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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