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.


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
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
City of Atlanta Department of Planning & Community Development
Richard Mendoza
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.


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


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Qualifying for Dunwoody City Council Elections

Hi Friends,

Guess what!!!!

After a long & thoughtful consideration, I'm announcing that at 4 pm today I will

Joe Seconder kicks off the 2011 Dunwoody Candidate Forum on Sustainability

Sorry....April Fools. You've all seen how negative & caustic the past two election cycles have been in Dunwoody. Seems that to win in Dunwoody, you have to pretty much not have a history of doing much. Or better yet, be a complete unknown. Then, you have to go 100% negative against your opponent. Talk about conspiracies. The world will end if your opponent is elected. And then forget about targeting anyone under the age of 50 or so. Because they pretty much don't vote or come out unless there's talk about school redistricting.

If a dozen or more people decide to approach me and say they'll work 10 + hours a week for several weeks to make something happen, then that's a different story. I've seen good people out there work their butts off. But without a broad-based & engaged grassroots network of active supporters, winning a local election is hard work. And in running for public office with a on-line searchable history of involvement, your opponents will be quick to find whatever points they'd like and turn it against you.

Oh, just imagine the labels my opponents and our local crying publication would put upon me. I support:

-- Backyard Chickens

-- Vehicle Parking Standards that include accommodation for bicycles

-- Saving Trees throughout Dunwoody. Not just on city-owned land

-- Roundabouts- where they make sense. Like at Womack & Vermack. And Chamblee-Dunwoody & Peeler / North Peachtree

-- Letting kids or families play a pick-up game of softball on the fields at Dunwoody Park (A public park with near exclusive use by a private, pay-to-play baseball corporation used by very, very few Dunwoody kids)

-- An ACTIVE Parks & Recreation Department -- Actually offering PROGRAMMING to our citizens much the way it is in Brookhaven, Sandy Springs & Roswell. We offer ZERO programming today, and instead "outsource" it to the volunteer groups in town. More & more people in the younger generation is 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? Oh yeah I think there's TWO tennis courts over at the Windward Hollow park. For 47,000 residents to use. And no bathrooms there, either.

-- Parks Bond: Do you know how many times the city has held specific, dedicated meetings with the public since the bond referendum failed on the future of our parks? ZERO. That's right NADA. Totally missing the boat here. Once it failed, we needed to talk to the citizens, get feedback, adjust and then present the findings and then move forward with a revised plan.

-- Slow progression but YES -- to looking at a greenway along the Georgia Power line easement. My approach: Start at Austin Elementary School. Talk with the parents, faculty, church next door and residents along the existing path that runs perpendicular across the power lines today.  Work on getting a 1/2 mile trail along the powerline from Roberts drive to Bunky Way. So the kids can walk or ride to school. Once it's built, then just let it "simmer" for a while until the adjoining neighborhood is interested in connecting. And then progress. Little by little as the community asks for it.

-- Transportation: My #1 Priority would be SAFETY. Want to "fix" something? I want to know 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 will take place.

-- Chatcom / 911: I'm on record as opposing the original deal back in circa 2009/2010. At that time, it was an extra & unforcasted $900,000 annual expense. Costs continue to rise. Calls to the fire department are delayed. Is a million dollars a year necessary for an "extra" 60 seconds notification to the police?

-- Police SUVs, Equipment, Costs: I don't have enough time here. Need to break out these costs and have separate votes on them instead of incorporating into the whole annual city budget. I love our police and their community service & engagement, but seriously. The excuse they need SUVs is because they have so much equipment. Seriously? What they heck?

-- Outsource -vs- Contractors. Ok. So this year the finally took my advice (Yes, I'm on record in the past as recommending this) and brought in-house the key Director-level positions. So what about the rest? The companies we outsource with must make a profit on us. They hire full-time employees and "assign" them to work for our city, based upon the service level agreement(s). Guess what can happen to these contractors? They can leave in a day to something else. They serve two masters, or more. If their company's contract isn't renewed, the entire staff of the department can most likely leave and be replaced by a whole new set of people that don't have any history of our city, the people or the projects and our vision of a great place to work & live. Let's do further cost/benefit analysis and work towards the stabilization of our city staff, in creating greater predictability and dependability. We don't even have a publicly-available org chart that shows all of the employees & contractors within the city of Dunwoody.

-- Future Vision: Yes, we're in the tactical mode of "Police, Paving & Infrastructure". But heck, I want DIPLOMATIC LEADERSHIP of my elected officials that speak about the future vision, and set in place discernible steps to take us -- together -- collaboratively -- along this journey. Yes, we have to be "fiscally conservative". But without any RISK, there is no REWARD. And we must INVEST for our future.

Ok. So that's my rant for today. I could go on & on. If you want to know more about me, just do a google search for "Joe Seconder" or "Joe Seconder" &  Dunwoody

PS: YES - U better believe it that we'd become a certified BICYCLE FRIENDLY COMMUNITY if I were elected. As as a Council person, instead of being a Church Mouse and simply attending Council Meeting, perhaps asking a few questions & then voting on items presented to me, I'd be proactive. Collaborate and LEAD community efforts. Like a BFC recognition. Which isn't scary. Isn't bad. & Doesn't need lots of staff hours.

PPS: And we'd have a dedicated FARMERS MARKET, too.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Sunday Conversation with Joe Seconder

Hi Friends,

Most of my public-facing advocacy efforts over the past couple of years have been focused on Bike-Walk Dunwoody, hence not too many posts on this blog of late. Every so often, I'm honored to have some good press coverage. Heaven knows that in my own community of Dunwoody, we have our "regulars" that adamantly oppose trails, bike lanes and the like. They repeatedly get letters to the editor published in our local free newspaper. Heck, at the last city council session I attended, a woman spoke up during public comments and called me "Her opponent". The prior council session, as I was speaking during public comments, she called out from the back of the chambers and interrupted me... Geez -- we have differing opinions and I respect that. But please don't take things so personally, Myself and many, many others would like our city to install bike lanes along the major east-west street that she lives on, Tilly Mill. She does not. And in so doing, has labeled me as her opponent.

Feel free to checkout the below 3-minute video of the woman that lives in my hometown that does not want bike lanes on her street. She starts at minute 7:28. If you play the rest, you'll hear from nine other people that would like bike lanes and appreciate our city's continued investment in safe infrastructure for people to travel on foot or by bicycle.

Anyway, on Sunday, June 13th the Atlanta Journal Constitution published a short Q&A in their Metro Section about my efforts with bicycling advocacy and Georgia Bikes entitled, "Sunday Conversation with Joe Seconder". Special thanks to reporter Ann Hardie for covering this.

To read the on-line story, click here.

Just in case, here's the content of the article:

Sunday Conversation with Joe Seconder

About half the car trips we take are less than four miles from our home, says Joe Seconder, vice president of Georgia Bikes!, an advocacy group. If every now and then we grabbed a bike helmet instead of the keys, we would have less congestion on the roads and healthier kids and grownups. “I am never going to say, ‘Get cars off the road,’” says Seconder, a principal sales consultant with Oracle who lives in Dunwoody. “But at Georgia Bikes!, we want to give people a safe option.” The retired major in the U.S. Army Reserve talks about how the group’s efforts are helping frequent bicyclists like him and most of the rest of us who act like we’ve forgotten how to ride a bike.
Q: How long have you been a cyclist?
A: When my wife and I moved to Europe, I rediscovered the simple joy of riding a bicycle. I met other American ex-pat friends and we would ride on lovely trails. My wife and I even took a vacation on bikes in France. When we came back to Atlanta in 2007, I found local cycling clubs and I would get their maps. You could live in the same place for 10 years and never know about these back ways of getting around.

Sunday Conversation with Joe Seconder photo

Q: What is Georgia Bikes!?
A: Simply put, we work to make it safer for people of all ages and abilities to ride a bike. We think about how the state, regions and municipalities can set up policies and laws and invest to build connected networks such as protected bike lanes and trails that offer vulnerable users of the roads a safer place to travel.
Q: Why did you get involved with Georgia Bikes!?
A: I decided to become engaged and collaborate to help Georgia be a safer place to ride a bike. I am going to say this a little bit selfishly, but a lot of the work I am doing is for my wife. She is not comfortable riding on a road with no bike lanes or shoulders. We are currently experiencing change with many cities and counties – and the state Department of Transportation – providing safer engineering and complete streets that include bike accommodation.
Q: What has Georgia Bikes! accomplished?
A: We now get the funding through the sales of license tags that say, Share The Road. We have been able to hire our first ever full-time executive director to conduct outreach education around the state and talk to transportation planners, engineers and elected officials about how roads and networks can be redesigned to provide safe choices for people on bikes. A major milestone was passage of a 3-feet safe passing law, which requires cars to allow adequate space when passing a person riding a bicycle.
Q: What would you recommend for people just getting back on a bike?
A: Go to your locally owned bike shop. Make sure your bike fits you, works properly and that you have a helmet. Talk to them about where you can ride in the area. Find out if they offer introductory group bike riding or clinics. If you are closer to town, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition offers classes and will help people get back on the bike.
Q: Where are your favorite places to bike in Georgia?
A: I love to go riding in ‘the Gaps” in North Georgia, between Dahlonega and Helen. The mountains are beautiful, physical, challenging and very rewarding. My other shout out would be any of the PATH Foundation trails. The Arabia Mountain Trail is 22 winding miles through woods and lakes. I love riding right here in Dunwoody. It’s a sweet spot of riding conditions.


Monday, March 9, 2015

I would bike if I felt safer

The quote below is from a woman living in Dunwoody as a response to an editorial in one of our local weekly free newspapers. The Editorial basically said Dunwoody is not a destination city & the author hadn't seen any persons on bicycle or on foot on our new Dunwoody Village Parkway.

This was at least the fifth editorial in this free publication since January from individuals opposing sidewalks, trails or bike lanes.

Reading her response just made my day!

If you appreciate streets that are safely designed for all people, please thank the Dunwoody Mayor & City Council and sign this on-line petition, posted at this LINK.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Georgia Bikes: Vote for Bikes is a Vote for me!

Georgia Bikes, our statewide advocacy organization promoting bicycling is running a campaign called, "A Vote for Bikes is a Vote for me!". We're asking that a tiny portion go towards creating safe facilities for persons on foot or on bicycle.

Checkout their on-line petition at this LINK

And for some unexplained reason, I LOVE this photo: