Atlanta Bond Plan Includes Removing DeKalb Ave Reversible Lane, Installing Bike Lane

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 9.35.57 PM

If you live in Decatur and commute regularly to downtown Atlanta, you will likely be interested in this.

In March, Atlantans will go to the polls to vote on a $250 million bond for infrastructure improvements around the city.  Though these projects all obviously fall outside the Decatur city limits, not surprisingly, many could impact the day-to-day of many commuting Decatur residents.

Of particular note, the bond list includes $2.5 million to remove the reversible lane on DeKalb Avenue.  Here’s the description for the project on Atlanta’s vast Infrastructure Map

Complete Street improvements inclusive of milling and repaving, sidewalk and ADA ramp repair and installation, reversible lane removal and addition of bicycle facilities along DeKalb Av from MARTA Inman Park-Reynoldstown Station (Hurt St) to city limit.

Bike facilities?  What’s that?

A recent post on the Atlanta Bike Coalition website fills things in and reaches a bit further…

DeKalb Ave has been added to the list as a Complete Street. This includes bike lanes, turn lanes, and no reversible lane – big win! But this project shouldn’t stop in the middle at Inman Park – ask for it to be extended to connect with the Decatur Street bike lanes.

You may recall that Decatur and Atlanta jointly applied for a Federal TIGER grant last April to transform Howard and DeKalb Avenues into “Complete Streets”, which it didn’t receive in 2014.

Of course, there are dozens upon dozens of other projects on the docket if the bond passes the muster of Atlanta voters.  You can check them out HERE.  Other improvements around Decatur include the repaving of various Atlanta roads (College Avenue, Oakdale Road, North Ave) and a variety of traffic signal improvements.

Photo courtesy of Google Streetview

70 thoughts on “Atlanta Bond Plan Includes Removing DeKalb Ave Reversible Lane, Installing Bike Lane”

  1. Are they going to at least put in turn lanes? If not, that’s going to cause even more gridlock than usual.

        1. Ha. Maybe yes, maybe no. I don’t believe that any actual schematic has been released. ABC’s an advocacy group so it could just as easily be an assumption or otherwise optimistic enthusiasm.

  2. Please let the drivers have DeKalb avenue. It’s far too dangerous to ride, and I seriously doubt that adding a bike lane is going to change that.

    Cyclists should stick with McLendon/Edgewood or College/Hosea/Wylie, which are currently far safer.

    Creating a congestion problem for cars on DeKalb by taking a lane away will likely just push them onto the aforementioned alternatives and create a car problem on those roads where one doesn’t exist today.


    1. I agree with all of this. But Edgewood is totally torn up. The bike lane is pitted with potholes and cracks and is a nightmare on a road bike.
      I ride Dekalb/Decatur Road from Krog Street to downtown. If they repaved the Edgewood bike lane, I would happily take that to work.
      For the record, I actually prefer sharrows and mutual respect between cars and bikes. Bike lanes are basically gutters for grit and debris on the road.

      1. Yeah, because of the condition of Edgewood, I’ve been using Euclid->Austin->Lake->Irwin->John Wesley Dobbs most of the time.

  3. I’d like to know more about the research behind complete streets. How do complete streets change traffic patterns and congestion? We’ve seen complete streets installed in many intown locations, including East Lake pretty recently. Complete streets are used nationally, so surely there is a body of research about them. That kind of information would help make the issue clearer. At the moment, a lot of what I read is from biking advocates.

  4. Bike lanes are dangerous and collect road debris that can’t be ridden on. A bike PATH down Dekalb however would be great! The suicide lanes are scary.

    1. interesting how some see this idea as an improvement that will help cars and bikes move more efficiently down the road while other see the very same idea as an insane nightmare scenario.

      also, not sure if anybody’s noticed, but there is a perfectly good mass transit system that literally parallels this road. if traffic does turn into a nightmare on this road (because of this infrastructure improvement or thanks to the thousands of people moving into the corridor every year) one can easily park their car at one of the marta stations and ride the train into town.

      our little metropolitan area is turning more and more urban every year. at some point people are going to have to get used to the fact that driving everywhere might not be the most efficient thing.

      1. Contrary to popular belief, not all Decaturites work in downtown Atlanta. Many who work in Cobb and elsewhere take DeKalb Ave. to access the Connector. Ain’t no transit in Cobb-land.

        1. Tried MARTA for years. I got tired of the stink of pee on the train in the summer, being “felt up” by my fellow riders when the train was full, loud music, and retail sales of incense and socks once the train was moving, and not a single MARTA officer in sight. Not going back to MARTA, ever.

          1. It’s actually gotten about a thousand times better. I never notice any smell issues, and I always see an officer around. Shocking – I know!

  5. I wonder how much demand there actually is for bike lanes on a narrow commuter road. I will also add that, currently, backups start before 7:00 am on Decatur Street when the bike lanes start in Atlanta (and the speeds drops to 15-20 mph from 35-40 mph, despite the posted 35 mph speed limit) – I’d expect a similar event wherever the road goes to single lane. Also, with the number of streets coming on to DeKalb (drive it sometime and count them), you would essentially need a near-continuous turn lane that would share space with the bike lane.

    While I’m all for bikers, adding bike lanes just to add them seems…shortsighted, especially when there are going to be some major impacts on other users. A PATH would make significantly more sense, would likely be safer, and would be something a pedestrian could use.

    1. Looking forward to this! The only other alternative for bikers trying to get from downtown to decatur (and the other way around) is to get on McLendon, with it’s steep hills. It’s exhausting. I would gladly take DeKalb Ave until it hits the PATH. This will allow me an easier route to visit my brother, his wife, and my nieces. Look forward to seeing them more often…

      1. You should try Howard>gravel lot>dirt path>pullman path>rogers>La France>Whiteford
        There’s still a hill at the pie factory, but I think the route is superior. Why they don’t try to develop this route for bikes, I don’t know.

          1. I’ve tried that route – used to live in Kirkwood and used it often. I’m not trying to start a fight, or an argument on the merits of bike lanes on this particular road. The alternatives just aren’t as convenient for me, personally. I don’t ride for exercise – I do so to get from A to B. Hosea to the south and McLendon to the north aren’t nearly as flat as DeKalb. So I am looking forward to using this, will use it often, and have friends who feel the same.

  6. With dedicated left turn lanes this might not be too bad. Definitely will help with traffic backups resulting from left turns.

  7. Dedicated left turn lanes with protected left turn signals will keep things moving much better than the reversible lanes.

    1. Sure, but are they going to widen the road? How can they replace the suicide lane with bike lanes AND add turn lanes? I want to see these plans!

      1. Me, too. This is going to have a detrimental impact on thousands of commuters, and bike lanes aside, I haven’t seen the studies that would indicate that making a dedicated turn lane all the way down DeKalb (especially when there are long stretches where there’s nothing to “turn” into on either side) is going to help traffic flow more smoothly.

  8. What a nightmare idea for those of us who work – and have to drive to work. I could see people moving to the burbs for better commutes if this key artery goes away. Simply insane… what is with this continued war on cars?

    1. Also note the subtle bait-and-switch going on here.

      Atlanta claims that it has a backlog of $900 million in needed infrastructure improvements, many of them critical, like repairs to structurally unsound bridges. Here’s how Kasim Reed described things in Nov. 2014:

      “Candidly, the list is so long it’s really not going to be a big secret,” Reed said. “Our (repair) backlog right now is in excess of $900 million. So we really do know the critical projects. They really are projects you’re not going to have a lot of debate about. Reed says the city will likely ask voters in March to approve a bond issue valued at up to $250 million. It will target crumbling bridges and roads – and improve traffic signal synchronization on major streets.”

      Target crumbling bridges and roads, and, oh by the way, tear up functional commuting arteries to install bike lanes. That’s the sort of “critical” project Reed has in mind.

      1. I would hardly call DeKalb Ave a functional commuting artery. It’s basically hell to drive on as is. One of the worst roads for potholes, constant congestion and a reversible lane which, in my view, just serves to back up traffic in multiple directions. The point of this project is not to install bike lanes. The point is to repave the road, and while they’re add it, add bike lanes, turn lanes, and other features that make it a smoother ride.

        1. If the point of the project was to pave the road, they’d . . . pave the road. All of the other stuff they’re adding has the purpose of changing the complexion of the road entirely to suit some tiny number of cyclists who already have perfectly acceptable options for travelling east or west through the same area.

        2. The classic example of adding turn lanes and bike lanes to a road involves a 4 lane highway, which DeKalb certainly is not. That either means no turn lanes or no true bike lanes (since every turn lane will take up the space the bike lanes will use).

          I suppose I can wait and see drawings, but this project really seems to be adding bike lanes to add bike lanes and assuming they are automatically a plus.

    2. Atlanta is not the only place to decide reversible are confusing/dangerous, so I guess the war on cars is universal 🙂 As far as people moving to the burbs- Unless a family is very well off, most families do have to make choices on what they value more when deciding where to live, it’s the rare few that get to have it all (large house intown and a short commute) If someone feels it’s more beneficial to move to Alpharetta because Dekalb Ave needed a turn lane, I’d say that’s slightly extreme, but it’s a personal choice. There will be plenty of people waiting to buy their home when they sell.

    3. My description of the Atlanta region’s nattering nabobs of negativity that are afraid of new ideas in the world of mobility: 20th century thinkers who now find Atlanta’s car-centric infrastructure lovable and sustainable even though they’ve been complaining for decades about how it doesn’t work.

  9. As a bike commuter and driver I would certainly always prefer a separated PATH to travel on, but having said that, I do know that ABC and GDOT are well versed in complete street design at this point and if they’ve seen fit to measure it and fit it in, then i trust them to try it.
    Its just paint and If it doesnt work, we’ll see another change. Let’s give it a chance, ABC is doing great work all over the city. Who would have ever dreamed there was room for a bike lane on Ponce down by the Ponce City Market area? Turns out there is and it was just re-measuring and re-applying paint.
    And if it gets Dekalb Ave repaved, we ALL win. Standing by to try it.

    1. “Its just paint and If it doesnt work, we’ll see another change. Let’s give it a chance”

      That sounds very reasonable, but practically it will never work that way. Atlanta is not going to spend millions to re-work the road and then just switch it back to its prior state after some sort of trial period. If this project is approved, it will be with us for a long time whether it works or not.

    2. I would argue Ponce was a somewhat unique situation – it was a six lane road with no dedicated turn lanes and extraordinarily narrow lanes (I remember situations where you could not safely pass a Marta bus with tires literally scraping the curb because the lanes weren’t wide enough). In contrast, DeKalb has 3 lanes – assuming one lane for travel in either direction and a dedicated central left turn lane, you would still have problems with the large number of drivers turning right off/on the road, likely through the bike lane (assuming that will be by the curb).

    3. As one who frequently drives the area of Ponce De Leon Avenue mentioned, in the 18 months or so that these bike lanes have been in existence, I have seen exactly one cyclist using them. Add to this the barely-used bike lane converting 10th Street to one lane going west along Piedmont Park from Monroe to Charles Allen, which causes a single car wanting to turn left on Charles Allen to back up traffic to a ridiculous extent on weekends. This is just another example of social engineering by those who want to dictate how others live, regardless of the consequences. Perhaps the massive Ponce Market development will be filled with nothing but car-free cyclists, at last converting Atlanta into the Utopian paradise envisioned by our right-thinking minority.

      1. I get what you’re saying, but…you don’t have to wait in line in your car to turn left at whatever intersection. You’re choosing to use your car at a time when there is congestion. Complete streets is about giving people options to use the public right-of-way and not only feel safe if they are driving a car. If you think a bike lane next to a park is a bad idea, then show up at the public meetings and state your case.

      2. I commute down 10th Street three days a week and see a good deal of traffic in the bike lane, especially when it’s warm and/or light outside. They’ve made my route home during peak Piedmont Park time much more tolerable–far fewer bikers darting in and out of traffic, which used to occur pretty frequently. (I’m sure all of you Responsible Cyclists don’t do that, but the park gets a lot of idiot traffic.) Apparently, at least in some cases, if you build it, they will come.

        Also, I am in favor of anything that gets DeKalb repaved. It’s basically a dirt road along some stretches.

  10. The only thing that keeps me off DeKalb is the pot-holed surface. Cars don’t count. (Just kidding, kind of like some car drivers treating bikes like they don’t count as traffic).

  11. Are they going to fix all the freaking Potholes up and down Dekalb Ave? I swear it’s responsible for 3 flats and at least 10 re-alignments.

  12. I would use this via bicycle all the time. an awesome idea. Commuting into downtown and the beltline would be wonderful.

  13. I have driven Dekalb Ave. daily from Decatur to downtown ATL and Midtown for 20 years. When this bike lane proposal was first announced last April, I also was against the idea. However, due in large part to that April 2014 post, I then decided to give it a shot based on the old ‘if you can’t beat em, join em.’ Got a bike and a goofy helmet (but still refuse to wear the really goofy sponsored logo crap. I will not need that until I compete in the Tour de France). Now, I have had a complete change of heart.

    My commute to midtown is almost exactly the same by bike as by car via the Dekalb Ave sidewalk thingy to Rockyford/McClendon/Freedom Parkway bike lane/Beltline. The only difficult spot is McClendon for the reasons indicated in the April post. Dekalb Avenue would make this even faster. This is also our best option for tying the Decatur ‘spoke’ into the beltline ‘hub’. Really hope this happens. For those worried about car traffic, get out of bed and leave earlier. 6:30am is smooth sailing on Dekalb.

    As well said on this post many times before: ‘build for the future we envision, not the present we endure’.

  14. Difficult to see how this could pay off. Oh, I forgot about all the bikes that I see every day using the new lanes Decatur has set aside.

  15. If bikes had more infrastructure, more people would ride bikes. One begets the other, it’s not chicken or the egg. I live in Decatur, and unfortunately work in Cobb so there is no mas transit alternative (if there was I’d do it). I both bike on evenings and weekends from Decatur to downtown/midtown, beltline, you name it; and drive to work M-F taking Dekalb Ave to the connector in town.

    Bikes lanes are en exceptional idea for Dekalb Ave. I’ve been waiting for them for years. Reasons why?

    1. Motorized vehicles wont have to wait behind bikes commuting on Dekalb during busy commute hours.
    2. The suicide lane is grossly underutilized. During both my morning and evening commutes, there are certain sections of it with no motorized vehicles(for those with snarky comments I work 8-5 just like you). Dedicated turn lanes would prove much more effective.
    3. It will be safer for both bikes and motorized vehicles. While I agree a PATH trail along MARTA would be exceptional, in some areas there is not enough frontage, and in others CSX owns that frontage.

    This “cars vs. bikes” debate is played out. It’s like watching politics – all conjecture with no progress or production. It’s time to work together folks. Drop the Us vs. Them mentality on both sides and compromise. More than you exist on this planet. We all have to share at some point.

  16. I’m not sure the bike lanes are necessary (because of other nearby options), but something’s got to give. How often do you see a DeKalb Ave rookie pull into the center lane to make a left when they don’t have the lane? Now you have the epic standoff – horns blaring, nobody going anywhere. Somebody mentioned nobody is ever in the center lane. Why? Anybody who drives it enough has had a near death experience in that lane and vows to stay out of it, no matter what.Traffic will definitely move smoother west bound in the non-morning rush hours without the big backups at Arizona, Whiteford and Krog. Yes it’s going to slow down the morning/evening rush, but that just puts it on par with every other major artery. All things considered, I think losing the reversible and gaining left turn lanes will be a plus. Hopefully i am wrong about the bike lanes and they will be used.

  17. This is ridiculous, how can the ratio of bikes to cars even justify modifying this major street? Bikes need to get on the sidewalk, a majority of these bikers dont follow the basic rules of the road

    1. it’s illegal for adults to ride bikes on the sidewalk and a majority of drivers don’t follow the basic rules of the road.

      do you have a valid, non-prejudiced reason why this major street should not be modified?

    2. There was a time when the number of cars paled in comparison to the number of horses, too. But that didn’t stop the push (in the form of aggressive, car-friendly infrastructure upgrades) to accommodate them, and then we got what we got. Who knows what choices people will make in the future if public space is increasingly divvied up in a less one-sided way.

      1. Of course cars were a major technological innovation which improved upon the horse in almost every possible way. We built car-friendly infrastructure because people demanded cars, especially after assembly lines brought prices down to the point where more and more people could afford them. That is quite different from the current debate, in which “complete streets” advocates want to retrofit seemingly every road to accommodate the 19th century technology of bicycles.

        And I suppose I agree that no one really knows how many people will ditch car commuting for bicycles if we tear up DeKalb. But a vague hope that “it might just work” is an extraordinarily weak justification for this particular project. I would be more likely to support the project if there was no reasonable way to cycle from Decatur to downtown, but there most certainly is. That cyclists might prefer a newer, perhaps easier east/west route hardly justifies reducing DeKalb’s throughput capacity by 50%.

        1. I wasn’t arguing the relative worth or value of particular technologies. I was responding to the suggestion that the present ratio of bikes to cars fails to justify making a change. Historically speaking, a street’s current users have not been the only consideration.

  18. I’m not against biking. I own a couple of them and my family all enjoys riding for exercise, but if this change makes auto commuting worse then I am 100% against it. I’m just not going to ride a bike 10 miles to and from work downtown each day. Too many variables. I know that I’d enjoy it, but it doesn’t make sense in my situation. When I moved to this part of town from Smyrna 12 years ago I was a little depressed the first couple of times I rode down Dekalb Ave to work. I-75 was always a smooth, no stoplight drive during my non-rush commute. Now I love it. Much less stressful even when going in during rush. The only time I want to punch my face is heading downtown late in the afternoon at Krog.

  19. I wonder if widening the street is possible. Seems to reiterate what some have said – only 2 lanes is going to mean terrible congestion for rush hour. Terrible. I’m all for a bike lane but it seems especially west bound that we need that second lane. I’d be fine keeping the reversible lane and adding a bike lane even. But adding a bike lane instead of having another driving lane is going to be awful.

  20. I commute to Midtown and ride my bike fairly regularly. When I drive, I use Dekalb. I don’t think bike lanes on Dekalb are such a great idea. McClendon is a better alternative. Although it doesn’t have a dedicated bike lane all the way through, I have found the drivers on McClendon to be very respectful of cyclists, and I have never had a close call on that stretch of road. I don’t know the reason, but drivers on that stretch always give plenty of room when passing and tend to drive the speed limit. A true anomaly in metro area.

    1. Indeed. As a matter of fact the weekly CVS group ride proceeds down McClendon. You have to remain vigilant on that stretch of road — which is always the case, really — but it’s wide enough to accommodate bikes with a margin of safety. And you can even use McClendon to cut over to the Path for a route downtown.

  21. To all those complaining about bikes on DeKalb Avenue and so forth:

    You live in a city, deal with it.

    If you don’t like it, there are plenty of suburbs in Metropolitan Atlanta you can move to where there will be McMansions but no bike lanes, mass transit or any of those other scary urban things that you don’t like. Quit complaining and move. It will make Atlanta and Decatur better for the rest of us. Thanks.


  22. Sorry–you think DeKalb is a clusterf*ck now, just wait till this happens. I don’t have any real problem with bike lanes, but they need to be worked into places where they’ll actually be used, and in places that aren’t already a hot mess to traverse (for everyone–not just cars).

    As someone who drives this way every day, I’m not looking forward to this.

  23. @ terminatorx It is illegal for adults to bicycle on the sidewalk here.

    Bikers should follow the rules of the road… and some rules should change to be more in line with common sense.

    One such idea is allowing the use of the Idaho stop. This will allow cyclists to get out of your way.

    If bicyclists and car drivers had better (safer,courteous) interactions there would be no need for separate bike lanes.

    I love biking and my goal is to be safe, get where I’m going, and not annoy drivers or cause them major issues in the process.

    I wear bright clothes so drivers can see me from far away and create a plan for passing me without hitting me.

    I don’t drive on super fast roads but I can easily go 20-25 mph on my bike so think roads up to ~35 mph should be fair game for me on my bike.

    I’m a driver too. When I am driving behind a slow biker I get annoyed…. then realize I should just treat them as I would a slow moving vehicle. Calm down and pass when it’s safe to do so. No problem.

    +1 atlpaddy

  24. I understand the idea of creating disincentives for cars and better incentives for other forms of transportation. But for a disincentive to work, commuters have to have access to the desired alternative mode of transportation. This seems like it’s just going to create more frustration for all those already frazzled DeKalb Ave drivers who have no good alternative.

    Good biking equipment is expensive, living a reasonable biking distance from work is expensive, having a shower waiting for you after your ride in is a luxury most people don’t have. And for a lot of people, MARTA and the amazing Atlanta streetcar aren’t going to get them where they need to go. If that’s the case, congratulations! Your commute just got longer!

    1. Your points are on point – and I agree – Atlanta does need to address those other factors. Affordable housing near “alternative” transit is sorely needed. And this is going to sound snarky, and I apologize for that, but you left one factor out of your cost equation. Cars, those don’t cost anything right?

Comments are closed.