Sunday, June 19, 2016

ANOTHER New Bank in Dunwoody Village???





6/19/2016 - I've submitted the following as a Letter to the Editor of our local paper, the Dunwoody Crier:

We’re getting ANOTHER BANK in Dunwoody Village. How does this make you feel? Sun Trust bought the Old Hickory House on Chamblee-Dunwoody. For whatever reasons, the Texas-based restaurant chain that originally bought it well over a year ago pulled out (Word was they didn’t like the heavy restrictions required by our City which requires building everything to look like Colonial Jamestown – Why are we requiring this anyway? Talk about being business unfriendly).




To add insult to injury, they are asking for MORE parking via a Special Land Use Permit (SLUP) – which requires City Council approval. Are you kidding me? Practically every day of the year, you’ll already find a gazillion empty parking spaces in a sea of heat-generating asphalt surrounding the site. What about providing space for people, instead of cars? And as is embedded in our zoning (as defined by our elected City Council), there’s NOTHING we can do to prevent them from installing a drive-thru, either. (Our zoning needs to change so that ANY request for a drive-thru goes through the SLUP process. Think of the nearby Dunkin Donuts on Mt. Vernon & Chamblee Dunwoody. How’s that drive-thru working out on a busy morning?)

If our city council does not act, or a gracious Angel Investor appears, Sun Trust will be opening their SECOND location in the Village. We already have at least TWELVE banks in the Village.
Do you know what the real purpose of these brick & mortar banks actually serve? They operate at a LOSS to the corporation and simply act as billboards & advertising. I’ve only stepped in to a bank once in the past three years.

What can we do as citizens? Do you believe that our City Council acted properly when they bought the “PVC Farm” in Georgetown to prevent more new apartments from being built? Do you believe it’s prudent to have proper oversight to protect our community and neighborhoods? Do you believe that we citizens spoke loud & clear when offering input to the Dunwoody Village Master Plan; in that it should be a “human-based” area, with a “sense of place” for our community to come together; including public green spaces, small shops, walkable and great places to eat and meet your neighbors (think Canton Street in Roswell)? Do you believe that our City government is OF, BY and FOR the PEOPLE and is empowered to act proactively? Or, are you simply sick & tired of seeing all of these banks and know there’s a better alternative? If you say yes to these, then contact our Mayor, Denis Shortal and the City Council members and insist that they simply PURCHASE the land. E-mail: councilmembers@dunwoodyga.gov or call: 678-382-6700.

Once purchased, follow a much simpler model from the PVC Farm and sell it back to the private sector in a way that respects our residents and follows the spirit of the Dunwoody Village Master Plan. A vision that puts PEOPLE FIRST over drive-thrus or more car parking.

Sun Trust is holding a neighborhood meeting this Wednesday, 6/22 from 6-8 pm at 5486 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd, Suite 8. Show up and speak out.


PS: Shout out to Gary Ray Betz aka “Copperhead Hunter”. Where’ve you been? Missed hearing from you and reading your eloquent prose! Love your You Tube videos, especially your "A Cure for Dementia" using snake venom and am anxiously waiting to purchase one of your coveted T-Shirts. Pray tell how we can buy one?

Sincerely,

Joe Seconder

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Dunwoody: Adopt Vision Zero - No deaths on our streets



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Editor's Note: I've added a link at the bottom of this post to an Op/Ed written by Dunwoody's own, Bob Dallas on this subject. It was published by the Atlanta Journal Constitution last November.
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Last week, a tragic event unfolded when a 14 year old girl riding her bicycle from school was killed in a crash by a motor vehicle in Atlanta. She was crossing the intersection of Monroe at 10th street, where there is a transition from a 2-way on-street cycle track, to a “pedestrian” crossing, to the Beltline (14-ft wide multi-use trail).  

Watch this powerful TV interview with Rebecca Serna, the Executive Director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition:



As a result, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition is asking for immediate safety changes to the intersection design. See post with details, click HERE

In Dunwoody, let’s adopt a Vision Zero policy and put the safety of the most vulnerable users as the number one criteria for our streets and public passage ways.

In light of this tragedy, we need to insure that internationally-recognized best practices and engineering features are being planned across our city. And all the more important & timely is for the intersection of North Shallowford & Dunwoody Park / Lake Ridge Lane (apartment complex entrance). This is where the Dunwoody Trailway will cross, connecting Brook Run to Chamblee-Dunwoody.

The trail is expected to be open and completed within the next 60 days. PRIOR to it's opening, we must create a safer way for people to cross.




How will persons traveling on the trail cross the intersection? As a default, will they have to cross twice? From west to east for example, they would: 1) Push the ped crossing signal; 2) Cross North Shallowford; 3) Stop & push the signal to cross Lake Ridge Lane. 4) When activated, cross onto the trail.

There are many inherent dangers with this “default” / “as is” design once the trail is open. As more & more casual persons use this facility, the greater the risk of these persons being in a crash with a car making right or left hand-turns. Or going through a red.

*** STOP THE PRESS: 2/17/2016 UPDATE ***


Great news!! Dunwoody Public Works sent me the detailed project design documents. In it, a...

Pedestrian scramble phase (Diagonal Crossing) has been incorporated into the design of the trail at this intersection!! 



Hooray!!




So the rest of the below post is for your reference....

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Starting with the adage, “I am not an engineer”, I would like to suggest consideration of the following:

    1.  Exclusive Pedestrian Phase

Provides a separate phase of the traffic signal where all vehicle lights turn to red and the “white walking man” comes on allowing pedestrians to cross the street without vehicle traffic movement.

    2.  Pedestrian Scramble

    Scramble: “X” Crossing markings indicating pedestrians may walk diagonally across the intersection during exclusive pedestrian crossing phase

Chicago: State Street and Jackson Boulevard.

3.  No Turn on Red

Too many motorists roll through red lights when making right-hand turns.

     4.  Shorter cycle length


     5.  Automatic sensors built into the trail approach to trip the signal to pedestrian crossing


     6.  Additional lighting


     7.  Traffic calming on North Shallowford

        a.       If no Pedestrian Scramble, then Pedestrian Crossing island built of concrete on the north side of the intersection.
        b.      Curb bulb outs
        c.       Raised intersection



     8.  Additional Signage such as State Law / Stop for Pedestrians


My ask for my readers:

If you are concerned about the safety of this trail crossing intersection and want to see safety improvements, and/or would simply like Dunwoody to formally adopt a Vision Zero plan and implement it, please send a note to:

Mayor & Council: CouncilMembers@DunwoodyGa.gov
Public Works: public.works@dunwoodyga.gov

And sign our on-line petition supporting Complete Streets. Click HERE


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BONUS: Safer pedestrians make safer roads

Op/Ed by Dunwoody resident Bob Dallas

Former director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, serves on the MARTA board and as chairman of PEDS, an Atlanta-based pedestrian advocacy group.


As we read about lives cut short due to traffic crashes, we generally attribute the loss to a mistake; yet no driver, pedestrian, or cyclist intends harm on our roadways. While all roadway users are responsible for their actions, all users are human and all humans make mistakes.

For the full article click HERE

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References












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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Feedback for 1/21/2016 Dunwoody Town Hall


Here’s what I posted to offer as items of discussion for the Dunwoody Town Hall meeting scheduled for the evening of 1/21/2016.
Town Hall Information is posted here: http://dunwoodynorth.blogspot.com/2...

1. PARKS

Offer & fund an ACTIVE Parks & Recreation Department -- Actually offering PROGRAMMING to our citizens much the way it is in Brookhaven, Sandy Springs & Roswell. Presently, Dunwoody offers ZERO programming, and instead "outsources" it to the volunteer groups in town. More & more couples in the younger generation are both working full-time jobs, with business travel and family obligations. What if they simply want to come back to Dunwoody and experience and partake in a program that is offered by the city? Sorry. You have to pay to play here. Want to swim? Pay a private club. Tennis? There's TWO tennis courts at the Windward Hollow park. For 47,000 residents to use. And no bathrooms there, either. And some of our working-class families simply cannot afford club memberships.

2. Transportation:

a. The number one priority needs to be SAFETY -vs- straightforward repaving. Want to "fix" something? Show where it lies with safety metrics. How many collisions have there been? How many injuries? Does this help people walk or ride a bike a couple of miles safely, instead of HAVING to drive in a car? Do we employ best-practices engineering for traffic calming measures, designing our streets so that motor vehicles actually drive at or BELOW the posted speed limits at all times? Or, does simply this increase motor vehicle throughput? We definitely need mid-block pedestrian crossing islands along our major roads to slow traffic, and increase safety for pedestrians. We've spent tens of thousands of dollars on two separate "laser truck" analyses for pavement conditions. Based on that, a worst-is-first paving plan is made. I propose making a worst-is-first project list with funding based on SAFETY. Yes, eventually your street will be repaved. But first, we need SAFE places to move about in our city. Of course patching and filling potholes needs to take place.
b. Look at ways to reduce cars on our streets, instead of ways to move them through our city faster. Spending almost $5M on the Tilly Mill / North Peachtree / Peeler intersection may help in the mid-term. But instead of spending $4M for that single project, imagine spending $50-$100k/year on staffing to start programs to reduce car driving. Examples include: Reducing GA Perimeter College student traffic (e.g.; pay for parking, establish a shuttle bus from the North Atlanta Baptist church parking lot), reducing parents voluntarily driving their kids to school (work with DeKalb County Schools on restructuring the bus schedules, adopt & encourage an active "Safe Routes to School" program for kids to safely walk or ride their bikes to school on a daily basis), Establish a public circulator bus system in the Perimeter business district (PCID). Presently, individual businesses and properties offer their own private shuttle buses. Adopt paid parking in the PCID area for single occupant drivers, or free if they carpool or ride share.
c. Inform the public where the funds come from to pave our roads, and ask them if this is an appropriate funding level. In the 2014 budget, we spent $4,085,000 on paving our streets. Motor vehicle taxes & fees accounted for $728k, or 18 percent of the total paving budget. The remaining $3,357,000 – or 82% of the remaining funds came from HOST and general funds. That $3.3M represents the subsidized amount we are reallocating, which could POSSIBLY be used to invest in safety projects, parks and such. In contrast, the 13 square miles of Dunwoody spends more on paving than Douglas County with 200 square miles.

3. Dunwoody Park Ballfields

Open up to the general public the ballfields at Dunwoody Park. Presently this public parkland is managed by a private pay-to-play organization called "Dunwoody Seniors". They even have reserved parking spaces designated. Allow kids or families play a pick-up game of softball on a "first come, first served" basis. Further, conduct an evaluation of the use of the fields by Dunwoody residents. What percentage of the users live in Dunwoody? If we had to start from scratch with a master parks plan, would it include these pay-to-play organizations being subsidized with public funds?

4. Non-Profit to Support our Parks

Establish a legitimate 501c(3) non-profit "Friends of Dunwoody Parks" (etc.). Use this non-profit to be able to seek out private donations, grants, etc. Donations in kind or cash, etc. for park amenities through this non-profit would then be a tax deduction for donors. Get some type of formal city-recognized partnership & understanding with this non-profit so that when they (for example) install a new swing set in a park, it won't be ripped out in a year because it wasn't in the city plan.

5. Invest in Trails

Continue to invest in building out a connected multi-use trail / greenway system. Trails are responsible for a 4 to 7 percent increase in property value for homes within one-quarter mile.

6. Outreach to Millennials

Outreach to Millennials in city planning. By 2020, nearly half (46 percent) of all U.S. workers will be Millennials. What is the city proactively doing to reach out to this population segment to encourage and support Dunwoody as a great place to work, live and play over the next 10-30 years?

7. Affordable Housing

Adopt Affordable Housing component for new residential developments. To ease traffic woes, employees need the option of living close to their work. Including entry-level workers. How many of the Dunwoody Police force or other employees live within our city limits? Adopt incentives for city employees to live in Dunwoody.

8. Dunwoody Village

Build out the Dunwoody Village Master Plan and make it the true “center” of our city with a public green, and live-work-play destination to compete with Roswell’s Canton Street. Create incentives as necessary.

9. Re-Write Dunwoody Village Overlay District Laws

Re-write the Dunwoody Village Overlay District ordinances. It has never been adjusted to reflect the possibility of humans living in the district. Adopt mixed use ordinances that allow for retail, commercial and residential to be used on the same property lot based on free market demand. Present limitations include: no patio/porch facing the building fronts (along Dunwoody Village Parkway) and flat rooftops (which would allow for rooftop garden patios).

10. Eliminate minimum car parking requirements

Eliminate minimum car parking requirements for developments. Instead, place a maximum on them. There are dozens & dozens of extra acres of paved asphalt in our city that can be repurposed for human-use, creating public greenspaces, parks or live-work-play mixed use. This increases the ROI on a per-acre basis adding additional revenue to the city’s coffers.

11. City Council needs to vote on all new development plans

Add Council vote of development plans, avoiding a repeat of the outcome of the 32-acre Vermack “Desert” development. That land was zoned R-100, was sold to a developer and staff internally approved the development. City Council did not get a chance to review or vote on it, as there were no variances. What happened? Not a single square inch of public space was carved out for that neighborhood of 50+ homes. There is no community green, park or any place for the local residents to congregate. It is a dead-end cul-de-sac neighborhood, putting all of its traffic out onto Vermack. Today’s livable, walkable communities are built on a grid network offering a “sense of place” and options for humans to be able to get out of their cars to be together.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Peachtree Road Transformation Project (Must include Bike Lanes)

Hi All,

For posterity's sake, the following is the letter I sent to the Georgia Department of Transportation yesterday (11/16/2015) in regards to the Peachtree Road Transformation Project in Buckhead. For some project background, head to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition's page HERE.


via GIPHY

Photo Credit: Atlanta Bicycle Coalition




Mr. Joe Seconder
Atlanta, Georgia 30338

Date: November 16, 2015

Subject:                 Peachtree Road Transformation Project (Must include Bike Lanes)
To:                          Georgia Department of Transportation peachtreeproject@dot.ga.gov
cc:
Stacey Key
State Transportation Board Member, Congressional District 5
Russell McMurry
Commissioner, GDOT
Mike Dover
Deputy Commissioner, GDOT
Meg Pirkle
Chief Engineer, GDOT
Hiral Patel, P.E.
State Environmental Administrator
Andrew Heath, P.E.
State Traffic Engineer
Katelyn Digioia
Bike & Pedestrian Coordinator, GDOT

Mary Norwood
Atlanta City Council (At large)
Howard Shook
Atlanta City Council (District 7)
Yolanda Adrean
Atlanta City Council (District 8)
Alex Wan
Atlanta City Council (District 6)
Ceasar Mitchell
Atlanta City Council President

Tim Keane
Commissioner
City of Atlanta Department of Planning & Community Development
Richard Mendoza
Commissioner
City of Atlanta Department of Public Works
Beth Beskin
Georgia State Representative, District 54

Hunter Hill
Georgia State Senator, District 6
Jim Durrett
Executive Director
Buckhead CID
Brian McHugh
Director of Transportation and Planning
Buckhead CID




I fully support Bike Lanes for the entire project length for the Peachtree Road project. Less than full bike lanes is a less safe option. The safety of our citizens must be the number one criteria for what we do and how we leave this world to our next generation.

A woman in her late 50’s outside the GDOT Public Information Open House at the Shepherd Center on October 29th approached me as I was about to walk into the meeting. I’m 53 years old, wear glasses, am balding and was wearing nice dress slacks, dress shirt & a sports jacket. For some reason she thought I was against the bike lanes. After an initial discussion and me trying to provide my reasons and examples to support bike lanes, she physically grabbed my arm, held it with a good force, stared me in the eyes with a passion like no other and asked, “Who is paying you for this?” I’m not kidding. There were so many people there at the 5 pm timeframe that were in near-hysteria and all worked up. They’ve been fed misinformation for well over a year and believe their very way of life is being challenged. And if bike lanes appear, their world will come to an end. They have a gazillion reasons against the bike lanes. But NONE of them hold up against best practices using AASHTO & NACTO standards, design guidelines and examples both nearby and throughout the United States. Peachtree Road is not “different” to preclude it from design standards and engineering.

Simply put, there was none of this level of opposition when Ponce de Leon was reconfigured. GDOT moved forward with the plan as designed by professional engineers. And look at how efficient and SAFER it is today for ALL modes of transportation.

Make Peachtree Road a Complete Street and safe for ALL users. Adopt GDOT's plan for center turn lanes to help make it safer. Doing this leaves a few feet to add bike lanes, helping connect to the Atlanta BeltLine and creating a bike connection between Midtown, Buckhead to Brookhaven.

The locally-approved Connect Atlanta Transportation plan designates bike lanes from Collier Road to GA-400. Currently the bike lane is planned for Deering to Peachtree Battle, where they would end. The bike lane needs to continue the full length of the project, and connect to the existing bike lane, which starts farther north at Pharr Road.

Also I’m asking for:


1.       Bike Lane widths should be increased to 5 feet to meet City of Atlanta standards. Reduce motor vehicle lane widths to 10 feet for all, including the center turn lane, to accommodate a 5-ft bike lane, or a 4-ft bike lane with a 1-ft buffer.
2.       Mid-block raised pedestrian crossing islands installed at natural breaking points in the center turn lane. Will assist in traffic calming and greatly aid in persons on foot attempting to walk across the street.
3.       Pavement Reflectors, “armadillos” or other markings spaced every 30-50 feet or so along the lane stripe that separates the bike lane and the motor vehicle traffic. This will aid with the separation and increase safety for all users.
4.       At any transition points where the Bike Lane may end, install Bicycle May Use Full Lane sign per MUTCD guidance and Sharrows. Reference HERE.

Supporting Reasons for Bike Lanes on the FULL length of the project:


    GDOT’s Complete Streets Policy dictates it. It meets virtually ALL of the Bicycle Warrants (except for a new bridge) per GDOT’s Design Policy Manual Chapter 9, section 9.4.2. (Reference HERE):

Standards – Bicycle accommodations shall be considered in all planning studies and be included in all reconstruction, new construction, and capacity-adding projects that are located in areas with any of the following conditions:

 if the project is on a designated (i.e., adopted) U.S., State, regional, or local bicycle route;
 where there is an existing bikeway along or linking to the end of the project corridor (e.g., shared lane, paved shoulder, bike lane, bike boulevard, or shared-use path);
 along corridors with bicycle travel generators and destinations (i.e. residential neighborhoods, commercial centers, schools, colleges, scenic byways, public parks, transit stops/stations, etc.);
 on projects where a bridge deck is being replaced or rehabilitated and the existing bridge width allows for the addition of a bikeway without eliminating (or precluding) needed pedestrian accommodations – reference Title 23 United States Code, Chapter 2, Section 217, Part (e); and
 where there is an occurrence of reported bicycle crashes which equals or exceeds a rate of five for a 1-mile segment of roadway, over the most recent three years for which crash data is available.

Guidelines – Bicycle accommodations should be considered on projects that are located in areas with any of the following conditions:
 within close proximity (i.e., 3 miles) of a school, college, university, or major public institution (e.g., hospital, major park, etc.);
 where a project will provide connectivity between two or more existing bikeways or connects to an existing bikeway;
 where there is an occurrence of bicycle crashes;
 along a corridor where bicycle travel generators and destinations can be expected prior to the design year of the project;
 any location where engineering judgment, planning analysis, or the public involvement process indicates a need.

   Practically the ENTIRE project footprint from Collier to GA-400 on Peachtree Road is identified for Bike Lanes in the locally-approved City of Atlanta’s “Connect Atlanta” Transportation plan:

Reference click HERE

   The SAFEST choice per GDOT engineered alternatives. Peachtree Road has more crashes than other state routes. The proposed configuration – including bike lanes along the ENTIRE project, will be the SAFEST.

Proven to work on Ponce de Leon with similar facilities before & after design.

   Supports the United States Department of Transportation Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations:

“The DOT policy is to incorporate safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities into transportation projects. Every transportation agency, including DOT, has the responsibility to improve conditions and opportunities for walking and bicycling and to integrate walking and bicycling into their transportation systems. Because of the numerous individual and community benefits that walking and bicycling provide – including health, safety, environmental, transportation, and quality of life – transportation agencies are encouraged to go beyond minimum standards to provide safe and convenient facilities for these modes.”
Reference click HERE

   Equitable for those individuals who do not own a car and use a bicycle for their primary means of transportation.

   Supports aging in place and increased mobility options for those who can no longer drive a motor vehicle. Bike lanes add safety for pedestrians, as well as persons on bicycle.

   Retail businesses experience higher sales after bike lanes are installed. Reference click HERE.

   Healthier people, employees, citizens. Getting exercise or for transportation. Reduces healthcare costs to society and employers.

   Reduces CO2 and particulate emissions, helping Atlantans to simply breathe better.

   Narrower traffic lane widths of 10-ft calm traffic and increase safety for drivers, pedestrians and persons on bicycles. NACTO reference HERE.

  Checkout former US Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood’s personal video to Georgians in 2010 where he declares unequivocal support for accommodation for humans on foot and on bicycle in transportation projects – including bike lanes, such as this:





Implementation Approach – Temporary Paint with a trial period


Many of the local residents have expressed fear of any change to Peachtree Road the way it currently is. Further, over the past two years, this simple repaving project has turned into a “war on cars” and has been labeled as a bike lane project. Help to dispel this by proposing a trial period using temporary paint.

Temporary Paint and barrel markers: After paving, lanes are always marked initially in temporary paint until the asphalt is sealed & cured. With this temporary paint, mark the ENTIRE corridor with BIKE LANES and the TWLTL, etc. Use construction barrels of pylons to highlight the new configurations. Keep this configuration for a sample duration of two or more months.

For the first week of the project, hire road flag wavers spaced every ½ a mile during the morning & afternoon rush hours. They will help the drivers become accustomed to the new configuration.

Put up electronic construction signs at critical intersections over the project length signaling to drivers the new configuration.

Atlanta City Police Bicycle Squad – Have these persons out riding up & down Peachtree Road during rush hours assisting traffic.

Take before & after measurements of accidents and motor vehicle ADT / traffic counts. If there are more crashes and less traffic, then propose restriping to the plan “B”. After the period has finished, paint with permanent paint. IF – for some reason there are NO BIKE LANES on any of this project segment, then add SHARROWS and add “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signage along those segments.

If you need advice with this Tactical Urbanism approach, please contact Dunwoody’s Director of Public Works, Michael Smith. His department led a successful approach to a street in the Perimeter Business District in 2014. After paving, they used construction barrels for a trial period. The project was a success and now is a complete street. See photos & the background on this Facebook post:



Welcome to Georgia's newest Complete Street!! Perimeter Center Place in Dunwoody, in the heart of the Perimeter Business...
Posted by Bike Walk Dunwoody on Wednesday, November 12, 2014



I sincerely thank you in advance for choosing the SAFEST design; a Complete Streets design; and one that accommodates people in all modes of transportation – with BIKE LANES.

Regards,


Joe Seconder
Retired Major, Infantry & Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran
US Army Reserve

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