Decatur and Atlanta Applying For Fed Grant to Connect Cities with “Complete Streets”

Check out this interesting resolution up for a vote at this evening’s Decatur City Commission meeting…

Whereas, the City of Decatur plans to partner with the City of Atlanta to submit the Atlanta-Decatur Complete Streets Initiative: Connecting the Region’s Workforce to Transit TIGER application. This Project would include complete street rebuilds on M L King, Jr Drive, Lee Street/Peters Street, and Decatur Street/DeKalb Avenue. Each corridor parallels one of the MARTA lines and is the primary connecting street between neighborhoods and their local MARTA station, but each is treacherous to pedestrian and bicycles. The project would include a complete street makeover for each corridor totaling over 11 miles of new sidewalks and trails, resurfaced roadway with improved lane configuration, street trees, new curbing, and pedestrian lighting; and,

Whereas, this project will directly connect thousands of low-income and transit-dependent residents to the 250,000+ jobs directly accessible by MARTA rail and will link downtown Decatur to downtown Atlanta via safe pedestrian, bicyclist and transit infrastructure; and,

Whereas, the City of Decatur will request $5,000,000 in funds to complete the Decatur portion of the project and will provide a 50% match of $2,750,000; and,

Now Therefore, Be It Resolved and it is Hereby Resolved by the Decatur City Commission that they support the submission of a grant proposal in the amount of $5,000,000 with a local match of $2,750,000 to the US Department of Transportation for the TIGER grant program for the purpose of completing the ATLANTA-DECATUR COMPLETE STREETS INITIATIVE.

Photo courtesy of James

88 thoughts on “Decatur and Atlanta Applying For Fed Grant to Connect Cities with “Complete Streets””

  1. “resurfaced roadway with improved lane configuration”

    As to DeKalb Ave, resurfaced sounds good and is clearly needed — the condition of that road is deplorable. But count me skeptical about what it means to “improve” the lane configuration. I hope it doesn’t mean a reduction in lanes.

    1. Pretty sure this will mean removal of a lane for DeKalb Ave- that is in prior plans I’ve seen proposed for the city link. However, I wonder if anyone on the proposal committees/City Commission actually drives that route on a daily basis- I don’t think they’d be so eager to get rid of a lane in that case. I’d love a Commission poll of residents who regularly drive this route– I wish they had done that prior to holding this vote tonight.

      1. Also, I support better bike and pedestrian linkage between Atlanta and Decatur, but think that is more appropriately done via McClendon and the 4 lane area of DeKalb Ave.

        1. Absolutely agree. There is no need for bike lanes on a street that already borders the Stone Mountain trail. I personally have commuted from AE to downtown on the trail and it is a more than adequate alternative to DeKalb Ave. Taking a lane out of the road — if that is what is in the works — is a very bad idea.

    2. With the MARTA right-of-way on one side and numerous buildings only a few feet from the roadway on the other, I doubt there will be an increase in lanes. My guess is that they remove the reversible lane and add bike lanes on both sides in order to keep with the current trend of retrofitting roads designed for cars to better suit the tastes of the less than1% of roadway users who occasionally bike to work.

      1. So let’s think about this. I’ve seen on here a million times how dangerous it is to bike DeKalb Ave. The consensus seems to be: don’t do it. So, we don’t do it. But now that we have a shot at making it a route worth considering for bikes, we hear people ask (paraphrasing): why would we put money and effort into that project, because few people bike that stretch? Well duh. People don’t bike it because it’s unsafe to bike, not because it’s a bad idea.

        This perfectly illustrates the fallacy of the attack on Smart Growth (or whatever name you want to use). We’re told that Americans have voted with their feet and chosen a car-centric lifestyle, when actually we never had a choice from 1950-2000. All the transportation (and other similar) resources went to the expansion of the car-life, and then we are supposed to believe that “no one” “chooses” to walk or bike. Well, yeah, because “no one” really offered up a decent chance for us to choose that lifestyle. Thank goodness the pendulum is swinging back at least a little. Maybe soon we, as a region/state/nation, really will have choices in our transportation and living arrangements.

        1. This is essentially the “if you build it they will come” theory. Maybe, but I doubt it. As I noted above, there is already a bike-friendly route from Decatur to downtown. How many commuters are using it? Small numbers, in my experience.

          The deterrents to bike commuting in Atlanta are more than infrastructure — hills and heat are equally, if not more, important. A small percentage of the population is willing to cycle up and down hills in 85 degree plus weather and then shower and change at work.

          1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Stone Mtn. path ends in Kirkwood – about 3 miles short of downtown. It would actually be a bike-friendly commute option if it went from point A (Decatur) to point B (Downtown). If it currently goes farther, I will be very pleased to find this out.

            1. It doesn’t end in Kirkwood, it follows McClendon through Candler Park, alongside Freedom Parkway, and then downtown to about Piedmont.

              Added — I’d post a link to the map for you but it’s too hard to do that on DM these days. Easy to find via Google.

              1. Looking at the map – I wouldn’t say that is exactly a super great bike commute to downtown option – going up north of Candler Park and all. But ok. Thanks for pointing that out.

                However, one of the best arguments for making DeKalb Ave.more bike/ped friendly: the Beltline Eastside trail will connect to it within a couple of years. The Beltline has totally transformed the bike/ped culture in Atlanta (stealing words from a new GPB report out today). Given that, Decatur and Atlanta would be crazy NOT to improve DeKalb for bike/peds. For Decatur specifically, this may be our best opportunity to tap into “one of the most ambitious urban redevelopment projects in the United States.” We would demand an exit on an interstate if it tore through here, so too should we find a way to connect to the Beltline if at all possible. Why wouldn’t we leverage funds and investments from elsewhere by pursuing this 50% match?

                1. Doesn’t the Beltline have to cross the Stone Mtn. path to get to Dekalb Ave?

                  “Why wouldn’t we leverage funds and investments from elsewhere by pursuing this 50% match?” That is a much larger conversation than bike lanes on DeKalb, but changing that mindset would require getting more that 50% of Americans to stop thinking of federal dollars as free although roughly 50% of Americans currenlty don’t pay income taxes.

                  1. 50% of Americans don’t pay income tax? I know this is a threadjack but I’m curious about that statement. Does that 50% include children and college students? Does it include folks earning or receiving a pension/Social Security under a certain level of taxable income because of low earnings? Does it include folks with a fairly high level of salary and/or other earnings but an even higher level of deductions? My gut tells me that there’s a catch to this statement. No matter what social or work group I’m in, more than 50% of the members groan if taxes are mentioned.

                    1. I bleive it’s measure by filed tax returns reporting positive AGI. For years, around 45% (I don’t think it’s ever been quite 50% but could be wrong about that) of those returns had no income tax liability. But this is from memory so someone can look it up on Tax Foundation and correct me.

                    2. A big proportion of those that don’t pay federal income taxes are the elderly. Little old grandmas.

                    3. OK. Didn’t know that such a large proportion have such a low AGI. Kind of discouraging. And I know I’m a spendthrift liberal but I’ll always vote to spare the little old grandmas with limited incomes. I’ve had plenty of elderly relatives for whom “limited income” meant re-using tea bags, mowing their own lawns with manual lawn mowers, and being thrilled when their Christmas present was stamps so they could mail cards and bills. I’m happy to pay a higher rate of tax than them because someday I’ll be their age and maybe re-using the tea bags…..

                    4. Here’s the math, from the Tax Policy Center:
                      43.3% of households paid no federal income tax in 2013.

                      Of those HHS, 28.9% paid taxes in the form of payroll taxes.

                      Of the remaining 14.4% who paid no federal taxes whatsoever:
                      9.7% are elderly
                      3.4% have a household income under $20,000/yr
                      That leaves 1.3% you can take to task as being freeloaders or whatever.

                    5. Payroll taxes are separate from income tax. 43% (i doubt that will be the final number) paid no federal income tax for 2013. Period.

                    6. Geoff, little old grandmas aren’t asking for “free” federal money for a “super great” bike commute. You are.

                      Go look at your most recent paystub. Then look at at the numbers just to the right of the dollar sign in the federal withholding section (for ease, my paystub labels it “Federal W/H”). What do you think would happen to that amount if the federal government wasn’t collecting (actually borrowing, but that is another coversation) tax dollars to fund exclusively local projects such as “super great” bike lanes?

                    7. Dawgfan, Thanks so much. The “issue” of federal dollars for local projects isn’t exactly something new. Go look up the Maysville Road controversy. I guess I’d be Henry Clay and you’d be Andrew Jackson. There are plenty of ways in which I’d prefer not to default to Old Hickory in looking for answers to 21st century governance issues. Luckily on this one we chose a path in the 19th century to help us progress into a pretty decent modern society rather than staying stuck, guided by yesterday’s ideology.

                    8. Thanks for your wonderful summation of my post. Yes, there is a place for federal dollars being used for local projects. However, I don’t share your opinion that “super great” bike lanes fits in that category, especially when a bike path from Decatur to Atlanta exists.

                  2. The belt line and the stone mountain path do cross and there is a connection between them.
                    The connection is just west of the Cater Center and east of the covered bridge.

                    The reason to make Dekalb Ave safe for bikes is that it is much less hilly than the current route on McLendon.

                    1. The whole point of cycling — well, at least a major point — is to get exercise. I can’t agree that we should ruin a major east/west commute solely to save a small number of cyclists some minor climbing up McClendon. Those hills are really no big deal. Of course, I used to go out of my way to climb Vickers on the way home from midtown, so maybe I’m just crazy like that.

                      PS I agree with some other posts that once you pass the park McClendon is not such a great route, but there is an alternative through Freedom Park that avoids all the bulb-outs.

        2. If the vast majority of people using DeKalb Ave are in cars, shouldn’t the vast majority of resources, including physical space, be allocated accordingly? DeKalb Ave is not the place for bike lanes. There are more suitable locations.

          Scott, even if it is 2, 3 or 10%, my argument doesn’t change. I don’t think you are suggesting that a majority of commuters on Dekalb Ave will take up biking if bike lanes are created.

          1. You’re correct that that’s not what I’m saying. My point is that the transportation policy, funding and design criteria of the past 50-60 years was built around the assumption that the private automobile was the future of transportation and that it should dominate over other uses. A classic chicken/egg scenario: people like cars; our environment is retrofitted to make car use more convenient; people take advantage and use cars more.

            Today, many indicators suggest that maybe our taste for cars above all else is waning. So a recycling of the same process is seemingly rational: market changes suggest people are seeking other modes of travel to augment their car use with more options; our environment is retrofitted to allocate some public space to these uses; people take advantage and use these modes more.

            At the end of the day, roadways are shared public space and we can divvy them up any way we want. And we can even re-divvy down the line, as tastes and priorities change.

          2. With all due respect, DawgFan, it seems that you may be missing the point. The vast majority of users are cars because it’s built specifically for cars and dangerous for anyone other than those in cars. The users follow the resources.

            What if the road was built so that is was just as safe for bikes and pedestrians as it was for cars? You would likely see a vast increase in bikes and pedestrians. It’s also worth noting that the public resources necessary (asphalt, paint, lighting, upkeep, police patrol, wreckage clean up, pollution mitigation, etc) are dramatically less per foot/yard/mile for a bike/ped lane than for an auto lane. So if you were to do a cost/benefit analysis of getting your “money’s worth” per user over a 10-year period, it would likely begin to make sense to put some effort into making it more appealing as a bike/ped option.

            1. You and I are going to have to agree to disagree, and I don’t think I am the one missing the point. The vast majority of users are cars b/c most Americans prefer cars b/c they are easier, quicker, allow one to haul kiddies and their gear, etc., and not because of the road design. This isn’t a chicken and egg situation. The roads were designed to meet the preferences of the majority. I concede that you would see an increase in the number of cyclists and pedestrians on DeKalb Ave if it were reconfigured., but the increased absolute number of cyclists will still constitute a very, very small minority of users on that road. Traffic on DeKalb is a nightmare and is getting worse – this just isn’t the place to reduce lanes and increase the burden on the vast majority of users who are in cars, all so a small minority can have an alternate bike route.

              1. The preference of the majority was shaped by prior planning, otherwise your argument would work everywhere there are people with stuff and children. It doesn’t. European cities, and even a few American ones, built with mass transit as a core utility have !poof! more people who use mass transit, even for outings with children or for grocery shopping. What is available, familiar and easy becomes a preference in many ways whether you’re talking about Coke vs Pepsi, fast food or religion.
                Now whether DeKalb Ave should be easier on a bike, I don’t know, but I don’t believe all planning should be based on the habits that we’ve developed from previous plans.

              2. You only need a car because you need a car. But if you didn’t need a car, you wouldn’t need one.

              3. The idea of paving dirt roads began in the 1890’s to make it more enjoyable for people to drive their _____. If you guessed bicycles, you are correct. In many cities, bicycle clubs raised funds to pay for the paving.

            2. Think I have to agree with DawgFan here. Per user is going to vastly favor automobiles. Make DeKalb Ave less auto friendly and the cars aren’t going to go away — the alternatives aren’t going to work for most people. It will just take commuters longer to get in and out of downtown and leave them angrier.

              1. So when will per-user costs become the guiding principle for how we invest in professional sports venues?

          3. if 1%, or even .1% of money spent on car-centric infrastructure was spent on bike-centric infrastructure, that’d be an improvement, bike-centrically speaking.

      2. Using the present state of our transportation infrastructure, which was explicitly built to facilitate the rapid through-put of cars, to assume that less than 1% of people have a taste for biking is like using diners in a McDonalds to draw conclusions about how many people like ethnic food.

    3. I could handle a reduction in lanes if there were dedicated left turn lanes/signals at the intersections where things back up and cars are whipping over to get around (e.g. Rocky Ford, Krog, Oakdale/Whitefoord, Boulevard etc.). I think that would go a long way to keeping traffic moving.

      1. That could work, but would leave little additional room for new bike lanes. It’s reducing the road to 2 lanes that draws my objection. It’s already bad enough when you are travelling in the direction of the single lane, as shown by the daily, massive backlog of westbound travellers waiting for people to turn left at Arizona. 2 lanes would make DeKalb a virtual parking lot at rush hour.

        1. How about an elevated bike trail down DeKalb ave and turning the middle car lane into left lane turn only.
          There’d be less elevation changes and danger for bikes, and the cars wouldn’t get stuck behind left turners (the line at Clifton going East and Arizona going west are two worst in my mind.)

          I’m only partly kidding, since the cost would be prohibitive, but I believe this would make everyone happy.

  2. The Decatur section (Howard St) is like a highway. Poor souls try to cross it (e.g., Adair crossing) despite 50 mph cars- quite scary. Even though there is a PATH here, it is often clogged with pedestrians. A bike lane or 2 on Howard St would be welcomed and would help slow traffic.

  3. I believe most of the suggested improvements include dedicated left-turn lanes (and lights) at the signalized intersections along DeKalb Ave; this one improvement will greatly help rush hour traffic in both directions.

    One argument for adding bicycle infrastructure to DeKalb is that it is *the* straightest and *flattest* route between Decatur and Downtown Atlanta. McLendon has some serious hills on it, and is a tight road to share since Atlanta installed bulb-outs on it years ago. Over the years of bike commuting to Downtown Atlanta, I have taken a variety of routes through Lake Claire and Candler Park, and my least favorite is McLendon Ave.

    I think it will be difficult to arrive at a consensus about DeKalb Ave–and a good chance that what is done will anger a fair number of folks.

    1. Converting it from that contraflow deal to two lanes with left turns at lights is an improvement.

      There are CONSTANTLY folks zipping the wrong way down that center lane. Do away with it before it gets someone killed.

      1. Have always wondered how many collisions occur from folks going the wrong way in that lane.

  4. I used to bike commute from Decatur to Coke HQ downtown and found DeKalb Avenue to be a much better route than McLendon, especially after they installed the bump-outs. Even before that, there were too many cross streets – that’s usually the dangerous part of bike commuting.
    DeKalb’s reversible lanes have become a pain and even dangerous now that more people need to make turns to go south of the tracks. Turn lanes would make automobile traffic flow much more smoothly all day.

    1. You mean like the two-level highways and bridges in New York City? There’s an idea–build an upper level for bicylists with sidewalks for pedestrians/strollers. Then everyone would be out of everyone’s way. And the human power folks could be out in the fresh air on the top level and the cars would be on the lower level with the fumes. Not sure where the trees would go. Blue sky would be reduced but a tree canopies do that too.

      1. Yes, but I’m more of a Chicago guy so I was thinking along the lines of Upper Wacker and Lower Wacker.

        1. Yes, just checked it out on Wikipedia and that’s the kind of structure I was thinking of. Of note, Wikipedia says that Upper Wacker was originally designed for “pleasure vehicles”. I think bicycles and strollers would fit that definition.

          A concrete double-decker highway isn’t gorgeous but it’s not like DeKalb Avenue is scenic right now.

  5. DeKalb Ave going into downtown would really benefit from some strategically placed turn lanes. That and getting the lights timed right, and I’m curious how much difference taking out the middle lane would make. It would certainly force people to go slower.

    1. Proper timing of the lights could go a long way towards alleviating a little of the lost time due to loss of 2nd through lane during rush hours, along with proper length of turn lanes. I hope there is a commitment to light coordination in the proposed budget. Adding 10 minutes each way to a commute is no small matter for those of us who work downtown Atl.

  6. Wow, the anti-bike people are really coming out. If only the anti-highway and anti-road widening people were this loud 50 years ago (the few that existed). Atlanta and Decatur will be far more enjoyable places for residents and tourist if more, safe bike lanes are built and if the pedestrian infrastructure is improved. For all of the naysayers, Western Europe is proof.

    1. I own 2 bikes and dang near every cycling gadget you can buy. From 2004 through 2011 I commuted to work on my bike almost every day, and I still ride my bike locally in lieu of driving on a frequent basis. I’d say that over my 7 or so years of bike commuting I logged at least 3,000 miles per year, and likely much more than that. So call it 21,000 miles ridden to and from work, conservatively estimated.

      I am anything but anti-bike. But I’m against removing a lane from DeKalb.

      1. Yeah, I am an avid cyclist, but removing a lane will stall traffic. I think there are other options for a bike route from Decatur to downtown. The PATH does go on McLendon, but you have to bike up a very steep hill.

        I know many avid cyclists who don’t really like separate lanes for bikers, too.

        1. That’s right — often times the dedicated bike lanes become repositories for road debris that, while harmless to cars, will flatten a bike tire in a heartbeat. I prefer an ample shoulder with sharrows, which are more effective than I had initially believed they would be.

    1. Well, they agree on cutting us Pogo-stick commuters out of the conversation altogether. If I wasn’t in the hospital every week from hitting streetlights, I’d attend a meeting or two.

  7. Now that we have the bike thing figure out 😉 – let us not forget the improved pedestrian access to MARTA stations that this would provide. Also, remember that residential densities along DeKalb will continue to increase over the next decade in response to the growing demand for transit oriented development, and not just on MARTA land. So the potential “market” for bike/ped users will also be increasing. Tomorrow’s DeKalb Ave., and those who use it, is not, and will not be the same as it was even 5 years ago.

    We have a HUGE investment already sunk into MARTA in this very spot. Smart thinking to me would be to encourage usage right here by making easier the bike/ped access to the stations. That is, this, of all places, ought to have the best bike/ped infrastructure to help grow MARTA where it already is. This is good for the entire region.

    So let’s review – a growing demand for transit oriented development along this route, a growing number of those that prefer to bike and walk, an opportunity to leverage federal funds, an opportunity for two cities to co-operate and leverage each other, an opportunity to make the Beltline even more useful and accessible, particularly for Decaturites, and an opportunity to better utilize our current transit system without building one more inch of rail. This seems to me to be forward thinking and a no-brainer. Sorry if you disagree.

  8. I use Dekalb Ave regularly to commute to downtown via my car. Biking is not an option especially when I’m responsible for taking young kids to/from school, daycare, and camps on my way to work

    I am VERY against taking away a lane from Dekalb Ave. I’ve seen my commute double from 10-15 minutes to 20-30 in the last 8 years. Taking a lane away could cause commutes to increase to 45 mins making Decatur less desirable.

    Is there any medium to share immediate feedback on this to the higer-ups?

    1. The two cities are applying for funds. Doesn’t mean they’ll get them.

      And with DeKalb Avenue and the other roads mentioned being state routes and/or crossing state routes and/or generally major arterial roads, I’d say this change won’t take place for a few years. Funds would need to be programmed, then preliminary engineering, right-of-way acquisition (which can take years itself), final engineering, project bidding, etc…

    2. Your commute on DeKalb is going to get worse and worse. Anything they do is going to make it worse for rush hour commuters headed in the two lane direction (to help the poor saps who must go against the flow and need to turn left). At some point the drive time will get so bad that people will choose the train. GASP!

    3. Totally agree with everything you said: Biking (or MARTA for that matter) is not an option with kids and with my running errands at lunch time, and my commute has doubled. Used to be 12 minutes door to door. Now it’s at least 20, usually 30 and sometimes even 40 minutes. I am totally against removing the reversible lane.

      By the way, I have commuted daily on DeKalb Ave. since 1992, and I have never seen a head on collision in the reversible lane.

      1. I’ve never seen lots of things in person, but they still exist. The reversible lanes need to go. There are different constraints along this corridor than Hwy 78 when that reversible lane system was removed, but I can see a similar benefits to doing so along DeKalb Ave.

        DeKalb Ave may be a quick way downtown, but for many it is part of a neighborhood. If I lived along that road, drive times for commuters would mean way less to me than safety and aesthetics. Roads are not just a means to get drivers from point A to point B the quickest way possible. Frankly, folks just need to plan ahead for a longer commute.

        1. It’s the ever growing commute time that has people shuddering. This is a given since more people use the route as Decatur, AE, and surrounding points grow. What they have an issue with is that commute getting worse due to lane removals as traffic grows.

          I also think much of Dekalb Avenue’s townhouses and condos are relatively new, so people moving into them knew up front they were moving on to a busy street that serves as the major conduit from the Decatur area to downtown Atlanta. The old neighborhoods off Dekalb Ave are still relatively isolated from that traffic.

          1. +1. Those residents not only knew they were moving to the edge of a major commuting route, they paid less because of it. We should consider their views about how to structure DeKalb, but they should not necessarily hold sway.

  9. I live in Lenox Place and use West Howard/Dekalb Ave to get downtown every day. That said, I also use it in the evening and on weekends to run, bike, walk with my family, etc and would love to be able to cross it without fearing for my life!

    I am absolutely in favor of reducing Howard to one lane in each direction, and same for Dekalb (though they would need to have turn lanes). If the city can get 50% match funding, this might actually happen in my lifetime! Unless I get run’d over first 🙂

  10. Prior to 1926, very few people traveled to/from Atlanta by air. The city fathers built an airfield anyway. By 1930, Atlanta was third (behind New York and Chicago for regular daily flights.

    The leaders making decisions and investments back then knew that, as Scott and others often point out (with admirable patience and courtesy IMO), we should build for the future we envision, not the present we endure.

      1. Hmmm… that would involve staying up way too late most of the time. Makes me tired to think about it.

    1. Won’t be long before “we” aren’t even the ones making the decisions. We’re nearing the point where young people moving into Atlanta can get by without a car, and they are increasingly driving the conversation. At some point they may cease to concern themselves with the length of our automotive commutes, reasoning that we were the ones who chose not to invest in transit.

      Like Principal Vernon worried, one day when we’re old, those kids are going to be taking care of us…

      I wouldn’t count on it!

      1. +1. It’s not uncommon for those calling the shots to do everything possible to maintain their way of life, despite demographic forces well beyond their control. I’m no Millennial (I’m barely a Gen-Xer) but I love the impact they’re having on cities and I continue to be enthusiastic about the new priorities they’re ushering in.

        The kids is alright.

  11. It should be easier to get from Decatur to Downtown, no matter what mode of transportation you choose. In NYC you can cross the Williamsburg Bridge 4 different ways. It’s a swell bridge. I believe that’s the goal of this effort – recall that it’s known as “complete streets”, not “bike streets”. Getting too gung-ho about the swing toward bike commuting turns off would-be allies and is probably unrealistic anyway. Complete streets – that’s the ticket. There’s a reason Decatur Street is one of the oldest in the city. It’s (almost) a straight line. I support making it more efficient for all users.

    1. Williamsburg Bridge: Actually 5 ways–you could swim too. But hard to do with young children or groceries. And if you really had to, there’s a ferry that gets you near each end of the bridge. Thanks to its history and compactness, NYC has redundancy of transportation, a nice feature in the case of gridlock or disaster. When the World Trade Towers were hit, subway stopped but folks could walk across the bridge. In Atlanta, you’re stuck if our one and only transportation option is down. Hence the Snowocalypse. Don’t try to flee; hust go down in our part earth Decatur basements and wait things out.

    2. Thanks for pointing this out. Compete streets are just that. Integrative. So must the solution.

      I bike Decatur to midtown 3-4 days per week. As a driver, I’m also not a fan of making Dekalb 2 lanes. It at least needs turn lanes at critical intersections. I’d be really happy if McClendon was improved (damn bump outs) and if all those parents of Mary Lin elementary kids would stop driving their kids to school and backing up McClendon (I have similar complaints in Decatur about so many parents driving their kids to school, but I’ll save it for another day!). Having said all that, if it could be figured out, biking along Dekalb would be really convenient.

      And dear CSD kids – stop walking to school on the path paying attention to nothing (or zoning to your idevice) and not noticing the bicycles on the bike path. Same for the Decatur policeman who once parked his car across the path for a speed trap. To his credit, he moved the car back when I blasted my bike horn 🙂

      1. “I’d be really happy if McClendon was improved (damn bump outs)”

        But of course, the bump-outs were improvements in the minds of those who sought them! That the bump-outs made McClendon much worse for cycling was an unintended — one supposes, at least — consequence. Call McClendon a not-so-complete-street.

        1. We lived in Candler Park when the bump-outs were implemented – they were the product of local neighborhood leaders who were trying to curb speeding in what is obviously a very residential area. People were FLYING down McLendon, Clifton, Euclid, Oakdale, etc. in a neighborhood full of kids.

          The objective was met, but came at the cost of bike accomodation. Such is life, balancing competing interests and the priorities of the community. As others have covered in this thread, a road that is a thoroughfare for you (whether via car or bike) is someone else’s neighborhood.

          This is a good place for me to point out the Oakview-Hosea-Wylie-Edgewood route for biking into downtown. It is much safer for biking, is relatively flatter than McLendon due to the use of a historic trolley route, and incorporates dedicated bike lanes for significant parts of the trip. People who live north of the tracks probably haven’t considered it, but they should, it’s very pleasant and safe.

          Oh, and the sections of Hosea with a bike lane are a good contrast to what is in place on McLendon – these are two different approaches to intown neighborhood thoroughfares, almost like studying twins separated at birth.

          1. “As others have covered in this thread, a road that is a thoroughfare for you (whether via car or bike) is someone else’s neighborhood.”

            Agreed as to McClendon. There, since you are correct that it is heavily residential, I would err on the side of traffic calming and give little heed to the commuters. (Though that does not necessarily mean the street has to be made difficult for cycling.) DeKalb, to my mind, is a different kettle of fish.

            1. While I may have cursed the bumpouts, I appreciate the process that got them there! They likely were a good idea at the time. Today, they would have poured them with an 18″ pass through for bikes. Plans and pro-active thinking about bike lanes (and their use as a speed control measure) have matured over time. Kaseem Reid in particular seems have pushed raising bike considerations on Atlanta infrastructure projects — the cities plans for bike projects over the next 5 years is impressive.

              I would speculate that the slower traffic on McClendon is why lots of people (like me) bike it. So we can likely thank the community for putting such measures in — It made the route more attractive to bikes. And we seem to get along. I think regular drivers on McClendon are used to bikers, bikers are used to the constrained space, and we all seem to get along and share the road well. It is one stretch of road where, at least in my experience, cars and bikes seem to get along pretty well most of the time.

          2. To see the route I’m talking about, go to bikely dot com and search on “Decatur-Downtown Atlanta Commute”, by TeeRuss. It is a much straighter shot than many would assume.

          3. This is my usual biking route to downtown, and I can second it as a (fairly) straight shot that’s comfortable even for traffic-wary bikers. It was hairy for a while with all of the streetcar construction on Edgewood, but now it’s fine.

          4. I rarely bike downtown, but when I do, I take that route. I agree – what they’ve done with Hosea Williams is impressive.

            I have mixed feelings about on-street lanes — it depends on the traffic and implementation. For example, the bike lanes on Ponce have been great on my bike commute — until drivers started using them for 1) short term parking or 2) an unofficial right lane to get to the light and make a right turn. I’ve seen both on Ponce. In both cases, they transform the bike lane from a great idea to something either dangerous or frustrating or both. In Tech Square in midtown, the bike lanes are a high risk spot for getting doored (parking along lanes). On West Peachtree, the morning commuters to AT&T fly into their parking garage without looking at the bike lane they just cut off. Others, like the ones on Commerce from Ponce to Howard, seem ideal and carve out a nice bike space that a car couldn’t use anyway.

            But these kind of tradeoffs will always occur — bikers and drivers both, need to look around, pay attention, and adapt. And over time, I think we’ll get it figured out 🙂

        2. I don’t speak for the bike community but I pay a lot of attention to bike issues and one thing that’s been made abundantly clear to me is that there IS NOT consensus among all cyclists as to which is preferable: separated lanes/facilities or calmed streets where bikes are safely integrated with cars. So I agree that some cyclists feel the changes to McLendon made it unbike-able, but there’s a whole segment of others who feel the opposite.

          The kicker for me, that TeeRuss gets into, is that — however you side re: the biking aspect — that stretch of McLendon is now infinitely more livable than it was before. By many different measures.

          1. I’m sure that is right, Scott, but we are talking here about the bump-outs (chicanes?) specifically as opposed to traffic calming generally. I’d be very surprised if many cyclists preferred the bump-outs, which (IMO) make cycling more dangerous. Speed bumps that can be bypassed on bikes, on the other hand, definitely make cycling easier.

            I haven’t solicited a scientific oipinion on this, just speaking of personal experience. Plus two cyclists in this thread have stated they don’t like the bump-outs.

  12. Very good conversation here. My initial reaction was that taking out the reversible lane on DeKalb Ave would create an epic traffic disaster. It truly would. But taking the long term view, people would adjust in a variety of ways – different routes, different means, different choices in where they choose to live and/or work, etc. Just as building road capacity creates demand, so does reducing capacity decrease demand.

    If it’s done right, with turn lanes, then in 20 years this little slice of the world will be a better place.

    Easy for me to say, as after 9 years of using DeKalb Ave daily I’ve changed jobs and no longer need it. But I do think that the majority of commuters on that route are from further out than Decatur.

  13. They started changing the lanes on DeKalb/Decatur St between the MLK station and the Georgia State station this week. Looks like one lane in each direction with bike lanes. It was already a bottleneck there going in. It is going to be epic for sure.

  14. If we lose a lane of car traffic into downtown maybe more people will use MARTA and ride their bike. Maybe traffic will be better for those that still need to drive. #whoknows?

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