Peachtree Road’s proposed bike lanes draw big crowd to meeting

By David Pendered

Please see an Editor’s Note at the end of this story.

A public information meeting on the state proposal to add bike lanes to a portion of Peachtree Road in Buckhead drew a large crowd Thursday that seemed evenly divided among proponents and opponents.

Peachtree Road, bike lane protest

Hand-made signs dotted West Paces Ferry Road Thursday in advance of a public information meeting at which the Georgia Department of Transportation outlined the proposal to add two bike lanes and a shared left-turn lane to a portion of Peachtree Road in Buckhead. Credit: David Pendered

The crowd was sharply divided on the proposal, based on a count of lapel stickers.

The issue is fairly straight forward.

The Georgia Department of Transportation proposes to install a street configuration on Peachtree Road that’s similar to what it installed on Ponce de Leon Avenue.

On Ponce de Leon, the state striped the street with a shared left turn lane and travel lanes in each direction. Markers for bike lanes are painted on the road surface.

A similar approach for Peachtree Road in Buckhead has been in the planning for about two years. The main reason the issue arises now is that this section of Peachtree Road is due for resurfacing.

GDOT spokesperson Natalie Dale said the department decided that, as long as it’s resurfacing the road, it should look for ways to make the road a safer place to co-exist for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Public interest in the project is so high that GDOT started admitting a crowd of folks about 15 minutes before the announced start of the information meeting, at 5 p.m. At 6:30 p.m. a half-hour before the close, about 75 folks were still milling around the placards and talking.

By comparison, some of the “Revive 285” meetings and some on the intersection of Ga. 400 and I-85 have, in the past attracted, mainly GDOT staffers who are required to attend.

Peachtree Road, bike lane proposal

Heavy traffic and a high number of crashes on Peachtree Road, in Buckhead, has prompted the Georgia Department of Transportation to propose restriping the street in order to provide two bike lanes and a shared left-turn late, as part of a planned $1 million street resurfacing project.

Dale rattled off a number of safety issues involving Peachtree Road, mainly involving drivers who are texting, or otherwise distracted, who crash into the rear end of the car ahead. The resulting car crash further disrupts traffic flow as public safety folks arrive to clear the mess and be available to transport injured persons to the hospital.

One chart displayed at the event reported this section of Peachtree Road had 801 crashes from 2009 to 2013. Eleven bicycle crashes were reported, along with 42 pedestrian strikes. All three categories are above state averages.

John Foley, of Peachtree Heights West Civic Association, said Thursday that GDOT created six different plans over the past two years. He said the 550 families in the association don’t understand why GDOT shifted its backing from a six-lane, hybrid plan to the current proposal.

Foley said his neighbors don’t want bicyclists on this stretch of Peachtree Road. The road already is overburdened with traffic, and the overriding concern should be to speed vehicles safely through the area.

Anthony Vito said he expects GDOT will choose a plan that provides the greatest level of safety for all travelers, regardless of their mode of transportation.

Vito presents himself as someone who stays out of a vehicle whenever possible. Vito said there’s no reason to ride a bike if the destination is a short distance, because “sneakers” are the best mode for that trip. Likewise, a longer trip is worth the effort to get the bike from apartment to the road. He said he had to buy a car when he arrived in Atlanta, from Rochester, N.Y., because his bike didn’t accommodate all his travel needs.

Peachtree Road, crux of issue

This is the GDOT preferred plan for reconfiguring the travel lanes along Peachtree Road in Buckhead. Credit: GDOT

Here are the details of the project, complete with the wrinkle with the Peachtree Road project that involves two different lane configurations:

  • From Deering Road, near the Amtrak station, to Peachtree Battle Avenue, Peachtree Road would be striped to provide for two bike lanes, one on either side of the road. A shared left-turn lane would be added in the center of the road. The center lane would be 12 feet wide, and the four other lanes would be 10 feet wide; two lanes would go north and two lanes would go south. The bike lanes would be 4 feet wide.
  • From Peachtree Battle Avenue to Pharr Road, there would be no bike lanes. The shared center turn lane would be 10 feet wide. Five travel lanes would be 10 feet wide. Of the five travel lanes, three would be southbound, and two would be northbound.

Editor’s note: In the FWIW category, Pendered was almost struck by a car when leaving the GDOT meeting. Pendered was walking across Peachtree Road, in a marked crosswalk on a green light, when a distracted driver swerved just four feet from his legs. The driver was exiting the Darlington apartment building, turning left, and looking down in order to light a cigarette.

 

 

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.

9 replies
  1. Mike Ventura says:

    I’m all for bike lanes, by the GDOT planners are crazy. They added bike lanes to Ponce where it runs by Ponce City Market, and essentially, narrowed the street by one traffic lane each way. Now, traffic backs up and no one can get out of the shopping center across the street (Whole Foods, Home Depot) because of backed up traffic. They could have placed the bike lanes one block over on North Avenue, where the road is much wider and traffic is much lighter. They created a bike lane on 10th at Monroe at the edge of the Beltline and Piedmont Park that eliminated the abiity of cars travelling south on Monroe to make a right turn onto Monroe, creating yet another traffic gridlock. That lane could easily have gone through Piedmont Park. Two weeks ago, I spoke to council person Alex Wan about tyhis and he says he gets all kinds of complaints about this, but the city is helpless to act because it is GDOT. There is absolutly no coordination between the City of Atlanta and GDOT on bike lanes.Report

    Reply
  2. arctk2011tj says:

    Not sure where you’re getting that Ponce is worse considering GDOT proved that the new lane configurations increase throughput in this area due to the center turning lane. The additional bike lanes haven’t been the sole cause of back-ups at the shopping center any more than just simple increase in development in the area. These problems existed long before the road was repaved/restriped. 

    No one could get out of Whole Foods/Home Depot shopping center before when it was a 6-lane highway or even before PCM was open. It’s just a terribly designed parking/shopping center with poor pedestrian/vehicular connections and entrances because the neighborhood blocked it from connecting to Monroe via Trader Joe’s property (as an extension of 8th street) 15+ years ago. 

    As far as 10th street goes you can still turn right from Monroe on to 10th St as you did before but most of those traffic problems arise from the parking attendant/ hire-a-cop blocking traffic for one or two cars turning to park at Park Tavern almost every evening.Report

    Reply

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