The Buckhead CID and Georgia Department of Transportation's Peachtree Road project started as a safety initiative to reduce crashes - mainly car crashes. It proposed taking advantage of a repaving opportunity to convert Peachtree Road from a 6 lane free-for-all into 5 organized lanes with two-way left turn lanes.
But the brouhaha in Buckhead over bike lanes has overshadowed the safety benefits of the project.
Bike lanes on Peachtree Road would connect with the BeltLine and form an important link in our city's bike network. Please attend the public meeting on the future of Peachtree Thursday, October 29 from 5-7pm at the Shepherd Center, 2020 Peachtree Road.
Read more to find out about the project's background and how you can get involved.
While it's always a challenge to reduce lanes on a congested street, the 5 lane configuration with bike lanes gets the highest ratings when it comes to safety, and crashes are among the biggest contributors to congestion - just listen to the morning traffic report.
Due to the "increasingly vocal anti-bike lane Atlantans" and pushback from neighborhoods adjacent to Peachtree Road, GDOT is offering a modified plan that removed bike lanes from half the corridor. (Here's our response to the piece above: ATL Bicycle Coalition Leader Responds to Anti-Bike Outcry.)
Political considerations should not trump safety. Let's add Peachtree Road to the city's growing network of streets that are accessible by bike, foot, bus, and car - Complete Streets for all, rather than highways filled with congestion and traffic. People on bikes need to get to places on Peachtree just like anyone else, including connecting to the BeltLine.
Peachtree Road is where it's at - from retail to jobs, to restaurants, to higher density residences, to transit access, Peachtree Road has destinations people traveling the corridor on foot, bike, or bus need to reach.
The modified plan suggests diverting bike traffic to neighborhood streets north of Peachtree Battle. While we are very interested in exploring neighborhood greenways that provide traffic calming and safety benefits for people walking and biking, we don't think this alternate route is the right solution for Peachtree Road as it wouldn't serve people who need to get to work or home on Peachtree itself.
Because this is a state project, and state funding could not be used to build the alternative route, the city's limited funding should be spent instead on pedestrian improvements in the area. A lot more people would walk in this relatively dense part of Atlanta if the sidewalks felt safe and were buffered from speeding traffic by better curbs and bike lanes.
According to GDOT's excellent Complete Streets policy adopted in 2012, "...accommodations for pedestrian, bicycle, and transit modes of transportation be provided under specific compelling conditions along transportation projects with GDOT oversight."
Safety problems - big ones, for all modes of transportation - were what got this project started. The design that would do the most to make Peachtree safer - the five lane design - should be the one that gets built.
Five lanes is plenty because more lanes don't solve congestion. Having the right mix of transportation options, including transit, biking, and walking, give people ways to get out of congestion and get where they're going.
To make this project function safely and well as a bicycle transportation corridor, it needs to do more than stripe a 4' thin white line.
To attract the estimated 60% of the population that is interested in biking but concerned about safety, the bikeway needs to be physically separated from traffic. We want to see bike accommodations on the full length of Peachtree Road get another look. Could the median or turn lanes be reduced by a foot or two? Ten foot lanes are demonstrably safer for everyone, and the extra space could be used to make the bike lanes wider or even add protective bollards.
The Buckhead Community Improvement district has been working to transform Peachtree, targeting a segment at a time with beautification and safety measures like medians, plantings, and, yes, bike lanes.
Read what PEDS and ABC wrote in the Buckhead View: "Designing streets for everybody is goal of pedestrian, biking groups"
Read ABC's response to bike lane brouhaha in Atlanta Curbed: ATL Bicycle Coalition Leader Responds to Anti-Bike Outcry
There are neighborhood leaders who want to see a better outcome for everyone. Check out peachtreeforpeople.org to get involved.
To learn more about the project, view the GDOT slides.
A public meeting on the future of Peachtree will take place October 29 from 5-7pm at the Shepherd Center, 2020 Peachtree Road. Please plan to attend and voice your support for this key part of our city's bike network and connection to the BeltLine! If we don't add bike lanes as part of this project, we may not have another chance for years to come.
According to the Buckhead CID,
"The Peachtree Transformation is taking a pedestrian-unfriendly suburban arterial and creating a sophisticated, attractive complete street by adding granite curbing and medians, hardwood trees, seasonal color landscaping, bike lanes, wide sidewalks, modern lighting, buried utility lines, street furniture, and dedicated left turn lanes at signaled intersections.
Phases three and four are part of a larger system enhancement called “operation improvements” of Peachtree Road extending south to Spring Street in Midtown.
The primary goal of the project is to reduce crashes by modifying the existing roadway cross-section to include designated left-turn lanes lanes and potentially bike lanes. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is leading the other phases of the project in coordination with the City of Atlanta and Midtown Alliance."