Putting high-speed automobiles on the same roads traveled by bicyclists and pedestrians is a recipe for disaster. This is especially true when cities create zoning laws to widen highways and narrow sidewalks to accommodate more traffic and more cars. Atlanta is attempting to be a more pedestrian friendly city by making major changes that include rethinking city divisions, according to Creative Loafing.

When Atlanta codified its zoning laws more than 30 years ago, the notion was that people would be dependent on a car to go anywhere, according to Atlanta Planning Commissioner Tim Keane.

Current suburban zones incorporate single-purpose groupings so that, for example, all the residential homes are in one area, commercial properties are in another, and industrial space is in a different place entirely. This type of zoning necessitates driving to travel anywhere.

So what is now on the table for consideration by the Atlanta Department of Planning and Community Development as part of their "Zoning Ordinance Diagnostic" is a hybrid code which would add aspects of form-based zoning to the already-existing code. Form-based zoning looks to maximize the efficiency of urban space and its usability so that people can live where they work and vice versa.

So how does revising zoning help pedestrians?

The defined goal of the zoning study currently is fourfold:

  • To create improved access to public transportation and increase the city's pedestrian safety.
  • To preserve the historic nature of certain neighborhoods and maintain their aesthetics.
  • To simplify the current zoning code and make it more understandable and clear.
  • To achieve housing density growth.

One example that can help here is to consider the parking space requirement in Atlanta. Currently, developers must allot one and a half spaces to every residential unit in a multi-unit building. However, in reality, many Atlanta residents have chosen to use alternate transportation, which means that the city could use much of this space for sidewalks and walkways.

The hope is that creating space for pedestrians will lead to increased pedestrian safety and walkability. This is a big step in the right direction; however, implementing a new code could take up to seven years.

If, in that time, you or a loved one sustain injuries in a pedestrian accident in Atlanta, speak with a car accident lawyer from the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. Contact us today at 404-474-0804 to discuss your legal rights.

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