Atlanta seeks to make bike lanes safer, promote policies for walking, cycling
By David Pendered
Atlanta’s bicycling community got a triple jolt of support Monday from the Atlanta City Council.
For starters, the council took a step to improve the safety of cyclists riding in bike lanes. The council approved a resolution asking the Atlanta Police Department to keep dedicated bike lanes clear of parked vehicles. The council asked that APD remove vehicles parked in dedicated lanes, or to have a person in charge of the vehicle move it.
Second, City Council President Doug Shipman appointed to the Urban Design Commission a person with experience in public policy of bicycling. The UDC may best be known for its oversight role in matters of historic structures and districts. The UDC also oversees the design of streets, bridges, elevated ways and viaducts on any property or right-of-way controlled by the city. In addition, the UDC oversees the location and design of future parks and significant changes to existing parks.
Finally, five council members collaborated to appoint an Atlanta resident to the city’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning Commission. The commission is charged with delivering to the city recommendations on safety, education, community involvement, applications, policy and programs, according to the legislation sponsored in 2016 by Councilmember Alex Wan during his previous term on the council.
These efforts have the potential to help set a mobility agenda for the newly installed City Council and administration of Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens.
In the past, the city has sought to pursue a transportation policy intended to support alternate modes of mobility, including walking and biking. Public perception of that support may have been shaken by the administration’s decision this month to remove the Peachtree Shared Space demonstration project.
Advocates rallied in support of the project, but the administration removed the measures that were intended to evaluate various devices of transportation management intended to enhance safety for those not traveling by car or truck.
The legislation asking police to clear bike lanes begins by noting that the council in 2019 established a penalty for the improper use of bike lanes. It mirrors that of vehicular parking on a sidewalk. The code advises scofflaws that city code authorizes APD to “move vehicles or require the driver or other person in charge of the vehicle to move the vehicle to a position off the roadway where the vehicle is found parked within a designated bicycle lane in violation of Chapter 150, Section 150-65(b)(4) of the City of Atlanta Code of Ordinances…”
The paper concludes by urging APD to enforce the code section. The measure did not establish the matter as a requirement for APD.
Shipman’s appointee to the UDC, Nedra Deadwyler, appears to bring experience and awareness to a number of the 10 policy points for 2022 raised by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. The ABC calls on the city to finish a variety of projects that were funded in the 2015 Renew Atlanta and 2016 transportation sales tax projects. The ABC also calls on the city to eliminate traffic fatalities by prioritizing racial equity and safer street design.
Deadwyler earned a master’s degree in historic preservation in 2020 from Georgia State University. That followed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work, from the University of Georgia and New York University, respectively.
Deadwyler’s bicycle background includes service in 2014 as a league cycling instructor with the League of American Bicyclists, according to her resume. In Atlanta, Deadwyler founded a tour company, Civil Bikes, in 2013 and continues to serve as CEO of a business that features bike tours of sites significant in Atlanta’s civil rights history.
The appointment of Hallie Ford to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning Commission aims to provide the perspective of a seasoned runner and cyclist. The letter of appointment describes Ford as “active in the running and cycling community — leading weekly runs that are free to the public and attended by hundreds of runners each month. We are confident that her desire to improve the community and engage with our City will make her an excellent fit for this post.”
Ford’s appointment was signed by councilmembers Michael Julian Bond, Jason Winston, Amir Farokhi, Byron Amos and Jason Dozier.