operators: for example, through mask and glove dispensers and hand sanitizing stations at all entrances and exits and on platforms. They should launch public awareness campaigns to encourage mask wearing. Emerging research is showing that awareness and changing expectations to normalize mask use have the benefit of being more effective than enforcement.
- They should provide operators and other personnel access to sick leave and policies that encourage them to stay home if they feel sick and make sure those who keep the system clean have plentiful cleaning supplies and equipment. Transit agencies can also take the lead in creating an innovation market for sanitation and cleanliness.
- When too many buses come in a row or are too far apart, it becomes harder to social distance on transit. Cities should invest in bus lanes to keep buses moving, as well as other transportation infrastructure that prioritizes essential workers.
- Companies and large employers should use their influence and connections to support the necessary investments to make transit safe for everyone.
- They should also adopt policies that actively foster sustainable transportation options, including biking, walking, and riding transit, for their employees and commit to making sustainable transportation the first choice in commuting for their companies.
About the Partners
- TransFormation Alliance, a broad partnership of organizations from the private, public and nonprofit sectors dedicated to creating thriving, mixed-income communities anchored by transit and linked to all the opportunities and amenities that make Atlanta great.
- Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, an advocacy organization dedicated to creating an Atlanta where everyone moves safely, easily, and sustainably throughout the city.
- MARTA Army, an independent grassroots action group, committed to enhancing the ridership experience on public transit here in Metro Atlanta.
- Central Atlanta Progress, a private nonprofit community development organization providing leadership, programs and services to preserve and strengthen the economic vitality of Downtown Atlanta.
- Thread ATL, a non-profit that aims to influence Atlanta’s planning and design decisions toward a greater focus on good urbanism
- PEDS, dedicated to making streets and communities in Georgia, safe, inviting, and accessible to all pedestrians.
- Generator, bringing people together to generate ideas that shape the future of cities.
Join us in urging the CDC to include all modes of transportation in their guidance to employers reopening office buildings.
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.181 signatures
Click here for more background on our campaign for a safe and complete DeKalb Ave.