Will You Use the Commerce Drive Cycle Track?

Last night the Decatur City Commission approved $1 million in funding for the long-planned Commerce Drive “cycle track”, which will connect the  bike lanes that are part of the North McDonough Streetscape improvements to the planned Church Street “cycle track” just north of the city.  (In case you’re wondering where the $1 mil will come from, here’s the breakdown – $550K from County HOST revenues, $200k from the Path Foundation, $200k – City’s Capital Improvements Fund and $50k from the Alexan.)

Though this has long been discussed, the above rendering is the first street view I’ve seen of the project.

During his presentation to the Commission, Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon stated that 60% of residents are willing to bike if they feel safe.  So this project is part of a larger effort to expand Decatur’s dedicated biking infrastructure, so more people will consider jumping on their two-wheelers and heading into town.

So, based on the rendering above and that lacking description, how are you feeling about the chances that you’ll utilize the coming cycling lanes on Commerce and around Decatur?

And before you answer, here’s the route map for all you visual learners…

Rendering and map courtesy of the Decatur City Commission Agenda

69 thoughts on “Will You Use the Commerce Drive Cycle Track?”

  1. I will also absolutely use it. And here is a link to the full Decatur PATH Connectivity and Implementation Plan that was adopted on December 19, 2016: http://www.decaturga.com/home/showdocument?id=10233 In the plan there are a lot more renderings and descriptions of the Commerce Drive section as well as other sections. This connectivity plan will really transform Decatur and will give people of all ages the option to safely get around the city through active transportation means.

    1. Thanks for posting that document, it is very comprehensive and I am hoping all of those projects can somehow get done. According to the document the Commerce Dr cycle track will start construction sometime in the second half of 2017. I hope that is still the case and the Agnes Scott College connector is not far behind.

  2. i’m torn with all these plans. I ride all over this town, often with kid trailer in tow, but i just don’t see myself riding half of these path. for example, going south on mcdonough you’re on one side of the road, you have to wait at the light to cross the tracks, then you have to wait again to cross the street to get on the agnes scott side, then you go off the road so you can then make a right to cross mcdonough again and go down oakview. i’ll just ride down mcdonough and ignore the path. or the hosea trail heading west, you’re on hosea then you have to take a detour before crossing hosea at coan park. why not keep going down hosea and making a left?

    i know some people like separated lanes, but i much rather be part of traffic. just make the lanes wide enough and put sharrows in; it’s much cheaper. when i ride i’m trying to get places, not meander around in a half pedestrian half vehicular mode having to watch out for cars as i turn onto/off of separated tracks and look out for pedestrians as i navigate greenways.

    but this is much better than nothing.

  3. I will definitely use it! This will be great, especially when linked up with the McDonough cycle track. Students will be able to get safely to Renfroe and Decatur High. There’s also a plan — already fully funded, from what I understand — to build a cycle track along Church Street. This interconnected network will allow safe cycling from Northern Decatur to Decatur High, Renfroe, and, of course, the PATH Stone Mountain trail. Studies show that 60% of people would like to bike but feel afraid because the streets seem dangerous. This bike network will let more people enjoy biking in Decatur.

  4. I see myself sitting in extra traffic thanks to fewer lanes for cars while the bike lanes remain empty. While in theory it seems to be appealing to remove car lanes for bike lanes, in practice it makes traffic awful.

    In London many traffic lanes have been removed in favor of bike lanes and it has made traffic there much worse.

    Also, I can’t tell you how many times I have been stuck behind a bike on College Dr, while there is a very nice parallel bike path on the other side of the tracks.

    Real cyclists will just use the road anyhow and this bike path will not be an effective use of space.

    1. there’s also a very nice parallel road on the other side of the tracks. one with even more lanes too.

      1. Yea, perhaps the clip is the internal monologue. $2,000 road bikes, spandex with advertisements, riding in the rain, not letting you pass but then passing you on the side when there is a red light and continue to run the red light so you get to try to pass them again.

        maybe that is cyclists, not

    2. breakeven – I’ve got to take issue with your assessment of what happened in London as cycling expanded. I lived there when cycling rapidly grew as a mode of transport and while the congestion charge went into effect for private motor vehicles in Central London. It made cycling safer, the air measurably cleaner and public transit flowed much more smoothly. Granted, ATL is a lot different than London, but by many standards, better cycling infrastructure in that city had led to serious improvements in transport and living.

      1. Vs sitting in a cab for an extra 30 minutes to an hour? There are far more vehicles than than cyclists. Taking a bike can be an option for some but not for most. While it may be a good benefit for those cyclists, it creates an larger inconvenience for many more drivers and non-cyclists (taxi, car, bus pax).

        Why don’t we just close Commerce, Trinity Place, Ponce de Leon and Howard drives to vehicle traffic then? That would make it a cycling paradise!

        I think bike lanes are good but not in substitution for traffic lanes. Perhaps an idea might be to go after abandoned alleys and right of ways to find the space.

      2. Actually the biggest London changes have been in the last couple years with the so-called bike superhighways there. There has been mass removal of traffic lanes and traffic is particularly bad, so bad that pollution is likely increased. The congestion fee dates to much earlier.

  5. Bicycles are vehicles. While this will encourage use, I prefer the flexibility of moving with traffic, especially in congested areas where vehicle speeds are already reduced.

  6. Yes, my family will use it, and I’m enthusiastic about using it with my little ones. We’d cycle around downtown more often as a family if I weren’t as concerned about their safety when we’re moving with traffic.

  7. Yes, although I am heartsick that it wasn’t available back when my children were younger and more amenable to family bike rides to school, church, dining, whatever.

  8. Sure! However, they need to be sure they also provide additional bike parking around the square because the more people end up riding, the more of a commodity bike parking will become.

  9. Yes, as a daily bicycle commuter and recreational/fitness cyclist, I will use this proposed cycle track many times per week.

    1. I won’t use it either. The 18 bike riders who say they will use it are way outnumbered by the rest of us who will find the traffic congestion even worse than it is. $1 million for 18 riders. Wow!

      1. You really can’t blame the already existent congestion on the imaginary ’18’ cyclists you cite. It has much more to do with all the one-person-one-vehicle traffic that traverses the city.

        1. Bikes are a difficult option for families with small children. You’d have to be pretty hard core here to do so.

          I would guess that a whole lot of those single rider cars are not Decatur residents and would not ride a bike here.

          1. Biking with small children is possible and there is a growing number of families in Decatur, Atlanta, and across the country who are getting around the city by cargo bikes that can carry two kids. I have a two-year-old and I take him to daycare on my bike or on MARTA. I know many families who do the same with two kids. I acknowledge that this is not an option for everyone. However, it is an option for a lot of people and more and more people are choosing that option. With safe bicycle infrastructure, even more people will choose biking over driving.

            1. A single two-year-old is portable. How would you do with a four-year-old, or with multiple young kids? That is a challenge that does not scale well.

              Some people will take more short trips, but I think a majority of the rush hour traffic in town (that causes an inability to get across town) is not from residents who have an easy trip to downtown Decatur.

              While I can take bike trips to downtown Decatur just fine, I need my car to go to Buckhead, contenting with all the other traffic that is either coming through or to Decatur.

              1. When your young kids are young teenagers, you will be really glad that there are safe cycle routes throughout Decatur

              2. Two kids is probably the reasonable limit on a bike. I know many families with two kids who primarily use a bike to get them around and the kids are older than two. Also, I ride 7.7 miles one way with my kid, which takes about 35 minutes. To get my kid to the same location by car on a more direct route (DeKalb Ave) that is just 6 miles takes 40 to 45 minutes. Riding a bike will usually save you time. As for getting to Buckhead from Decatur, a car is not needed as you can take the train. There are other realistic transportation options than using a car. Better bike and transit infrastructure will give more people more reason to move around the city by means other than by car. This will also ultimately help those who will only consider driving as there will be less people driving, thus less traffic.

            2. Could you please point me in the direction of a cargo bike that cost under $1,000. The truth is most parents do not have the luxury of being able to ride/walk their kids to school and get to work on time. Believe me, if I was able to do so it would be great but most of us live with the reality of driving 30-45 minutes to work. The constant addition of road diets is forcing drivers (me included) off of roads intended for heavy vehicular traffic and onto neighborhood streets. The diet on McDonough (which is permanent) has forced me to cut through neighborhoods on my daily route and I’m likely not the only one. Personally I would like to see narrower lanes with a designated bike lane on Commerce going both directions. Separated lanes are not ideal for drivers or bikers as cars entering or exiting driveways are not expecting fast traffic from anywhere except the road.

              1. If you live in Decatur and work in downtown Atl, Midtown Atl, Ga Tech, Emory or anywhere in between it is safe and reasonable to ride a bike or to combine biking and MARTA. See my comment above. If you work in the outer suburbs, biking from Decatur is probably not a realistic option. The population of Decatur and Atlanta will only continue to increase. If we don’t provide safe alternative means of transportation, but focus only on car transportation, in just a few years the traffic will be absolutely crushing. By investing in protected bike lanes Decatur’s officials are being very smart and forward thinking. With three MARTA train stops and a future network of protected bike lanes, Decatur will avoid a devastating traffic problem and will likely be a national model for smart transportation management and smart growth.

                1. I agree that those working in the places you list have alternative transportation options. Unfortunately I’m not so fortunate. Decatur is creating a crushing traffic problem. I agree it would be great to improve biking and pedestrian infrastructure but we are doing this at the expense of those who have no other option than to drive. We could easily make this section of commerce more bike friendly without removing a travel lane. Forget a moat, we are trapping ourselves in and keep others out of our city through road diets and the traffic congestion they create. Again, could you please point me to a cargo bike <$1,000. I’m seriously interested in buying one.

                  1. Commerce Drive was built during the1960s and 1970s with the idea that widening roads will help reduce traffic congestion. However, there is an ever-growing amount of research that shows that widening roads leads to more traffic. See this recent New York Times article from March 8th that states “Whenever a road is built or an older road is widened, more people decide to drive more. Build more or widen further, and even more people decide to drive. Repeat to infinity.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/08/upshot/self-driving-cars-cant-cure-traffic-but-economics-can.html?_r=0

                    As for a cargo bike that is under $1000, below are two that are exactly $1000. There was an Atlas Sun cargo bike that was about $650, but I don’t think that it is still being sold.

                    Yuba’s Boda Boda: http://yubabikes.com/boda-boda/boda-boda-8-speed
                    Yuba Mundo V4: https://www.rei.com/product/101377/yuba-mundo-v4-7-speed-cargo-bike-2016

                    And as Hannah mentioned, you can get a Leap, the new version of the Free Radical for $600: http://www.xtracycle.com/leap/

                    The best deal that I’ve seen is this electric assist RadWagon: https://www.radpowerbikes.com/pages/radwagon

                    I hope that you get a cargo bike!

              2. A good cargo bike ranges from $1300 to $6000 for a very high quality electric assist. These will allow you to downsize to one car or no car at all. And they come with very little maintenance costs, no gas costs, and no insurance costs. Compare the cost of a cargo bike to that of a car. Cargo bikes are not cheap, but cars are far more expensive.

                1. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t get 1,300 for my car. Also removing a car from my household isn’t really an option since transporting 2 young ones in all weather conditions (plus grocery shopping with kids ect.) is not feasible via bike. I’m simply pointing out that “get a cargo bike” is not as simple as it seems and is really a luxury item for those with abundant time and disposable income.

              3. Xtracycle makes an extender (Free Radical) that gets installed on a standard bike. My husband added one of these to the mountain bike that he purchased in 1992 and hauled kids from Oakhurst to Glennwood and F.Ave for years. The kids loved it rain or shine. The Free Radical did cost about $300 when he bought it 5 years ago, but since he hasn’t bought a new bike in 25 years it worked out OK.

  10. I will absolutely use it! And more importantly — I will be much happier to send my kid to ride to destinations south of the tracks (like FAVE) if there is a protected way to get there from the north side where we live.

  11. I don’t own a bike anymore but when I decided to bike commute daily to downtown Atlanta, I took the Atlanta Bicycle Campaign’s Effective Cycling class first. As a result, I’m much more comfortable with being part of traffic. The lack of standards and traffic rules regarding separated paths can be confusing to both motorists and cyclists.

  12. I will use it. I already ride 1/2 of the route that indicates a cycle track. My only concern is how hard will it be to turn west onto Ponce to access businesses that are west of the square. I frequently travel to the Dancing Goats area of Decatur.

  13. wish the city would provide better access to the baby kroger. I know it is not everyone’s fav, but it is so close, it should be walkable and bike-able. I have tried and It is rough access imo. I feel terrible for the seniors and handicapped people trying to get there.

    1. This is a great idea! Baby Kroger is difficult to reach, and that crossing on Commerce is terrible. Creating an effective crossing for people on bikes and on foot would go a long way toward making downtown even more livable.

  14. This again shows that Decatur’s government have no clue. There are not enough lanes for a large part of the day on Commerce, but yet again like the waste of money for those humps that were put in on Ponce in front of the courthouse this is nairve and stupid thinking. Then to force the visitors and workers into even less lanes. It shows again the anti-visitor and anti-worker attitude that they have had for a long time. Trying to force people to ride bicycles.

    1. The resident call for bicycle infrastructure goes back 17 years to the 2000 Strategic Plan which resulted in specific goals being spelled out in the 2004 Greenway Plan, then reaffirmed and further refined in 2007’s Community Transportation Plan. Finally, the desire for bicycle infrastructure — already requested three times over ten years via public process — was once again tested and affirmed by thousands of Decatur residents during 2010’s Strategic Plan.

      Are you really suggesting that the present commission is just acting on an ill-informed whim? They’re doing what we the people asked them to do. If only our leadership at higher levels of government were committed to doing the same!

      1. Those things are mainly drawn up by non-elected city employees and approved by the commission. They’re not laws but vision documents.

        While there is commentary about adding cycling infrastructure, it doesn’t say to remove traffic capacity to do so.

        When you speak of community involvement, it takes the form of the loudest activists getting an outsized voice. In this case the cyclists are very loud and active. Community involvement should be voting. Our elected officials should be able to assess the greater good rather than a narrow segment.

        1. The city’s Strategic Plan, updated every ten years, is not a vision document. It’s an adopted policy document. It sets a citizen-generated task list and every year, all city departments are required to set their budgets around those obligations.

    2. One of the best ways to decrease congestion is to provide people alternatives to automobiles. At present many people would like to ride bikes but find it too dangerous. If these new facilities persuade some drivers to leave their cars at home, congestion will noticeably decrease. And traffic for school pick up / drop-off is a huge contributor to congestion. Safe routes for kids could also dramatically decrease congestion. People are sometimes afraid of change, but these improvements will really help the city.

      1. Who is going to bike to downtown Decatur from South DeKalb, Stone Mountain, Chamblee or Dunwoody? They will be in motor vehicles.

        1. I bike to Decatur sometimes from Dunwoody, with an assist from MARTA. I ride my bike to Sandy Springs MARTA station, take train to Arts Center, and ride to Decatur from there via Piedmont Park, Beltline, Freedom Parkway PATH, all the linear parks, a dangerous mile on Ponce (there is no way to safely cross to the wide sidewalk on the other side of the street, and then cross back when needed), and then onto a nice bike lane in Decatur. I would definitely do this more often if I could cross Ponce more safely and if there were more bike infrastructure in downtown Decatur.

    3. visitors aren’t drawn to decatur because of it’s wide streets. the walkable and pedestrian friendly downtown district is the draw.

      1. A very big part of what draws visitors to Decatur are the various county offices. The more Decatur becomes “pedestrian and bicycle-friendly” the harder it is for residents from, for example, Lithonia or Dunwoody (both rather long walks or bike rides) to access county government, and the greater the justification for removing these offices to more accessible locations, taking the associated commerce with them.

  15. Yes, I’ll definitely use it.

    Also, fwiw. I’ve biked to the baby Kroger (from the south) via N. Candler. It is a pretty good way to go. Not a great solution going back south, but I then take Church, which isn’t too bad b/c cars are generally slow and respectful along that stretch (and elsewhere in Decatur).

    And $200K of City money is a bargain. Thank you DeKalb County.

  16. Yes, I’ll use this as often as possible! I’ve ridden thousands of miles a year commuting to work in 3 different cities and still go out of my way to take advantage of bike infrastructure such as cycle tracks. Hopefully these lanes will encourage people to ride, which is a healthy and fun way to move about Decatur.

  17. Is the strangulation of Church Street still part of the plan to increase automotive gridlock? We’ll need several more traffic lights to serve the backed up side streets near Glenlake Park

    I think this plan is based on overly-optimistic projections, tilted to the bike riders side. But I’ll bet they’re the ones that showed up for planning meetings.

    I wonder if we could get it paved with the same tacky designs used for the new cross walks?


    1. While it seems like a cool and funky idea to paint crosswalks in crazy unique designs, I feel like it is a safety hazard. I think that the crosswalks should be standard designs so that they are instantly recognizable.

      What if STOP signs all had unique font designs and shapes? They still read “STOP,” so they should work?

      1. Thanks for your comment. Have had the same reaction. Designs add a little visual interest for pedestrians but do next to nothing to alert drivers that they’re approaching a crosswalk. Only the knock over signs between the lanes do that.

        And why do the elevated crossings NOT have those white triangles (or arrowheads) on the sloping sides in the approach lanes to alert drivers to the bump in the road? Those triangles are on nearly every similarly styled speed hump I’ve seen in the city.

  18. Will definitely use it but wish there was a protected lane on both sides of the street rather than two-way on one side. Especially because it seems like there is space here.

    1. Agreed, the benefit is not just for cyclists. My family walks this part of Commerce pretty much every day. Right now it’s a little scary (especially with a toddler) and not terribly pleasant. This’ll go a long way to encourage more walking here.

    2. Well, in some of the drawings, I see people walking on part of the trail too. Isn’t the trail for walkers as well?

  19. This thing reminds me a bit of a home ice cream maker. It looks cool, it doesn’t cost much, everyone loves ice cream, and so you think, “of course I should get this!” So you do, use it a few times until the novelty wears off, then it sits untouched in the basement for years after you realize it’s pretty useless.

  20. In Decatur, I am a pedestrian, not a biker, so no (and I much, much prefer walking to biking).

  21. Probably, not. It is likely to be less safe and usable. The intersection at Commerce & Clairemont will be much more dangerous to bicyclists. In fact, all intersections are likely to be more dangerous & less usable. It is, unfortunately, really misguided. Sure, it sounds nice, but it is not really thinking of frequent, active riders. Most likely, it will drive bicyclists from Decatur. From what I have seen of previous designs, I remain opposed to these dangerous designs.

  22. It’s certainly eye catching and noticeable at the intersection, it would be hard for a driver to miss, harder than a normal/brick crosswalk anyways. Some will walk along side it slightly freer of tailpipe emissions. Or some parents may feel more comfortable letting little ones roll out and about with them where they didn’t before. In my mind it’s not about who will use it immediately, but getting everyone used to the option of using it. And once all of us are gone, we’ve helped forged a safer path and better habits for those behind us. Besides, if no one uses it, it can always be easily turned into a lovely 50 mph speed lane or a beautiful parking lot.

  23. The designs proposed will make it much more dangerous for cyclists, particularly at intersections. The protected lanes are not wide enough, offer no options to get to the sidewalk or street in an emergency~ & vice versa, decrease space for bicyclists who use the road, crowding cars & bicyclists closer together. Eliminating the bear right lane at Commerce eliminates the safe option for bicyclists, removing the ability to gather speed needed to get up the hill safely, forcing the bicyclist into the intersection in more direct contact with much larger cars, endangering body & life of the cyclist.

    The design is dangerous to cyclists, makes it harder for cars to drive properly & safely, encourages poor actions by pedestrians, endangering everyone, & gives the illusion that it is safe to be careless with toddlers in possibly dangerous situations.

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