People have been advocating for safety on Boulevard for years — whether you’ve been involved with A Safer Boulevard, left public comment about safety issues on South Boulevard back in 2016, set up a “Slow Down” or “Drive 25” sign in your yard, or attended one of last week’s South Boulevard complete streets meetings, it’s been made clear: this community needs safety improvements for people who walk, ride, and roll on Boulevard ASAP.
Last week, Atlanta Department of Transportation (ATLDOT) presented two project options for South Boulevard (extending from Woodward Avenue to McDonough Boulevard) via virtual public engagement meetings:
- An 18-24-month road diet project with a bi-directional bike facility (also known as a cycle track) project funded by local bond funds. These funds are already available to be used for the project.
- A 5-to-10-year complete streets project using the local bond funds as a match to receive additional Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) funding. This would include the cycle track as listed above, plus Rectangular Red Flashing Beacons (RRFB) at existing crosswalks, curb and sidewalk repairs, concrete bulb outs and delineated on-street parking, new traffic signals south of Atlanta Avenue, and concrete islands added at crosswalks.
View the presentation including details on both proposed options here.
We are advocating for the first option — the project that is expected to be completed in 18 to 24 months — but with the below suggested improvements to the design to make South Boulevard safer.
We can’t wait five to ten more years to improve safety on South Boulevard. Every day, people in surrounding neighborhoods walk and roll on Boulevard to get to their pharmacies, grocery stores, and jobs, and to access Grant Park or the BeltLine — this street is critical for essential transportation, recreational trips, and community health needs. We can’t ask people to wait ten years for slowed down traffic and safer infrastructure, especially since the ARC funding is not secured. The lack of safe multi-modal infrastructure combined with the road’s vehicle-prioritizing engineering encourages alarming levels of speeding and calls for an upgrade as soon as possible. We’ve shared this view with A Safer Boulevard and they agree — neighbors need safety improvements with a guaranteed funding path now.
While we would like to see the City move forward on the shorter-term project, there are a few significant safety issues we see with the proposed project. We propose the following:
- Build single directional Light Individual Transportation (LIT) lanes on both sides of the street rather than as one two-directional cycle track: Two-directional LIT lanes create less-safe transitions into and out of the lane. Additionally, they allow the bare minimum amount of street to be set aside for bikes and scooters, often in order to keep prioritizing cars. Instead, we want the project to include protected LIT lanes on both sides of the street.
- Make LIT lanes continuous throughout the project: This project proposes the LIT lane to start and stop intermittently — nothing from the Glenwood Avenue to Sydney Street section, cycle track begins at Sydney Street then ends at United Avenue with a gap going to Atlanta Avenue, cycle track picks back up from Atlanta Avenue to McDonough Boulevard. Requiring multi-modal users to merge with car traffic as they enter and exit the LIT lane so often is dangerous. If traveling the length of the project, they would either have to merge with car traffic going south or cross the three lanes of traffic to continue traveling north on multiple occasions. The project’s proposed remedy for this is that people utilize Grant Park’s parallel multi-modal connections between United Avenue to Atlanta Avenue; however, those paths through Grant Park involve multiple winding, drastic elevation changes. This solution is impractical and follows the legacy of motor vehicle-prioritization.
- Prioritize people walking: is there anything else that could be done through this mid-term project to enhance safety for people walking?
Lastly, we welcome the speed limit reduction from 35 mph to 25 mph! Safe speeds are critically important to eliminating traffic deaths and injuries — over the last few decades pedestrian fatalities have consistently increased on roads with speed limits above 35 mph (Schneider, 2020¹). We also urge the City to reduce speeds through engineering that prioritizes safety for people who walk, ride, and roll on South Boulevard and across Atlanta.
The deadline to submit public comment for the South Boulevard project is Friday, February 26! Whether or not your stance aligns with ours, we hope you will make your voice heard on the South Boulevard project. You can find the public comment form here. Once completed, please email the form to [email protected].
Thank you for your advocacy! We’ll continue to be in touch with you on South Boulevard and other infrastructure projects throughout the city.
|Submit South Boulevard Public Comment by February 26|
Photo provided by Grant Park neighbor, Michael Mullins