Safety, mobility, and affordability are at the heart of Atlanta’s Transportation Plan approved by City Council and there have been plans to replace the reversible lane and add bike lanes and turn lanes on DeKalb for decades (Candler Park Master Plan, Connect Atlanta Plan).
In 2018, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition started questioning the Renew Atlanta's progress building the promised Complete Streets. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' staff then identified major funding shortfalls in the Renew Atlanta/TSPLOST programs that would jeopardize long overdue projects.
There is still tremendous demand for a safe and complete DeKalb Avenue. At our 2018 Atlanta Streets Alive - Eastside! 74,000 people biked, walked, skated, or pushed strollers at Atlanta Streets Alive. That’s nearly a week’s worth of car traffic crammed into 4 hours on a street that carries about 18,000 vehicles per day. This route connected 11 Atlanta neighborhoods -- Downtown, Sweet Auburn, Old Fourth Ward, Cabbagetown, Inman Park, Little Five Points, Reynoldstown, Candler Park, Edgewood, Lake Claire, and Kirkwood. On June 9th, we're bringing Atlanta Streets Alive back to DeKalb Ave.
Following our successful Atlanta Streets Alive, Renew Atlanta led a public meeting where they stated that the Complete Street project would be divided into two phases, beginning with the removal of the reversible lane. Phase 1 never happened and the reversible lane still remains.
Our vision for DeKalb Avenue
Going back even further
We started advocating for a complete DeKalb Avenue because it is riddled with potholes, has an outdated and dangerous reversible center lane (aka "suicide lane"), lacks bike lanes, and backs up at key intersections due to the lack of turn lanes.
DeKalb Avenue made the Renew Atlanta list as a Complete Street - this would mean potentially removing the reversible "suicide" lane (a long overdue safety improvement) and replacing it with turn lanes at key intersections, as well as repaving the street, and adding bike lanes or a multi-use path, and safer crossings.
These simple changes would transform a dangerous street into a safe connection from Decatur to the BeltLine and Downtown Atlanta.
Whether you walk, bike, drive, take transit, or all of the above, fixing DeKalb Avenue will benefit you.
in 2015 WABE reported that "Heather Alhadeff, an urban planner in Atlanta, says complete streets projects can be a way to reduce congestion, even when a lane of traffic is removed. 'It’s counterintuitive to most people’s thinking, but sometimes slowing down gets you through faster,' she says.
As an example, Alhadeff says to think of a crowd of people all trying to exit through one door in a room. “We’d all get stuck at the door, right?” she says. “So we know that if wait, and you go out first, I’m actually still going to get out faster.”
More than 250 people attended the first Renew Atlanta public meeting in 2016. There was overwhelming support for Complete Streets and a space for people on bikes.
On Wednesday, May 8th, approximately 50 community members and supporters, including parents and students from Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy Elementary School (TAG), turned frustration into action, calling on the City to #RespectCascade . “Walk a Mile in Cascade’s Shoes” served as a day of action to generate attention about the prevalence of injuries on Cascade Road and to honor victims like 52-year-old David Gordon who lost his life crossing the street in a low-visibility crosswalk earlier this year.Read more
Cascade Road, Cascade Avenue, and Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard are three sections of one critical corridor that serves dozens of Southwest Atlanta neighborhoods.
Two of the three sections, Cascade Road and Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard, are part of the High-Injury Network and ranked among the most dangerous roads in the city of Atlanta. The third section -- connecting these two High Injury streets -- is Cascade Avenue.
On January 19, 2019, David Gordon, a 52-year-old beloved longtime resident of Cascade Ave, was struck and killed by a driver while crossing Cascade Ave. He was in a crosswalk. The collision happened less than a quarter-mile mile from where the street name changes to Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard.
A “Complete Street” project was proposed in 2016 to address the hazardous conditions on Cascade Avenue where David lost his life, but Renew Atlanta cut the funding because of budget shortfalls.
Thanks to the persistent work of community leaders and local advocates, in March 2019 Cascade Road in District 11 was funded to become a Complete Street. Complete Streets are roads with safe spaces for people in all modes of transportation, whether they are walking, biking or scooting, and driving. The Cascade Road project will improve access to the Cascade Springs Nature Preserve and create safer streets for biking, walking and driving. A section of Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard in Westview was funded as well and completed in 2018.
The Cascade Avenue section of the corridor received design-only funding for the Complete Street and a budget to resurface the road. Resurfacing this section of Cascade Avenue allows for some minimal safety improvements, such as narrowing lanes and repainting existing crosswalks. What it doesn’t pay for are things like Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons (essentially a red light to protect people using crosswalks), medians, and sidewalks.
Join communities along Cascade Ave in calling on the City of Atlanta to create a safer Cascade through the funded resurfacing project.
On the crash heat map below, the intersection of Cascade Avenue and Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard is marked by glowing red and yellow embers, meaning many people walking have been hit by cars at this crossing.
November 15, 2018
This week, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms launched an effort to prioritize the Renew Atlanta/TSPLOST project list, after she identified major funding shortfalls that would jeopardize long overdue projects that were overwhelmingly approved by voters. As stated in the presentation to the Atlanta City Council Transportation Committee, Renew Atlanta/TSPLOST will prioritize projects based on the safety, mobility, and affordability goals established in the Atlanta Transportation Plan (ATP).
Statement of Atlanta Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Rebecca Serna:
The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition agrees that these goals are fundamental for the construction of Complete Streets. Equity and access are inextricably tied to safety on Atlanta’s streets, and many of the Complete Street projects directly address the dangerous conditions on the High-Injury Network, in which less than 8% of Atlanta’s streets account for 88% of fatalities and 52% of severe injuries. The High-Injury Network is not equally distributed throughout the city -- the majority of streets are located west of Northside Drive or south of I-20.
This is an opportunity for the Mayor to deliver on Renew Atlanta/TSPLOST and restore public trust in the City’s capacity to build meaningful transportation projects. For years, Atlantans have invested their time to attend and give feedback at public meetings about Complete Streets, but instead of greater mobility, in return, they’ve gotten long delays. We’re ready for a new start and we’re hopeful that by following the guiding principles of safety, mobility, and affordability set forth in the Atlanta Transportation Plan, we will see Complete Street projects break ground next year.
It will take bold leadership and vision to get us there - and we’re ready and willing to put in the work alongside the Mayor to make our streets safer for everyone.
If you voted for safe and Complete Streets that provide more mobility and transportation options for everyone, please take the Renew Atlanta/TSPLOST survey and make sure these projects get built.
***Renew Atlanta/TSPLOST will not be presenting to the Transportation Committee this Wednesday, October 24th. We will post an update as soon as we hear about the next meeting.***
88% of Atlanta voters approved the $250-million Renew Atlanta bond back in 2015. After three years of public meetings and bold promises, only one out of 16 Complete Street projects have been built -- and that project didn't have a single public meeting nor was it on the project list shared with voters. Failure to build these projects would defy the will of the voters who overwhelmingly said yes to both the Renew Atlanta bond and TSPLOST.Read more
The City of Atlanta faces major challenges in the realm of transportation, mobility, affordable housing, equity, climate change, and traffic safety.
In 2018 alone, the City will adopt an ambitious Comprehensive Transportation Plan, manage the rise of micro-mobility (scooters and dockless electric bikes), create affordable housing strategies around access to reliable transportation, deal with a backlog of Complete Streets projects under the Renew Atlanta program, meet the goals of Bloomberg's American Cities Climate Challenge, and, finally, confront the reality that the high concentration of crashes on Atlanta's High-Injury Network are preventable.
Is our current transportation structure up to the task?
In 2017, Councilmember At-Large Andre Dickens commissioned a study to find out. The feasibility study was an exhaustive independent review of our current transportation structure. Relying on dozens of stakeholder interviews with transportation professionals both in and outside Atlanta along with a comparative analysis of 11 peer cities across the U.S., the report found alarming deficiencies in our current structure. It proposed that the City "set a goal of consolidating all transportation functions in the City into a stand-alone transportation-focused department, led by a new Commissioner [and] name the agency the 'Atlanta Department of Mobility and Streets (ADMS).'"
Creating an Atlanta Department of Transportation would restructure our current transportation, public works, and planning tools in order to better leverage resources and streamline project delivery. It would be more efficient and better able to implement a strong vision for our city's equitable future.
The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition supports a stand-alone department dedicated to streets and mobility. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Councilmember At-Large Andre Dickens, and Councilmembers and City Leaders across Atlanta agree that the time is now.
What do we want?
After reviewing the feasibility study, our preferred option is for the Mayor to appoint an “Interim Director of Transportation” to establish the department with minimal political pressure.
After 9 months, the mayor would then appoint a permanent Director of Transportation to implement the strategic plan, facilitate communication within existing departments, and engage 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.
Three years after voters overwhelmingly approved the Renew Atlanta bond, in March 2015, just one out of the fifteen Complete Street projects has been completed and only two projects have progressed beyond a quarter of a percent complete.
Now, we're seeing one project after another get kicked down the road to 2020, according to the Renew Atlanta Complete Street Project pages. Construction on phase 1 of DeKalb Avenue was scheduled to start this year but now it won't start until 2020; Cascade Road was also going to start this year but now it's been delayed until 2020. The same goes for Howell Mill Road.
After the most recent open house for Monroe Drive/Boulevard Complete Street, which failed to include a road diet north of 10th Street, it's become clear that the city needs to commit to these Complete Street projects.Read more
The week after my youngest son was born, there were three crashes at the intersection outside my front door on Boulevard, south of I-20. I found myself rushing outside after each crash to see if people needed help. Those violent crashes struck too close to home. They showed me that we may not be in charge of drafting the plans and crunching the numbers, but we are responsible to our communities for setting the vision for how our streets are designed and what results we will accept.
Last year, A Safer Boulevard successfully lobbied to extend the Monroe Drive/Boulevard Complete Street Project south of Woodward Avenue because we want to transform a dangerous part of our public space into an integrated part of our community. Now, here's your chance to advocate for a better, safer Boulevard Drive. I need you to tell Renew Atlanta and Councilmember Carla Smith that you support these safety upgrades and improvements (see below) before the August 10th deadline for public comment.
Build 100 new miles of high-quality bike lanes and trails (the city currently has 104 miles) to connect the city, including 20 new miles of protected bike lanes (currently have 4 miles)
As of January 2017, there were 104 miles of bike lanes and trails in the City of Atlanta; protected bike lanes made up 4 miles. It is important to note that these bike lanes are mostly scattered. In order to make Atlanta’s streets more liveable and bikeable, it is critical that we double the mileage of bike lanes and connect the network.
Building 100 new miles of high-quality bike lanes and trails is attainable. Cycle Atlanta 1.0, a supplement to the Connect Atlanta Plan (Atlanta’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan), called for adding 31 miles of bike lanes to the bike network. As of April 2017, 9.6 miles had been built and 11.45 miles have been funded. Renew Atlanta Bond projects include 30 miles of Complete Streets projects which, by definition, ought to incorporate bike lanes. TSPLOST projects, once implemented, would add approximately 49.5 miles of bike lanes and trails -- 16.2 miles from Complete Street projects, 13 miles of protected bike lanes, and approximately 19.5 miles of trails.
Image Credit: Atlanta’s Transportation Plan
Among the generally accepted four categories of potential bike riders (1. strong and fearless; 2. enthused and confident; 3. interested but concerned; and 4. no way, no how), people who are “interested but concerned” make up the majority of population (60%).
Research shows that their level of comfort and willingness to ride are greatly influenced by the quality of bike facility provided. Connecting gaps in the bikeway network and enhancing quality of existing bike lanes and trails would have enormous effects on the “interested but concerned” potential riders. Responding to the needs of “interested but concerned” group and making more investment in bike infrastructure would create a virtuous cycle of increased ridership and improved bike safety on streets.
Image Credit: Atlanta’s Transportation Plan
Research shows that U.S. cities that focus on connecting their bicycle networks see substantial increases in bike ridership and reductions in crashes, fatalities, and severe injuries involving people on bikes. Atlanta has experienced this surge in ridership when high-quality facilities are provided. For example, between September 2013 and December 2017, ridership increased by 225% on the 10th Street barrier-separated two-way bike lane.
In addition to addressing market demands for bicycle infrastructure, the city should set aggressive mode split goals. Both Portland and Seattle set mode split goals to drive future investments in transportation infrastructure. By setting a target on reducing the percentage of people driving alone for trips, these cities were able to more easily prioritize bicycle and pedestrian improvements before other forms of transportation.
The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition recommends that elected officials:
Set a goal of building and tracking 100 new miles of high-quality bike lanes, including 20 new miles of protected bike lanes.
Secure additional funding to implement the rest of proposed bike lanes (approx. 22 miles) that have not yet been installed, as outlined in Cycle Atlanta 1.0.
Mandate bike infrastructure with new developments and on streets in the city’s planned bicycle network when they are resurfaced.
Set aggressive mode shift goals and prioritize spending for projects that reduce driving alone and increase biking, walking, or transit.
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.