Peachtree Street for people

This week the City of Atlanta announced it would remove the Peachtree Street shared space pilot project. The three-block pilot was intended to test the benefits of converting a general traffic lane to space for people outside of cars. By most accounts, the project achieved its goals – 27% more people walking on the street and 11% fewer motor vehicles – but also attracted some powerful detractors

Urbanize reports “...that contingent includes Richard Bowers, president of commercial real estate firm Richard Bowers and Co. Sources including downtown residents indicate Bowers opposed the changes to Peachtree Street from the beginning and was influential in the city’s decision to remove shared lanes. Robyn Jackson, the downtown neighborhood association’s president, said the group’s research indicates Bowers hired half a dozen lobbying firms at $10,000 each last year to help influence state-level policymakers.”

Rumor has it the final straw was a state policymaker from outside of Atlanta drafting legislation to ban all Georgia cities from removing what engineers call “capacity” – lanes for motor vehicles – from streets.

That would be disastrous for the work of groups like ours and advocates across Georgia. 

March 14th Save Safe Peachtree protest. Credit: Rebecca Serna

What’s next for Peachtree Street? We have questions!

  • Community members voted through Downtown Decides to spend $225,000 of Atlanta City Council District 2’s funds on safety for Peachtree Street. What will happen to that planned investment? 
  • This week the Atlanta Regional Commission Livable Centers Initiative announced $1.5M in funding for the long-term, permanent transformation of these blocks of Peachtree Street into a ‘shared space’ to “better accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists and create a livelier street-level environment.” What will happen to those funds? Will they have to be returned or is the City of Atlanta committed to installing the longer-term version of the project? 
  • What message this action will send to community members and potential Department of City Planning Commissioner candidates about the City’s commitment to planned projects? 
  • What happens the next time a City of Atlanta project draws the ire of someone with state connections – will the threat of legislation prevent other safe streets projects?

A group formed quickly this week to oppose the change: Save Peachtree. Visit their website to sign a petition or learn more about an in-person, peaceful gathering at the intersection of Andrew Young International Blvd NW and Peachtree St NE Monday, March 14th at 4 pm. 

The next steps the City takes will say a great deal. We join other advocates asking the City of Atlanta to demonstrate its commitment to creating a Peachtree Street for people. 

March 14th Save Safe Peachtree protest. Photo credit: Kelly Jordan

March 14th Save Safe Peachtree protest. Photo credit: Kelly Jordan

March 14th Save Safe Peachtree protest. Photo credit: Kelly Jordan

March 14th Save Safe Peachtree protest. Photo credit: Kelly Jordan