By Collin Kelley
Editor

If you haven’t noticed, biking in Atlanta is on the rise. There are more people using bicycles for transportation and leisure than ever before. The cities of Atlanta and Decatur are working to make sure biking is safer, sustainable and accessible to all.

In Atlanta last month, the City Council, Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, Midtown Alliance and the Georgia Institute of Technology announced three new initiatives to boost rider safety, sustainability and access.

Visible proof of this can be found at Tech Square near the intersection of 5th and West Peachtree streets at Georgia Tech’s Ernest Scheller Jr. College of Business. Alterations to the intersection have resulted in the city’s first raised bicycle track, green bicycle lane, two-stage left-turn box and bicycle signal at the intersection. These alterations will enable cyclists to safely cross a busy intersection and be guided by a dedicated bicycle lane and traffic signal.

As part of a planning effort between the city and Georgia Tech, a new smartphone app for the iPhone and Android called Cycle Atlanta is available for download and designed specifically for bikers to provide direct feedback to the city.

“We want to know what bicyclists consider to be barriers and obstacles to riding,” said Commissioner James Shelby of the Department of Planning and Community Development. “This new app will give us good information and greater insight about areas that need improvement like the one here at Tech Square.”

Over the next three years, the Atlanta plans to construct 34 miles of bicycle routes, paths and other facilities:

  • New lanes along Auburn Avenue and Edgewood Avenue linking the Old Fourth Ward to Georgia State University.
  • A protected one-way cycle track along Juniper Street connecting Piedmont Park to Downtown.
  • Buffered bicycle lanes along Ponce de Leon Avenue providing a direct link from the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail and Ponce City Market to Midtown.
  • Two-way cycle track between Centennial Olympic Park and Freedom Park.
  • Bicycle lanes and cycle track connection between Brownwood Park and Grant Park.
  • Direct connection between the Atlanta University Center, Castleberry Hill and Downtown.

City planners are also working toward doubling the rate of bicycle commuting by city residents from 1.1 percent to 2.2 percent by 2016.

In Decatur, the city was recently honored by the League of American Bicyclists for its efforts to improve cycling. Decatur was named a bronze Bicycle Friendly Communities for its additional bike lanes and pedestrian friendly areas.

Decatur was also lauded for having bicycling education at more than 90 percent of its elementary and middle schools.
The city also worked in partnership with Bike Decatur to create a bicycle suitability map. The map identifies roadways using three bicycle difficulty rankings with the intention of assisting cyclists in choosing suitable routes to destinations. The map features a main city map along with a downtown inset. The intention is to help cyclists of all levels bicycle to school, work, errands and recreation activities. You can download a map at decaturga.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.