Community Meeting This Evening On Turning DeKalb Avenue Into a “Complete Street”


If you’ve driven along the DeKalb Avenue this week you may have seen one of the many signs announcing a public meeting to discuss planned DeKalb Avenue Corridor Improvements under the Renew Atlanta Program.

We first reported back in January that these improvements would turn DeKalb Ave into a “Complete Street” and would remove the infamous reversible lane on the road.

Intown Atlanta has a bit more info on the meeting HERE.

33 thoughts on “Community Meeting This Evening On Turning DeKalb Avenue Into a “Complete Street””

  1. I strongly believe the removal of the reversible lane will have a very significant negative impact on people that use Dekalb ave to commute into the downtown for work on Mon-Fri.

    If the community as whole believes that the improvements for bikers, safety, and travel times for people going against commuter traffic are worth the significant negative impact on commuters, than I, as a commuter on Dekalb, will accept that and deal with it.

    But please do not try to sell me on how replacing the reversible lane with a left turn lane would somehow help commuters to and from downtown. While that may be the case on some roads with reversible lanes, on Dekalb where the number of people going with the reversible lane trying to make a left is very small and where the reversible lane is so heavily used there is no way that the removal of the reversible lane has anything but a negative impact to commuters.

    1. I don’t think the city of Atlanta is putting much priority on the opinion of commuters who use Dekalb Ave as a way to get from someplace else (Decatur/Avondale prime examples) to downtown Atlanta. This is about all the people who now live in what used to be a wasteland of scrapyards and what they want their street to be. The Atlanta residents who need to be worried are the ones on Ponce, McClendon, Memorial, Hosea and the N-S streets commuters will use to get to those streets. I don’t think there is any doubt removing the reversible lane will significantly hurt rush hour flow. Maybe this will even prompt some people to get on that test that zips by every 10 minutes while folks sit in the gridlock.

  2. Definitely not interested in the bike/car argument…

    My question is if anyone has seen anything like a concrete plan about how the configuration of Dekalb might be at intersections such as Arizona? Complete street would include bike lanes and I just cannot figure out how one might accommodate both a turn lane, bike lanes, and sidewalks at that intersection. There just plain does not seem to be enough room.

    1. Agreed. Dedicated turn lanes were one of the things promised to Atlanta voters before they voted on the infrastructure bond. If they can’t add protected left turns at every underpass intersection, they should just resurface what is there and move on. At that point the whole “it’s better for everybody” argument becomes irrelevant. It’d benefit a handful of cyclists, to the detriment of 10,000 commuters.

    2. This. 1000 times this. Hopefully they will have drawings or other information about how they can put 4 lanes’ worth of infrastructure (2 traffic lanes, 1 turn lane, 2 bike lanes and sidewalks) into 3 lanes of space. Seems to me that, if it was possible, someone would already be doing it.

  3. I’m usually 100% supportive of these types of improvements, but turning DeKalb Ave. into a 2-lane road would have a huge impact on traffic both on DeKalb and adjacent neighborhoods. DeKalb Ave. is a major East/West commuter route, and it’s one of the only streets in Atlanta that actually moves during peak traffic periods. Funneling rush hour traffic into one lane would be a disaster. If you want to ride a bike, then it’s very easy to use the parallel streets which are already marked with bike lanes.

    I do agree they need to completely replace the existing signage/lights, but I really hope they don’t turn this into 2-lanes.

  4. Whatever they do, it has to be safer than that reversible lane. I was coming back towards Decatur yesterday, and I was riding behind a motorcycle. We had the green arrow. Someone headed back into Atlanta switched into the reversible lane and was heading straight at the biker. He was saved from being squished because the rightmost lane was momentarily empty. I was saved too. The driver honked at us (!) and cluelessly continued to drive in the wrong lane.

    1. I was almost in an accident during rush hour this morning when an outbound car was in the middle lane and a minivan had to swerve to miss it.

    2. I have been driving in the center lane on this road 7-8 am and 4-6 pm every single work day for that past 5 to 6 years. In total ( non-biased) I have seen one accident. I have counted maybe 3 or 4 wrong way drivers that looked like they were pre-occupied. I would love to see the accident count. I know its most likely higher than what I encountered, still I cant imagine that would outweigh the chaos that would ensue if they change the flow of traffic as it currently stands.
      I can change my mind but they would have to prove the modification by factual numbers and or provide a computer model of how the new traffic flow would look like.
      If they change this road – I will be cutting through the neighborhoods – which I don’t want to do. But I already know my frustration level will be too high to not become an aggressive driver.

      1. 3-4 wrong way drivers in 6 years? I see a wrong way driver easily once a week, not to mention people inappropriately turning from the center lane onto Arizona almost daily. Thankfully, *most* wrong way drivers realize within 50-100 feet of the merge that they are in the wrong lane, but I am amazed there aren’t more accidents.

  5. I drive this lane every single day. Its efficient as is.
    First I drive in the center lane because the outer two are horrible with potholes etc. Stop texting and keep your eye on the road – you wouldnt have the nuts that cause near accidents.
    I am all about equality and certainly can buy into bicycles and walkers etc BUT.. this is not a street for bicycles. This is a thoroughfare for cars. Its been proven the more stressful drivers become the more accidents happen. The backups that will happen when they modify this to bike and medians will create more and more frustrated drivers, make them not use this street and start carving through the quiet adjacent neighborhoods. Re-pave it, and keep as is. I would rather ride my bike through inman than use dekalb. You see what they did at the end of dekalb as you get near the hospital – the backup is a shame. It used to be very simple and flowing. I have seen ambulances stuck because all lanes were blocked with either confused drivers not understanding the turn lane, or traffic backed up so bad there is no way to get through. Why do they continuously want to fix something that is not broken. Concentrate on other more important things.

  6. IMHO, changing the lights to include extra long & dedicated left turn arrows would greatly improve the flow at a minimal cost. Trying to make a left turn onto Arizona (when heading towards Atlanta) takes quite some time and bungles up that traffic flow.

    Of course resurfacing and striping is always appreciated by me and my car’s shocks too!

    1. Sensible traffic light intervals, based on traffic volume? I don’t expect to live long enough to see the City of Atlanta understand the concept, much less implement it. DeKalb is already messed up–witness the overly-long interval for Rocky Ford at off-peak hours and the same condition at the Moreland viaduct at all hours. Unfortunately, DeKalb County seems to be adopting the City of Atlanta’s random approach to traffic-light management. I need offer no more proof than the phrase “Commerce Drive.”

      A traffic bureau that cannot coordinate two lights a few yards apart (as Commerce at E. Ponce and Sycamore demonstrate, not to mention Commerce at Trinity, Swanton, and West Ponce) cannot be relied upon to use signalization to move traffic on two-lane streets that were formerly three or four lanes. I’m thinking local traffic “engineers” took offense when Atlanta did not come in at the top of nationwide rush-hour delay surveys, and they are working overtime to claim the title next time.

  7. I fully support these changes as someone who walks, bikes, and drives on DeKalb. The benefit of making the road safer for everyone and encouraging more folks to walk and bike would seem to outweigh the potential drawbacks of removing one single lane. These types of changes are being instituted in cities throughout the US. Based on my experience in a couple of those cities, the angst leading up to such a change doesn’t match the end result. And please don’t use the excuse that people on bikes can just use other streets – that argument isn’t used for cars and, just like drivers, sometimes people on bikes just want to use the straightest, most efficient route (instead of using side streets with a bunch of stop signs). We all have choices regarding how we get places and hopefully this change will encourage more folks to walk and bike and overall be more active.

    1. I also support these changes, as a person who drives and bikes, and finds both modes equally stressful on DeKalb Ave. I look forward to a time when the decision to ride my bike will be an easy one to make, more often.

  8. I know people who have been in accidents because of that deadly reversible lane! And I’ve seen many other close calls. It’s ridiculous. It should removed. The effect on traffic won’t be so bad — engineers have looked this over. The dedicated turn lanes will actually be very efficient. Who hasn’t had the experience of waiting for A VERY LONG TIME behind someone who wishes to turn left from an outside lane when the reversible lane is going in the opposite direction? This would eliminate that situation. It’s a great idea, and the bike lanes and better sidewalks are a plus, too.

  9. As a biker, I think that the complete streets idea is rather foolish. It has given the idea to people that they do not have to look both ways when crossing, which is very dangerous. As said, there are parallel streets that are better for biking. There is already the bike path going halfway down DeKalb. If a painted bike lane could be added, it might be beneficial. Really, widening the road would, actually, make it safer. The idea that dangerous roads are safer is much like “if we go slower we will get there faster”. It astonishes me that the government keeps allowing itself to be put in a corner by continually making bad decisions, limiting options.

    If there really is a concern with increasing bicycling & connectivity & safety, making speed bumps safer for bicyclists would be number one on the list. Or, eliminating them all together for better designed roads. I am not sure how having all the citizens at odds with one another has helped anyone. Except, maybe, the realtors.

    DeKalb promised better timing of the lights over a decade ago. They remain timed against cars & dangerous for cyclists. It is time for the proper money & skill & thought to be put into the infrastructure.

  10. Funny it’s almost like there should be transit lines that run parallel to this road to help accommodate all the displaced commuters…… same arguments used against reducing lanes on ponce into the city and none of that really materialized other the road being more inviting to multi modal transportation. We have built a city completely oriented to car travel and these are the painful but necessary steps that are needed to undo this.

      1. Yes, TinMan! That would be great! Extend the PATH all the way along DeKalb instead of having it end at Rocky Ford.

    1. Totally different scenarios. Ponce was 6 lanes with no center turn lane. It’s still 2 in each direction now. Dekalb will become single lanes each direction with protected lefts at the underpasses only. The second someone wants to turn left anywhere else, like the multitude of businesses and residences and neighborhoods, it’ll choke the whole thing. All the changes to ponce to accommodate bikes does not seem to have made much of an impact on their decisions to actually use them.

      1. Yes, Queen Cersei — you’re right. The bike lanes on Ponce are terrible and far too frightening for cyclists to use. We need protected bike lanes on Ponce!

    2. Ted has the progressive mindset nailed in that post. First we built transit and hoped you’d use it. When that did not work we ruined the roads so that you were compelled to use the transit. For your own good, of course.

      1. So let’s adopt the regressive mindset – spend whatever it takes on roads so everybody can drive wherever whenever. I’m not saying people should be forced to take transit, but we should not prioritize car travel over everything else. Traffic is getting worse on DeKalb and removing the reversible lane will make it worse for downtown commuters. People can spend more time in traffic or get on the train. It’s a choice.

  11. As a bike commuter I support any progressive changes that will allow me to safely bike commute inside the perimeter. If one is auto commuting then it would be best to put your energies into finding alterative transportation as the traffic is only going to get heavier in the next few years – this is obvious to anyone who is paying attention to the large numbers of multi-family buildings going up throughout Fulton & DeKalb.

    1. I’d be much more in line with the idea to change Dekalb Ave if Marta was already a good option, but the fact of the matter is that it’s not, especially for those of us who have young children to take/pick up from school and using Marta isn’t really an option in the first place.

      The fact of the matter is that the vast, vast majority of people who use Dekalb are using it for driving a car. Have there been studies or surveys done to show that if a change is made, how many people would actually use Dekalb to truly commute by bike? I don’t want to have a decision be made that will vastly affect so many of us that commute to downtown every day, for the benefit of a very few. If it will significantly raise the # of commuters on bikes, that’s a different story, but my gut feeling is that it will not.

      As for those that don’t like the reversable lanes, how hard is it to get better signs? The ones up now are small and don’t do a very good job for those people that aren’t familiar with the road. I’m sure putting up better, more efficient traffic signals to indicate what lane to use is a much better use of our tax money than a wholesale change which will cost millions upon millions of dollars.

      I’m certainly not against commuting by bike. If I lived close enough to work and didn’t have young children to deal with in the morning and evenings, I’d love to do it myself, but I don’t live close enough, which is probably the case for many of us that live in the Decatur area and work in and around downtown. I also personally don’t feel like the benefit we’d get by completely changing this road would be great enough for the investment and adverse affect it would have on those that currently use it to commute to work and back.

  12. Currently Georgia law states that bicycles are supposed to be on the road. If drivers don’t want to be slowed down by bicycles they should be advocating for separate protected bicycle lanes.

  13. I’ve been using Dekalb Ave. since ’02 through all different work hours. I like it as it is, but won’t complain about changes if that happens. I remember being confused when they turned downtown to one lane a few years ago and it’s not been that bad. The most dangerous thing I see with that center lane is when someone tries to turn left from the right lane when the center lane is open heading the same direction. A couple of weeks ago someone in front of me slowed down to turn left and I could see a motorcycle coming up on us. I laid into my horn bigtime to try and stop the car from turning left right into the approaching-from-behind cycle. The car did delay enough to let the cyclist go by w/out getting hit. I’ve seen this scary situation play out many times.

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