Sunday, November 20, 2016

Get Involved in Dunwoody

The other day, I responded to a question on Next Door which basically asked about getting our Dunwoody Council members involved on that website / online message forum so as to be more engaged and responsive to the community. My reply was 180 of that, and instead focused on how we as individuals need to take personal responsibility to proactively get involved. The following was my response:

I strongly suggest first focusing on a personal responsibility level, starting with each individual. Be proactively engaged and show up to Dunwoody City meetings. Everybody has an excuse for not attending. I've heard it all. Don't be one of those single-issue NIMBY folks that only show up for one item, say some stuff, and then walk out & leave the council meeting as it's still in progress.

Our council works their BUTTS OFF making pennies on the dollar for us, attending late evening meetings (last Monday, they were in session from 6 to 11 pm), being responsive and accessible to our residents, and also (most) having full-time careers, families and other interests.

Sign up for official emails from the city's website. Sign up & follow Heneghan's blog. Follow the city on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Go to the monthly Dunwoody Homeowners Association meetings, generally the first Sunday of each month (& please consider being a paid member for $40 a year).

Each Friday before the city council meets (usually 2x/month), review the posted agenda as posted to the city's calendar.

Be in the "know". Don't just read what's published in The Crier or even the Dunwoody Reporter. If you do, you'll miss 75% of what's going on, and quite possibly the story will be biased or will leave out additional facts. --- The Crier editorials are quite a "show", of course and greatly exaggerate the views & opinions of our 45,000 residents. As it's a "free" paper, and the more letters that are published, the less the owner needs to pay for a journalist to write copy. --- . Show up, speak during public comments.

Attend the Town Halls (I went to two of them this year. I'm 54 years old and I definitely lower the average age of the attendance.).

Download & review our annual budget. --- Did you know not a SINGLE person spoke during public comments just a couple weeks ago when our 2017 annual budget was approved?

Bored? Submit an application to serve on a city board. And, personally FOLLOW up with the Mayor to make sure you will be considered. -- Send emails & make phone calls.

Submit feedback to ongoing plans. For example the PCID Overlay District, where we receive approximately 70% of our city funds.

Collaborate. Network. Those who show up get heard. I could go on & on.

I'll leave you with this: If anyone wants to start an informal "Coffee / Beer" social periodically to gather and discuss topics, I'd be all for that!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

No to 3rd lane - or Reversible -- on Mt. Vernon

An inviting & safe street for our community???
Anyone here in Dunwoody use "Next Door" for posting & responding to community topics? Someone has proposed adding a third lane on Mt. Vernon & making it "reversible" -- like on Roswell Rd / Hwy-9 in Roswell just north of the Chattahoochee river.

Feel free to chime in too at this link HERE

What people are not discussing are things like:

- Trip origins & destinations: Do we know where these people are coming from and headed to? How far are they going?

-- Single occupancy vehicles: How many of these vehicles only have one person in them?

-- Alternative mode: Is there ANY OTHER WAY they could move around other than in their motor vehicle? (Bicycle, or course. Maybe even walking) What prohibits them?

--Safety: Does a reversible lane increase or reduce safety for the users of our street, and does it take into consideration pedestrians, disabled, people on bicycles, elderly, and the residents that actually live on the street? What studies have been referenced that show reversible lanes are internationally-recognized best practices, are proven & safe? (They aren't safe at all!)

-- Cost: Where does the money come from if we were to do this? Acquire right of way -- most likely requiring eminent domain. Moving utilities, stormwater, etc., would run into many millions of dollars. Right now for repaving alone, cars only pay for roughly 18%. So that huge expansion would represent an even greater subsidy.

-- Livability: Does a third lane help our community maintain our "sense of place"? Does it help people who are merely just passing through to SLOW DOWN and drive the SPEED LIMIT? Do passersby sense that they have ARRIVED in a place where children, families and retirees are out & about, walking, biking, and safely enjoying our neighborhoods?

-- TWO HOURS A DAY, 5 days a week: That's 520 hours out of 8,760 in a year that traffic is backed up. For the other 8,240 the current street configuration is fine enough.

-- CAPACITY BUILDING: When you plan for cars & traffic, you get cars & traffic. Add capacity, and you simply get more traffic. In the long run, you will NEVER reduce traffic. We're going to selectively add some turn lanes at key intersections at Vermack / Manhasset and Tilly Mill.

Adding a reversible lane -- or even a continuous center turn lane -- will only make this street less safe. Go look at one in person and ask yourself if you'd like to live on a street with one. It ruins the residential feel of Dunwoody.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016



Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Misc Thoughts on Human-Scale Transportation Planning for Brookhaven

Yesterday 10/31/2016 I participated in a Walk Bike Thrive Workshop held at the Brookhaven City Hall by the Atlanta Regional Commission. It was very exciting and worthwhile and I greatly appreciated being invited. There is definitely some great momentum in Brookhaven in regards to acknowledging and prioritizing non-motorized ways for people to get about. Prior to attending, I wrote a quick list that would be appreciative of consideration in regards to holistic transportation planning.

Plan for People and Places, and that’s what you’ll get. Plan for cars and parking, and that’s what you’ll get. There cannot be disjointed and divergent planning between motorized & non-motorized transportation planning, zoning, funding and prioritization. And that is precisely what I experienced between the Ashford Dunwoody Corridor study open house held a few weeks ago, compared with the Bike/Ped/Trail plan, or yesterday’s workshop. After five minutes at the Ash-Dwy meeting, it seemed as if I was walked back into the 1960s in regards to being focused on moving cars as quickly through an area as possible.

A Real world example from yesterday:

I drove to the meeting yesterday. Due to voting and cars backed up, I drove around the backside of city hall into Town Brookhaven, got as close to the backside of the building and parked. I looked & looked for a place to walk directly across the 20 feet or so to get to the city hall parking lot and found myself looking up at a 6-foot chain linked fence. I could not see a direct entry, yet the distance was so close. I literally was just about to climb over the fence and was readying to do so, when fortunately the Brookhaven City Manager, Christian Sigman saw me, and guided me to a small undisclosed hidden opening in the fence.

This is the world that has been given to us due to the past generation of car-only planning, zoning, and land use regulations. This is the world that we must proactively work on each day to correct; to rebalance; to overcorrect; to take back to a human scale.

Brookhaven Transportation Thoughts

Leapfrog Complete Streets and move to Vision Zero. Zero deaths and minimal injuries for all uses of the street network. Checkout this video about Macon’s approach here.

Safety as the number one priority for ALL transportation planning & projects.

Slow & Calm Motorized Traffic

Trip Destination & Origins. Know where people are moving to & from. How are they moving? Incorporate into all plans.

Measure Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), not Level of Service (LOS). VMT should be provided with every new development. REDUCTION in VMT should be the city’s goal.

Every new study / plan / project: BEFORE the study is sought, have stakeholder input in the RFP to define the SCOPE, DELIVERABLES and GOALS of the consultant/company.

Holistic Transportation Planning as the movement of humans, regardless of mode. Integrate planning for all modes of travel, including motor vehicle, transit, bike/ped.

Remove parking minimums for developments. Either have maximums, or remove them completely. More from Strong Towns on the cost of free parking HERE.

New office developments – require paid parking

Remove Decel/Acel right turn lanes (etc.) requirements for new developments. All this does is increase travel speeds and make the streets more dangerous.

Reduce speed limits. Contact Decatur and follow their process. They added traffic calming measures, did a speed study & had GDOT approve speed limit reductions. (#2: Petition State Legislators to change the law / regulation / process to allow municipalities to reduce speed limits)

If traffic is moving faster than the posted speed limit, the street needs to be reengineered to slow traffic.

10-ft lane widths should be the maximum widths. Put into formal city documents for restriping. Lots of supporting guidelines.

Ashford Dunwoody Corridor Study: What happened here? Who defined the scope for the consultants? Very, very dangerous proposals greatly reducing safety of all users

        1.       Increases motor vehicle speeds
        2.       Increases motor vehicle throughput
        3.       Intersections treated like expressway on & off ramps (like at Peachtree). Greatly reducing the safety for pedestrians, disabled, bicycles, and motorists. Change the approach and design them at a HUMAN scale. Checkout some great examples here.
        4.       Montgomery Elementary & Safe Routes to School – Safety of children should have been the number one priority, instead of moving cars quicker
        5.       Faster speeds are worse for local businesses. Can’t see them
        6.       Level of Service. (LOS) Why is this even in the scope and why was this presented? If LOS was a true barometer, then the Champs de Elysee in Paris would FAIL.
Safe Routes to School – Put 25% FTE staff member for active PROGRAMMING on this for all K-12 schools. Walking & Riding bikes to school CAN be a daily occurrence, and not just a 1 or 2x/yr event.  ~18% more traffic when school is in session. This small cost will have significant ROI.