Faced with thousands of comments, many negative, state transportation officials have officially abandoned plans to add bike lanes to a portion of Peachtree Road through Buckhead.
The Atlanta City Council and the state Department of Transportation praised the massive public input that caused GDOT to kill the bike lane plan.
In the Dec. 11 decision, GDOT said the hundreds of residents who attended meetings and gave thousands of comments were a “shining example” of public process, but also urged bike advocates to continue their work. The plan was heavily opposed by local residents, but became a hot spot of bicycle activism citywide.
GDOT said it received more than 2,000 comments about the project, with over 70 percent opposing the bike lanes. Among the opponents was the Buckhead Coalition, a group of business leaders.
“I believe GDOT has worked so hard and so earnestly to make everyone happy—naively. It’s probably the last time they will actually have a public hearing,” said Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook at a Dec. 15 meeting of the Buckhead Community Improvement District.
City Council on Dec. 16 approved a resolution, introduced by Shook and Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean, expressing appreciation to GDOT for “the depth of the engineering analysis provided and gratitude for its attentiveness to public input.”
The Peachtree Road project still will go forward with lane changes on the road between Deering and Pharr roads, a project slated to start in about a year. But GDOT gave up its effort to follow its “Complete Streets” policy, which involves designing roads to accommodate various modes of travel, including walking and bicycling.
“The goal has always been to seek the best project for the community and the users of the corridor,” GDOT Chief Engineer Meg Pirkle said in a press release. “While we believe in the merits of the project as proposed, we must also consider the needs of the community and recognize that every community has a say in what their transportation facility looks like. This project is a shining example of the process at work.”
“Although bike lanes will not be part of this project,” Pirkle went on to say in the press release, “we encourage our local partners to explore opportunities that reflect the recommendation in the Connect Atlanta Plan and the Cycle Atlanta Plan of providing bike facilities in the area.”
The current plan includes a dedicated left-turn lane at each intersection. From Deering to around Peachtree Battle Avenue, the plan calls for three lanes northbound, two lanes southbound, and a center turn lane. The section to Pharr calls for three lanes southbound, two lanes northbound, and a center turn lane.
The corridor carries 37,000 to 43,000 vehicles a day and has been the scene of more than 800 accidents in the past five years, GDOT said.