Atlanta’s new cycle track is short, but a milestone in city’s mobility options

By David Pendered

Atlanta is poised to complete in August a significant component of its overall plan to provide safer routes for bicyclists.

This enhanced map of the Eastside Trail shows how the new cycle track along 10th Street fits into Atlanta's overall plan to provide transit options. Credit: Atlanta BeltLine, David Pendered

This enhanced map of the Eastside Trail shows how the new cycle track along 10th Street fits into Atlanta’s overall plan to provide transit options. Credit: Atlanta BeltLine, David Pendered

On its face, the new cycle track seems too short to be notable. It will stretch along 10th Street only the width of Henry W. Grady High School, from Monroe Drive to Charles Allen Drive.

This short segment will provide a separate cycle track that will connect tip of the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail at Piedmont Park to Charles Allen Drive. Because a bike lane already exists on Charles Allen Drive, the cycle track will provide one of the last links of connectivity for cycling and walking along a route from Inman Park neighborhoods through Midtown and across the Downtown Connector to Tech.

“This is a big step in Atlanta’s history of implementing alternative transportation,” said Heather Alhadeff, who directed the creation of Atlanta’s comprehensive transportation plan, Connect Atlanta, through its adoption in 2008. “We’re slowly getting the pieces in place that will connect the dots.”

A new version of Connect Atlanta was approved without fanfare in June by the Atlanta City Council.

The new cycle track is part of the city’s ambitious plan to double the mileage of bicycle travel lanes and shared paths by 2016. Another aspect of that goal is to double the number of bicyclists.

“We have over $62 million in planned transportation projects that will include the addition of new bicycle facilities over the next three years,” Joshuah Mello, the city’s assistant planning director for transportation said in a statement.

This plan includes 26 new projects that aim to improve safety for bicyclists. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has been a strong supporter of alternative transportation, as well as other campaigns for sustainable practices including the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge – which promotes water and energy efficiency in commercial buildings.

Atlanta's plan for travel options calls for the creation of core connections that will link major destinations. The routes will be supplemented with a network of secondary connections that reach into neighborhoods. Credit: City of Atlanta

Atlanta’s plan for travel options calls for the creation of core connections that will link major destinations. The routes will be supplemented with a network of secondary connections that reach into neighborhoods. Credit: City of Atlanta

“Riding safety for cyclists continues to be a top priority for my administration,” Reed said in a statement. “Creating new, family-friendly bicycle routes for our citizens and visitors demonstrates our commitment to improving the quality of life for our citizens and creating a sustainable future.”

Another cycle track is slated for construction in downtown Atlanta. A public meeting on that project is scheduled for July 31, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at Peachtree Center Mall.

Plans call for the cycle track to be built on the north side of 10th Street. It will be separated from the vehicular lanes with a marked buffer and plastic posts. Bright green pavements will highlight intersections. Three ramps will connect the cycle track to trails within Piedmont Park and the Eastside Trail.

Cyclists’ safety will be enhanced at the intersection of Charles Allen Drive with a left-turn queue box and a new push-button signal.

Plans call for the short segment of cycle track along 10th Street to be extended, eventually, to Peachtree Street. The next phase is to reach Myrtle Street and that phase is to be scheduled later this year.

The Midtown Alliance is helping to fund the project, which supports the sustainability action plan – Greenprint Midtown – the alliance adopted in 2012.

“We’re pleased to be a part of this project,” Kevin Green, CEO of Midtown Alliance, said in a statement. “The 10th Street cycle track adds to the district’s existing 4.6 miles of bicycle facilities and is part of our effort to bring an additional 10-plus miles of bike paths and streetscapes to Midtown.”

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

15 replies
  1. Midtown Res and Cycler says:

    This cycle track is very poorly planned.  Vehicles travelling west on 10th St from Monroe to Charles Allen will at some point face the inevitable situation when someone turns left on Charles Allen, leaving them to wait until east going traffic abates. 
    I do support cycling but cycle tracks need to work with current traffic conditions, not make them worse.Report

    Reply
  2. mattwestinatl says:

    I used the Piedmont cycle track twice this weekend. It’s an awesome development and I have no complaints so far, although I was a little annoyed that there are still people on bikes choosing to ride up and down the sidewalk there.Report

    Reply
  3. Pam says:

    This is horrible! I live in this neighborhood and have children in the schools in this neighborhood, go to
    Church, grocery store, movies, piedmont park and work at GT. this is going to make traffic a nightmare, especially when school starts August 9th and people come back from vacations. This is so selfish of whoever designed this! Piedmont Park events, Park Tavern events, Football games at Grady High School, where multiple schools play games Thurs, Fri and Sat and the other Sporting event that occur in addition! PLEASE STOP THIS! Please rethink this. You could easily take the parking lane out on 10th in front of Grady and put a bike lane on each side of the street like it should be. Have you even asked all the home owners in this neighborhood and on Monroe! PLEASE STOP!Report

    Reply
    • kt says:

      @Pam  Hey Pam, you’re hilarious. I work at GT and commute on the cycle track every day. It’s an extremely useful facility that ensures safety for a broader range of the traveling public. I haven’t seen any traffic backed up because of the cycle track-  to the contrary, at 5:15 on a weeknight there are very few cars in the remaining westbound lane. And the other side still has its 3 lanes… Bike facilities take cars off the street- would you rather everybody drive? Calm down now- maybe even try a ride sometime, you might like it.Report

      Reply
      • pam says:

        @kt the “cycle track” on 10th St has been up for a week.  School is not in session, people are still on vacation, nor is their an event going on at Piedmont Park, Park Tavern or Grady Stadium.  I am talking about the intersection of Monroe and 10th St.  I drop my kids off at school at Grady on 10th St and then take 5th St to GT with about 3-4 biking commuters, no problem at all.  I am glad you can ride your bike to work.  My family of 6 has one car, my husband takes Marta and we carpool. I support the “Share the Road” campaign.Report

        Reply
  4. Reader says:

    This article does a lot of talking but didn’t tell me anything I wanted to know. I shouldn’t finish reading an article and have more questions that before I ever started.Report

    Reply
  5. MidtownCubicleDrone says:

    It’s so wonderful to see Atlanta moving away from it’s cars-only approach to transportation. Thank you to all involved for making this project possible. Please extend it as soon as possible. It’s much too short as is.Report

    Reply
  6. copier30306 says:

    Yeah, lets restrict traffic even more. So drivers can sit in gridlock burning fuel and going nowhere. What a waste of dwindling tax dollars, spend those $ on things that are really needed for cyclists … like filling potholes and divots in our Atlanta streets that are a danger to both cars and bikes. A pox upon these Agenda 21 morons. Don’t even get me started on the streetcar to nowhere boondoggle!Report

    Reply
  7. TomTomaka says:

    Thanks for reporting this, David. Although cities like New Youk, Chicago, DC and Minneapolis have been building projects similar to this for many years now, Atlanta officials should be congratulated for taking this first step by replacing a general traffic lane with a dedicated bicycle facility. Some motorists will moan, but two important points should be made. First, changes such as this will require time to adjust. The new facilities may need fine-tuning, bicyclists may need to familiarize themselves, and motorists as well. Second, the Connect Atlanta plan is all about providing people with transportation choices. People love to have choices. Consider the 10th Street cycletrackReport

    Reply
  8. TomTomaka says:

    Thanks for reporting this, David. We should applaud Atlanta officials who are joining us with other great cities such as New York, Chicago, DC and Minneapolis in building a transportation system that better serves the needs of all. While some motorists will moan over the replacement of a general traffic lane with the cycletrack on 10th Street, we should remember two things. Change like this always requires an adjustment period. It will take time for all to get used to the new facilities. But this project does not spell the end for problem-free motoring in Midtown Atlanta (apologies for the sarcasm.) More importantly, this and other projects in the Connect Atlanta plan are about providing transportation options. People love to have choices, and the strategic placement of this cycletrack between the BeltLine and Peachtree will surely motivate many fence-sitting drivers who want to ride a bike when they feel the conditions are safe to do so. Do you hear me, Grady High Schoolers, Atlanta Children’s School parents, people attending their boot camp classes at Piedmont Park?
    One minor correction to David’s report: Charles Allen Boulevard does not have a bike lane. It is painted with the oft-misunderstood sharrows, symbols that remind bicyclists to use the entire travel lane when needed.Report

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

What are your thoughts?