Create a City of Atlanta Department of Transportation for a cohesive transportation planning and project delivery process that better leverages resources.
The increased demand for transportation options and the desire for context-sensitive approaches to transportation infrastructure that prioritize safety, equity, and accessibility requires a new approach to how we plan and deliver projects. The creation of a City of Atlanta Department of Transportation (ATL DOT) is fundamental to meeting these demands. Creating an ATL DOT would restructure our current transportation, public works and planning tools in order to better leverage resources and streamline project delivery.
Since the ATL DOT would govern the full lifecycle of transportation projects — from planning, project identification, project funding, and project design, to implementation and maintenance — an ATL DOT would have the capacity and, thus, the responsibility, to work strategically.
Currently, Atlanta’s transportation planning and services are distributed primarily between the Department of City Planning (DCP, formerly Department of Planning and Community Development) and the Department of Public Works (DPW) Georgia Department of Transportation, the PATH Foundation, and the Atlanta Beltline. In general, DCP, through its Office of Mobility Planning, is responsible for transportation planning, while DPW is responsible for approvals, operation and maintenance of transportation facilities and infrastructure.
According to a recent study conducted by Georgia Tech graduate students, the absence of a centralized transportation department in the City of Atlanta cleaves the transportation roles in half, forcing the two departments to operate under unclear divisions of responsibilities and scope. Handing off transportation projects from DCP to DPW is often not a clear-cut process, and interdepartmental communications and collaboration tend to be ad hoc. This lack of definitive oversight leads to backlogs, conflicting priorities, and confusion over jurisdictions that may hinder the ability to effectively devise and implement cohesive transportation strategy for the City of Atlanta.
The question of whether to create a centralized transportation department is not new. The City of Atlanta can learn from other cities that have recently restructured their transportation governance in order to improve project delivery and policy implementation.The City of Oakland (population 420,005; San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland metro population 8.8 million) successfully created an Oakland Department of Transportation (OakDOT) in June 2016. The concept of OakDOT was formally introduced in Spring 2015 and championed by the newly elected Mayor. The City of Pittsburgh (pop. 303,625; metro pop. 2.3 million) commissioneda study to explore alternatives of new transportation agency structure, as well as Denver and Wichita have also commissioned studies.
The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition recommends that elected officials:
Review the study commissioned by City Council Member Andre Dickens as soon as it’s published to create a sound strategic plan that addresses financial budgeting and staff realignment, ensures public transparency, and captures organizational and institutional knowledge, as well as clearly outlining a transition schedule.
Immediately appoint an “Interim Director of Transportation” whose tasks include setting up the department with minimal political pressure and after 9 months appointing a permanent Director, whose task would be to oversee the above mentioned strategic plan, facilitating communication within existing departments, and engaging employees and stakeholders in the process of governance restructuring. The Director of Transportation will report to the Mayor and Chief of Staff and will lead both the reorganization process and the newly created Department of Transportation.
Ensure a cohesive vision and clear goals for transportation are set to direct the works of ATL DOT.
Ensure clear performance metrics and benchmarks are established to allow effective evaluation of the ATL DOT’s works and accountability.
The Downtown Atlanta Master Plan is hosting their final public meeting today and you'll want to see what they have in store for Downtown's Bicycle Network.
First the not-so-good. They are proposing removing the Peachtree Center Avenue protected two-way bike lane. They want to replace it with dedicated lanes for buses! Our jaws dropped when we saw this slide.
Here's what could make the project list potentially great: it opens the door for high-quality bike facilities on Peachtree Street, the (bicycle) heart and hub of Atlanta. But we can't consider removing protected bike lanes on Peachtree Center Avenue without replacing them with a bikeway on Peachtree Street.
Now the good news - north-south protected bike lanes are proposed for both Piedmont and Courtland (one way on each street). These protected bike lanes will connect with Midtown's protected bike lanes on Piedmont and Juniper/Courtland.
But we need you to attend the Downtown Atlanta Master Plan public meeting (also on Facebook here) and show your support for safe space for biking on Peachtree Street.Read more
Update: the Howell Mill complete street project made it onto the City Council approved list for Renew/TSPLOST funding! We'll celebrate at the kickoff to Atlanta Streets Alive Cross-City on Sunday, June 9th.
Howell Mill Road and Marietta Street are the primary roadways for what was once a heavy industrial meat-packing district on the Westside. Now, development, density, and desirable destinations have exploded in the area and exposed the need for a safer and more accessible way to connect this critical north-south corridor to the rest of the city. Marietta Street bike lanes were added in December 2018. The Howell Mill Complete Street remained in the Renew Atlanta/TSPLOST prioritization process in early 2019.
Now the City needs to build the Howell Mill Complete Street.
Howell Mill Road is a key north-south corridor that connects the Upper Westside, Georgia Tech and Downtown Atlanta. Howell Mill Road, between Collier Road and W. Marietta Street, is set to become a Complete Street through the Renew Atlanta bond, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2015.
After a well-received public meeting on October 26, 2016, which covered the main elements of the Complete Street project, the project has remained dormant. What we see on Howell Mill Road is a street that hasn't kept up with development, density, and vision of a corridor that prioritizes the needs of people who bike, walk, and drive.
Ultimately, the success of this north-south corridor depends on the successful implementation of the Howell Mill Road Complete Street project, which in turn connects to the DeKalb Avenue Complete Street project.
Failing to create a safe, direct bicycle connection between Marietta and Howell Mill Road violates the recommendations made in the Cycle Atlanta Plan Phase 1.0.
The goal of this state road project is to make Moreland Avenue safer for people on foot and on bike, between Mansfield and Austin Aves. (Several years ago, a person riding a bike was killed in this section as they pulled out onto Moreland.)
The state DOT's concept report states "studies show that an increase in pedestrian, cycling and vehicular volumes has taken place along the corridor. Crash data from 2008-2013 indicates that approximately 252 crashes occurred along SR 42/Moreland Ave from Dekalb Ave to McClendon Ave. Of these crashes, six were pedestrian injuries and one was a bike fatality."
Neighborhood bike advocates and the City of Atlanta Planning Office have been involved in the design, and did not settle for painted bike lanes. Instead, the current design includes a raised bike lane, as well as wider sidewalks and safe crossings. While barrier-separated, protected bike lanes on busy roads are always the safest option, they may not be possible on Moreland because NACTO guidelines recommend a minimum of 3' to add a raised barrier.
Here’s what was presented at the public meeting June 7, 2017:
Bike lanes raised 3” above the street level and 3” below the sidewalk level.
Bike lanes would be 7’ wide - including a 2’ painted buffer.
Timeline - During Summer 2017, they will stripe standard bike lanes for a quick safety improvement and reduce lane widths on general lanes to reduce speeds. In 2019, bicycle lanes upgraded to raised.
Here's what we told GDOT - feel free to include this in your comment supporting the project:
- We support high quality, raised bike lanes and pedestrian crossings for SR 42/Moreland Avenue from Dekalb Avenue to Mansfield Avenue.
To make the project even better, find a way to add a barrier between the raised bike lane and the general travel lane, so that people on bikes are separated from all those trucks. While the idea of separating people on foot from those on bikes is a good one, it's all relative. Trucks have the potential to do more damage to a person biking in a crash, so we think it's more important to separate those two modes from each other.
Add a crossing near the DeKalb Avenue interchange, and make the exit ramp from DeKalb form a "T" intersection, to encourage drivers entering Moreland to make a full stop first.
- We like the diagonal crossing at Euclid as a way to make that crossing safer and easier for people on bikes, and it helps make up for the lack of bike lanes north of Euclid.
Read GDOT's Response to Public Comment Here: GDOT's Response to 6/7/17 Open House Comments
Memorial Drive is a 5.5-mile east-west thoroughfare that cuts through eight neighborhoods. Despite being home to five schools and numerous homes and apartments, Memorial Drive functions more like a highway than a street that connects neighborhoods. Speeds regularly reach 60 miles per hour, even at school crossings, yet it’s a short driving distance from I-20, an actual highway serving the same area. Georgia Department of Transportation noted there have been 1,000 crashes in the past five years on Memorial Drive. That’s nearly one crash per day.
In 2014, Councilmember Natalyn Archibong commissioned a study of the corridor. You can learn more about the Imagine Memorial project on the Central Atlanta Progress website. Several important projects are tied to Imagine Memorial’s success, like the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Livable Centers Initiative, the City of Atlanta’s neighborhood greenways and Trolley Line Trail projects, and the Atlanta BeltLine.
On March 21, 2017, a woman was killed trying to cross Memorial Drive.
Just two months earlier, on January 27, 2017, a mother was killed and her seven-year-old daughter put in urgent care by a high-speed crash.
Neighbors throughout the corridor came together to make Memorial Drive safe for communities.
Councilmember Archibong asked the Georgia Department of Transportation to identify traffic calming measures that would make Memorial Drive a safer corridor for people biking and walking.
In 2019, the City of Atlanta and Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) installed a "road diet," which converted the two inside lanes into a center turn lane. This has made the street safer for everyone.
Atlanta is poised to take the next big leap forward. But it needs elected officials with the vision and commitment to deliver high-quality projects that encourage mobility and discourage snarling gridlock. It needs leaders with the courage to put the safety of people before high-speed traffic that places our families and vulnerable road users at risk on a daily basis.
We are committed to giving you all the information you need to make the best decision this election cycle. We may not be able to endorse candidates, but we can show you where they stand on issues important you.
Check out our election resources below and BIKE THE VOTE!
These are the core policies and goals we believe the next Mayor and City Council must adopt if Atlanta wants to continue to compete for the best talent in the world while improving the quality of life for Atlantans who have been historically disadvantaged and marginalized by a lack of transportation options.
- Create a City of Atlanta Department of Transportation, for a cohesive transportation planning and project delivery process that better leverages resources
Adopt the Street Design Policy drafted by the Department of Planning
Make housing more affordable by eliminating the minimum number of car parking spaces required for housing developments
Build 100 NEW miles of high-quality bike lanes and trails (we currently have 104 miles) to connect the city, including 20 NEW miles of protected bike lanes (we currently have 4 miles)
Publish schedule for sweeping streets with bike lanes, and prioritize bike lanes for clean up after winter storms
Add a $2.5 million line item to the City’s General Fund annually, to connect gaps in the bikeway network and enhance safety of existing projects
Ensure quality bicycle transportation by hiring transportation engineers with training and experience designing bicycle projects
Set a city goal of zero traffic deaths, and create a data-driven approach in which multiple city departments collaborate to reduce roadway crashes and fatalities to zero, because no one should die trying to get where they are going.
Prevent fatal roadway crashes by standardizing the speed limit on residential streets to 25 mph
Provide access to last-mile healthy transportation options by prioritizing installation of bike share stations in low-income, disinvested, and disconnected neighborhoods
Questions about our platform or our engagement events? Please contact Bennett Foster at email@example.com or call 404-881-1112 x 2.
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.
Click here for more background on our campaign for a safe and complete DeKalb Ave.
About the initiative
Our Bike Champions program hires, trains, and supports community members to encourage biking in their neighborhoods. Champions engage communities with information and opportunities to bike for transportation, health, and fun and to advocate for safe streets for all.
In the first year of the program, Champions energized Westside neighborhood involvement with Relay, the City of Atlanta’s bike share program. In the program’s second year, Champions were selected from residents of Neighborhood Planning Unit V (NPU-V) to encourage the use of bike share and install resident-requested bike infrastructure, such as racks at schools. Entering its third year, the Waterfall cohort of Bike Champions will activate community involvement in biking and support for safe streets with the neighborhood elementary school at the heart of the work. As kids get on bikes through our Shifting Gears program, their families, teachers, and “the village” will be engaged with biking.
Phase 1 - Atlanta's Westside
To build a strong base of bike share users in Atlanta’s westside neighborhoods, the City of Atlanta and several community organizations received grant funding to launch “Atlanta Bike Share Champions” which then became the "Atlanta Bike Champions" in 2016-2017. Through this new program, 10 people were hired to manage community outreach and education about biking and bike share in Atlanta’s westside neighborhoods.
This project primarily served community members from neighborhoods on the westside of Atlanta, including the Atlanta University Center (Clark Atlanta, Morehouse, and Spelman), the West End, Vine City, and English Avenue.
A recurring community goal from the many studies and conversations of and with westside communities is workforce development and access for residents to job opportunities and career training. The Champions program provides westside residents the opportunity for paid training and work, creates a pipeline to employment, and helps spread awareness that bike share is a useful transportation and health tool for residents of westside neighborhoods.
The Champions were recruited and trained by local community-based nonprofits and businesses to conduct direct outreach at community meetings events to raise awareness of bike share and generate interest in its use.
The program was made possible with funding from PeopleForBikes and the Better Bike Share Partnership, a national initiative administering $900,000 of grant funds across three years to recipients across the country that are working to make bike share programs more equitable. These grants were made possible with funding from the JPB Foundation.
Additionally, matching funds were provided by the Atlanta Regional Commission via the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness Partnerships to Improve Community Health.
Phase 2 - NPU V, August 2017 to summer 2018
In 2017, the City of Atlanta expanded to 500 bicycles and 70+ bike share stations and will grow to 1,000 bikes, with an emphasis on installing stations south of I-20. As the City continues to increase access to bike share, the system will soon include Atlanta’s NPU-V neighborhoods of Adair Park, Capitol Gateway, Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, Pittsburgh, and Summerhill.
On August 5, 2017, we launched phase 2 of the Bike Champions project, focusing on these neighborhoods of NPU V, with funding support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Atlanta Regional Commission and Fulton County's PICH program, and PeopleForBikes.
Five Champions from NPU V worked to expand awareness and love for bike share. Visit www.atlantabike.org/champions_npuv to learn more.
Phase 3 - Waterfall cohort
During our third year, the Bike Champions’ engagement efforts will focus around our work in nine Atlanta Public Schools -- a program we call Shifting Gears -- and advocacy for streets that are safe enough for everyone, particularly children who bike or walk to school. We piloted Shifting Gears in four Atlanta elementary schools during the 2017-18 academic year and are expanding to nine in the 2018-19 school year. Shifting Gears provides bicycle safety training and access to bikes for 2nd graders.
Neighborhood interest spiked during our pilot year as a result of the Shifting Gears program.
As we add five more schools in the second year of Shifting Gears, Bike Champions will be recruited and trained to support this education initiative. They will reach beyond the school grounds into the surrounding communities. Champions will assist with in-school bike classes, and also conduct outreach and engagement with family members and other adults connections to Shifting Gears students, many of whom face transportation, health, and financial challenges that bicycles and multimodal transportation can help ease. The programs will mutually reinforce bicycle safety awareness and, we hope, generate more support for safe streets for people of all ages.
Safe streets are essential to achieving our mission, as the research shows few people will ride bikes if their community lacks safe streets and bicycle infrastructure.
Our street campaigns aim to make Atlanta more accessible by connecting neighborhoods, jobs, social destinations, and transit. With your help, we can transform Atlanta's streets into livable, walkable, and bikeable boulevards that connect, rather than divide, our city. Each street is different. Whether we are advocating lane reconfigurations, bike lanes or trails, traffic calming, or safer crossings, all streets in our city should be safe for people. Click on the images below for advocacy and project updates.
Active Street Campaigns
The following campaigns resulted in enhanced safety on our streets:
Peachtree Street is Atlanta's most iconic street. It connects Downtown and Midtown, and it's home to major landmarks, businesses, and tourist destinations. Peachtree is the heart of the city. MARTA trains, buses, and the Streetcar pump up and down the corridor while the long, flat, direct nature of the street attracts people who bike - even without bike facilities.
There are a couple of ways to expand mobility options on Peachtree Street in powerful and distinct ways. In Downtown, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition supports the shared street concept proposed in the Downtown Atlanta Master Plan, adopted by City Council in December 2017. While in Midtown we are advocating for parking protected bike lanes.
Shared Street Concept in Downtown
"Atlanta's Signature Streets, as it traverses Downtown, should be one where residents, workers, and visitors can come together at all times of the day -- on foot, on bike, by car, and by Streetcar." - Downtown Atlanta Master Plan
Shared Streets enhance the feel of the street, encouraging users to stroll and allowing the street to serve many modes and users simultaneously. The goal of the Peachtree Shared Street Concept is two-fold. The Peachtree Shared Street puts people and transit first; it also improves the interaction of the buildings and street, essentially removing the distance and barriers between patrons and businesses while maximizing the public space on Peachtree Street.
There are a few design/implementation considerations:
- Bicyclists need to share the street at a leisurely pace and follow painted markings or pavement differentiations to reduce conflicts with Streetcar tracks
- Reduction of travel width to two lanes, one in each direction
- Enhanced pedestrian streetscape to include a protected buffer of share trees, street furniture
- Removal of curb cuts to reduce turning conflicts
- Consider bollards to restrict vehicle access
Protected Bike Lanes in Midtown
The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition envisions a Peachtree Street that’s safe for people to bike or walk. We want high-quality, protected bike lanes separated from cars by on-street parking where space permits, with protected left turn lanes at key intersections, from Pine Street to Peachtree Circle.
The fact that people already bike on Peachtree regularly is one of the biggest reasons to make it more bike friendly. Bike lanes are a great way to calm traffic, and let drivers and bikers arrive faster and safer.
While we support the alternative one-way street options on Juniper, W Peachtree, and Spring St.. Bike lanes on one-way roads may confuse users. Because downtown is not a grid-block system, many people on bikes will not know to cross to another street, and may bike in the wrong direction, thus creating a dangerous situation for people biking and driving.
- Bikes are good for business. Studies show that people on bikes frequent shops more often than drivers, and make purchases more often.
- Customers need access to shops and workers need a safe route to work. Bike lanes already exist on the south end of Peachtree Street, but they end before hitting the commercial areas.
- Bike share is here! The city is offering hundreds of bike share (rental) bikes for people to use on Peachtree, but without protected bike lanes, people may not feel safe.
For more info on this campaign, please click here.