The Georgia Department of Transportation is planning a final town hall meeting on the proposed re-striping of Peachtree Road – including the addition of bike lanes – on Thursday, Oct. 29, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Shepherd Center. If last night’s Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting is any indication, it will be a barn burner.
GDOT state traffic engineer Andrew Heath got an earful from a standing room only crowd of residents opposed to bike lanes on Peachtree Road. They encouraged the GDOT to come up with another alternative.
BCN President Tom Tidwell questioned whether the GDOT was “pandering to the bike lobby,” while other residents blamed the Buckhead Community Improvement District – and specifically its executive director Jim Durret – for pushing the bike lane option despite community opinion.
Heath said the GDOT looked at a number of plans and even built a computer simulator of Peachtree to monitor traffic flow before it arrived at the Peachtree Battle Hybrid Alternative. Under this plan, there would two traffic lanes north and south, a center turn lane and bike lanes on either side from I-85 to Peachtree Battle. Beyond that point, the road would shift to three southbound lanes, two northbound lanes and a center turn lane to Maple Drive.
Heath said traffic models showed removing the bike lanes at Peachtree Battle would help improve traffic flow wile giving cyclists access to the nearby Atlanta BeltLine trail. He said a similar “road diet” on Ponce de Leon Avenue had seen a 25 percent decrease in accidents in the past year. Heath said adding the turn lanes on Peachtree Road would decrease crashes by up to 20 percent.
Residents at the BCN meeting welcomed the turn lanes, but the conversation kept returning to the bike lanes. One resident said she was concerned about making right turns for fear she would hit a cyclist. “How many people check their right side mirror when making a right? Who has the right of way in that situation?”
“If there is a bike lane, then cyclists would have the right of way,” Heath responded to jeers and boos from the audience.
Another resident who lives in a Peachtree Road condo and who also described himself as a cyclist said he didn’t believe bike lanes were right for the corridor either. He suggested installing a center median and turn lanes rather than bike lanes.
Others said they were concerned about how narrow Peachtree is and the fact that there would be no dividers between the traffic and bike lanes.
District 8 City Councilmember Yolanda Adrean said she believed the GDOT needed to go back to the drawing board and find another solution, while At-Large Councilmember Mary Norwood said she believed there needed to be more focus on wider pedestrian sidewalks than bike lanes.
Another audience member called for a show of hands from residents in attendance who did not want bike lanes on Peachtree Road. The majority of the room raised their hands.
Heath encouraged the residents to attend the Oct. 29 town hall meeting and bring their concerns about the bike lanes.