Transportation officials install barriers on Edgewood Avenue to curb car stuntsTemporary barriers cut part of Edgewood Avenue into just two lanes. (Credit: Sean Keenan)
By Sean Keenan
Atlanta’s car-centric urban design might be contributing to the rash of stunt driver-style behavior on Sweet Auburn’s Edgewood Avenue.
So says Josh Rowan, the City of Atlanta’s transportation chief. “There’s a lot of room for silly stuff,” he told SaportaReport in a recent interview, citing the burnouts, donuts and occasional drag racing taking place on and around Edgewood Avenue’s nightlife strip.
So, to combat a years-long problem that’s frustrated local business owners and nearby residents, Rowan had the city’s transportation department quickly cobble together a makeshift median on Edgewood Avenue, between Jackson Street and Boulevard, where most of the local bars are settled.
Chopping the road into just two narrow lanes by splitting the center lane with water-filled plastic barricades should make reckless driving much more difficult, the logic goes.
“Let’s see if we can’t go kill that space with our barricades,” Rowan said.
For years, the dilemma Edgewood Avenue faces on weekends has been seen as a law enforcement issue. Now, though, officials see an opportunity to solve a problem with a smart, shared street design — one that doesn’t give free rein to motorists.
Rowan also said he’s considering protecting the existing bike lanes along Edgewood Avenue.
In theory, these deterrents will keep the rowdy gatherings from happening there altogether.
“By the time the cars are doing donuts and there are 400 people there, we’ve already lost,” Rowan said. “My theory is that narrowing the street helps stop that [before it starts].”
After all, if you’re whipping around a souped-up, $60,000 sports car, Rowan said, “I certainly wouldn’t want to be swinging that around if I could hit something.”
This weekend will be the first test drive of the road-narrowing effort, and Rowan said he’s going to monitor the effects from nearby. If all goes to plan, he added, the temporary barriers could make way for more permanent fixtures.
(Header image, via Sean Keenan: The latest addition to Edgewood Avenue.)