I love biking downtown for the convenience and joy it brings, but it hasn't been especially safe or easy for as long as I can remember.
When our offices were on Mitchell Street I met a small business owner whose company was nearby. A few years ago he was biking home from work when he was hit by a car driver, breaking several bones, knocking out a few teeth, and resulting in months of surgery and physical therapy and lost productivity. He's back on the bike now but is understandably wary of riding on streets without a designated, protected space for people on bikes and other small wheels.
Last week we celebrated the Atlanta Department of Transportation's installation of a protected space for people using bikes and scooters on two blocks of Central Ave (here's an interview I did with Atlanta News First). Collective action made this happen!
This and the other downtown bike lanes are the seed of a network that will allow more people to safely get places by bike, once they are connected (and providing cars can be prevented from blocking them).
Let's create a longer north-south connection by linking up with the protected bike lanes already in place on Peachtree Center Avenue and connecting to Georgia State. This would also make the Five Points MARTA Station more accessible by bike. The Georgia Department of Transportation has a planned project replacing the Central Ave bridge in 2024, presenting a relatively quick chance to make this happen.
However, the City has described the 2 blocks of Central Ave bike lane as a pilot. The experience with the Peachtree Shared Street — a pilot that was removed with no next steps identified for the popular project — raises questions about its permanence.
Back on Central, the traffic advisory stated "...at the conclusion of the six-month data recording period, a determination will be made on the permanent implementation of the Central Avenue corridor as it relates to the Vision Zero plan and safety standards."
We followed up with the ATLDOT to learn more about the pilot aspect. Here's what we were told: the pilot refers to testing the change from 4 to 2 vehicular travel lanes due to concerns about causing more traffic congestion. If congestion is determined to be excessive they would remove the lane of parking but keep the buffered bike lane. (However, that's not stated in the traffic advisory.) We also learned the City filled the barricades with water to keep them in place, but someone drained and moved them aside.
At the Atlanta City Council Transportation committee meeting March 29, we asked three questions:
- How will the City measure success?
- What do those metrics need to be in order for the pilot to be deemed successful?
- How long after the 6-month pilot will it take to install the permanent version?
What can you do as we wait for answers?
On Friday, September 29th (6 months from now) we will either have a party or a protest. Save the date!