Bike Law crew demands that Renew Atlanta actually RENEW Atlanta!
Bike Law Ambassador Niklas Volmer and Bike Law Georgia client Jordan Streiff have had enough of the City of Atlanta’s lip service and hypocrisy when it comes to building out meaningful bike infrastructure and decided it was time to do something about it.
For some context, the City of Atlanta has promised to invest $250,000,000 into the City’s infrastructure through the Renew Atlanta bond investment. Voters in the City of Atlanta overwhelmingly approved the bond in a 2015 election. In the 2016 election, voters approved a special tax that would generate approximately $300,000,000 over a 5 year period to fund transportation projects around the city
One of the projects that was approved initially by Renew Atlanta was the Dekalb Avenue Complete Streets project, which would revise this highly traveled corridor to make it safer for all users, particularly pedestrians and bicyclists, while also improving the flow of traffic by adding turn lanes and eliminating the reversible “suicide lane” in the middle of the road. For many years, Dekalb Avenue had been a race track that sped cars past light industrial and commercial spaces. However, with the success of the Atlanta Beltline, the area is in the heart of a development boom that has brought thousands of new residents to the vicinity of Dekalb Avenue. The need to make the archaic road design friendly for people who are outside their cars is overwhelming.
Renew Atlanta had preliminarily approved a Complete Streets design for Dekalb Avenue that would include, among other things, protected and dedicated bike lanes. However, the implementation was delayed and 3 years went by. At a meeting on April 10, 2019, however, Renew Atlanta announced that it was not going to install bike lanes, and would simply be repaving Dekalb Avenue.
At that point, Niklas and Jordan jumped into action. They had previously helped to organize a walking/biking protest along the busy commuter route a few weeks prior. But this time, they had a bigger vision, which was to have a completely legal bike ride at 8am on a Friday, with people riding lawfully 2 abreast on Dekalb Avenue, stopping at all red lights and stop signs. They spread the word through social media, and on a rainy Friday morning, more than 100 people showed up on their bikes to lend support to the effort. The results were spectacular and immediate.
The slow roll was a huge success and got a lot of attention. In fact, the same day, representatives from Renew Atlanta reached out to representatives from Atlanta Bicycle Coalition to see if some compromise plan could be proposed for Dekalb Avenue that would include tactically positioned bike lanes. While not truly a “Complete Street” design, bike lanes would be a huge help. More importantly, the fact that the City responded shows the power that we have a community to make meaningful change.
We shall see if the City implements the bike lane plan or not. After all, they have reneged on previous promises. However, the eyes of the community are keenly focused on the City, and we will not sit idly if there’s no action. If the City does not heed the will of the people, look for additional protests in the future, and significant voter turnout in the next election.