The Dunwoody City Council on Dec. 14 directed staff to come up with new design solutions for Tilly Mill Road.
The road has been a source of controversy between bicyclists and homeowners for months. Many City Council members say they favor complete streets, but they want to weigh carefully the desires of homeowners along Tilly Mill Road with those who would bike it.
One of the supporters for bike lanes along Tilly Mill Road, Charlie Bolocan, is a 13-year-old student who said he rides his bike to school every day. While he has ridden his bike on Tilly Mill Road, Bolocan said the cars go by quickly and he doesn’t have much room to maneuver.
“I have friends who refuse to bike down that road for that reason,” Bolocan said. “I thought the wider bike lanes — without the sharrows — would really be safer, which I think is your number one priority—to have people be safe on the road.”
Bob Dallas said cars ignoring speed limits between Cherring and Womack roads makes narrowing the lane advisable. “Wider lanes equal faster speeds” he said. “If you want to slow the speed down, narrow [the lanes]. Every study I’ve read suggest that.”
Dallas asked council to narrow the lanes, keep the center turn lane and help keep cyclists safe by giving them a dedicated bike lane where possible.
City Council asked staff to design sidewalks for one side of Tilly Mill Road, keeping a center turn lane and taking a hard look at putting in bike lanes along the entire segment, instead of only halfway. This would avoid painting bike sharrows, which are pavement markings, on the one half of the road.
Councilman Doug Thompson argued the sharrows are little more than “window dressing” and suggested drivers don’t slow down when they see “deer crossing” road signs so they aren’t likely to pay added attention to cyclists solely on the basis on new pavement markings.
Dallas said the sharrows mean bicycles will share the lane with automotive traffic, inevitably slowing it down, whereas a bike lane both cars and bikes travel at proper speeds and “there is not an impediment of the bicyclist on the motorist,” he said.
Drivers should remain aware of cyclists on all streets, regardless of whether or not a lane, marking or road sign exists, Thompson said.
Councilwoman Lynn Deutsch argued that bike lanes are “literally pushing civilization closer to [homeowners’] homes along Tilly Mill Road.
“As a complete street community the Dunwoody City Council attempts to correct all infrastructure needs be it roads, sidewalks, crosswalks and bike lanes when a major infrastructure component is being installed because attempting to retrofit these items after the fact is either impossible or unfeasible,” Councilman John Heneghan wrote in a blog Dec. 15.