In March 2018, the City of Atlanta released its first annual 2017 Annual Bicycle Report, which spotlights projects geared toward making the city more bike friendly. Rather than attempting individual initiatives, the city planners are intentionally molding the metropolitan area in a holistic manner.
The over-arching goals of the Atlanta Transportation Plan include:
- Fixing existing problems that deter bike use
- Increase access for moving around the city on bicycles
- Improve the physical health and well-being of Atlanta residents
- Providing more opportunities for prosperity, with a focus on communities that need affordable forms of transportation
The 2017 report shows how upgrading the infrastructure that serves and supports bike riders, developing bike share programs, and encouraging ridership can lead to the accomplishment of these goals. The city planners hope this unified strategy will make Atlanta a place where people are enthusiastic about bike riding.
Improvements to Atlanta’s Bicycle Infrastructure
As part of a multi-year infrastructure plan, Atlanta completed three main projects in 2017:
Resurfacing Ralph David Abernathy Street between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Cascade Road: The asphalt on this four-lane road was in poor condition. The Atlanta City Planning department worked with stakeholders in the community to design a street that was safe and user-friendly for pedestrians and bike riders.
The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) turned the four-lane road into a two-lane street. The road now has marked parking spots and buffered bike lanes. People can now bike more safely to the West Lake MARTA station, the Atlanta Beltline Westside Trail, Kipp Strive, Kroger Citi-Center, and the Westview commercial node.
Creation of the Atlanta BeltLine Westside Trail: This three-mile paved segment of the BeltLine system offers a safe way for walkers and cyclists to get from one of several Southwest Atlanta neighborhoods to another. The three-mile stretch of trail links more than 40 acres of greenspace. People using the trail can get to schools, parks, and transit, as well as an urban agriculture farm.
PATH Parkway: Georgia Tech worked with the PATH Foundation and Atlanta city planners to construct a paved pathway for pedestrians and bike riders. Although the parkway is only a mile and a half long, it links Georgia Tech with Centennial Olympic Park, West Midtown, and the Coca-Cola headquarters.
The Parkway won the title of America’s Best New Bikeway of 2017 from PeopleForBikes. The visionary design took two southbound lanes of Tech Parkway and morphed them into a landscaped median and a tree-lined walkway and bikeway.
Local Artists Contributed to the Project
City planners also considered aesthetics when they created the city’s transportation plan. The city planners launched the Mural Bike Rack Project. The project increases public awareness of Atlanta’s biking infrastructure through the use of public art.
The city planners obtained 18 locally crafted bike-shaped racks, then had 18 local artists paint their designs on them. Little Five Points artists also adorned three of the Relay bike share program bicycles with artwork.
Atlanta’s Relay Bike Share Program
2017 was the first full year of the Relay Bike Share program, which launched in June of 2016. Beginning with 100 bikes at ten stations in the downtown area, the project has expanded to 75 stations with a total of 500 bikes. The stations are scattered across 15 neighborhoods. More than 25,000 people have participated in Relay Bike Share. The city plans to double the number of stations to encourage more bike ridership.
The Spectrum of On-Street Marked Bikeways in Atlanta
The City of Atlanta has a wide variety of bike lanes. The report illustrates the types of bikeways currently available in our city, which include, from the least protected to the most protected:
- Shared Lane Markings, where bikers ride in traffic lanes with motor vehicles.
- Bike Lanes, where bike riders have their own marked lane, usually five to seven feet wide, alongside traffic lanes.
- Buffered Bike Lanes, which provide a cushion of space, typically two to six feet wide and designated by painted lines on the pavement, between their separate bike lane and the traffic lanes.
- Cycle Tracks, where vehicles park a few feet to the left of the bike lane rather than to the right, to avoid “dooring,” which is when the door of a parked car opens and strikes a passing bicyclist.
- Cycle Tracks with Flexible Bollards, which add bendable upright posts to standard cycle tracks. The bollards provide a highly-visible notification to motorists that there is a bike lane.
- Raised Cycle Tracks, Curb Separated. These lanes place the bike riders at a different height from both the traffic lanes and the pedestrian sidewalks, to delineate the space for each.
- Raised and Protected Cycle Tracks add another layer of protection to raised and curb-separated cycle tracks with a permanent, sturdy physical barrier, like a durable bollard or a raised median, between the traffic lanes and the bike lane.
The city planners intend to use the full range of bike lane variations to accommodate local street conditions.
Where Atlanta’s Bike Projects Will Go from Here
Cycle Atlanta 1.0: As of the end of 2017, Atlanta city planners have designed 32 miles of the first phase of bike infrastructure projects. The City has completed 10 miles and obtained funding for another 20 miles of the overall plan.
Cycle Atlanta 2.0: The City has planned another 42 miles for the second phase. It has completed 1.8 miles and funded another 13.5 miles of these plans.
To stay up to date on Atlanta’s infrastructure improvements, check out our news blog.