Two years ago, the city of Brookhaven approved a bicycle, pedestrian and trail plan that promised to eventually provide safe ways for people to get around the city without getting into a car.
With that plan in mind, local bicycle advocates have organized to create the Brookhaven Bike Alliance, an organization that is working to educate residents about bicycle safety and holding community bike rides. Members also are lobbying their elected officials at town halls and City Council meetings asking them to start funding that plan in next year’s budget.
“Right now, we are definitely not a bike-friendly city, but we want to get there,” said Marjon Manitius, a member of the Alliance’s steering committee and resident of Brookhaven Fields. “And we want to help the city prioritize where to spend the money.”
The city paid Pond and Associates $96,000 in 2015 to create the bike-ped plan with community input. As part of that process the company split the projects up into three phases: short-term (possible to implement in five to 10 years), mid-term (10 to 20 years) and long-term (more than 20 years).
The plan was then approved in 2016 and, if fully implemented, would include 20.4 miles of new “sharrows,” or shared lane markings; 6.9 miles of new bicycle lanes or cycle tracks; 31.3 miles of new sidewalks; and 38.7 miles of new multiuse trails.
Total cost of the plan at the time was a whopping $66.4 million, but the consultants and council agreed that phasing the projects out over time would be the best way to fund them.
Just the short-term phase, however, would cost about $9.2 million in 2015 numbers, according to the plan. Other figures were $25.2 million for the mid-term phase and $32 million for the long-term phase, again with old figures.
Manitius said the Bike Alliance has identified $12 million in projects that can be done in the next five years.
“This year the budget included $300,000 for sidewalk projects, but zero money for bicycling specific projects,” she said.
“The bike-ped plan clearly shows us where the needs are and how to get the best bang for the buck,” she said. “We have a plan, but we need to fund it.”
The city is implementing easy parts of the plan already. When it repaves a road on the bike-ped plan, such as Osborne Road this year, bike lanes are painted as part of that project.
On other paving projects, Manitius said the Alliance is asking the Public Works Department to direct contractors to narrow the automobile lanes to 10 feet to leave space on the shoulder of the road between the white line and the curb.
“While this may not meet the technical definition of a bike lane, it is free and is a huge improvement for bicyclists,” she said.
The Brookhaven Bike Alliance has also identified eight specific projects from the bike-ped plan and has put out a public survey on its Facebook page, asking respondents to select the top three they would like to see done next year. The Bike Alliance would then present the top three vote-getters to the council and ask for funding.
Top projects are:
- Dresden Drive: Complete bike lanes and/or multiuse path from Peachtree Road to eastern city limit.
- Briarwood Road: Bike lanes from North Druid Hills to I-85 Frontage Road (connection to Peachtree Creek Greenway).
- Candler Lake Road: Connect north ends of Candler Lake Road to make complete bike loop around Murphey Candler Lake.
- Lenox Park Boulevard: Road diet (lane reduction) with buffered bike lanes.
- Lynwood Park/Osborne Road: Connect Lynwood Park to Millcreek, Warrenhall and possibly Breton Court with a new multiuse path.
- West Nancy Creek Drive: Widen multiuse path between Ashford-Dunwoody and Candler Lake roads.
- Skyland Drive: Buffered bike lanes to connect new John Lewis Elementary to surrounding neighborhoods.
- Caldwell Road: Extend bike lanes entire length to Dresden Drive.
“The City Council has been very positive, but they need help on where to focus,” Manitius said.
The Brookhaven Bike Alliance is not all business. Last month, the alliance held its third community bike ride at the Briarwood Park and Recreation Center with more than 50 people participating.
Manitius said the alliance partnered with the Georgia Hispanic Construction Association, the Latin American Association, Safe Kids DeKalb, Georgia Commute Schools and Safe Routes to School. Through those partners, 14 bikes and helmets were donated to underserved youth, she said.
The next ride is Father’s Day, June 17, 1 p.m., at the Ashford Park playground, 2980 Redding Road NE.
The rides are easy 1-mile and 3-mile loop rides that are safe for children. The rides begin with some basic safety lessons and tune-ups.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the location of the June 17 community bike ride. It is at Ashford Park, 2980 Redding Road NE. Cyclists will meet at the playground.