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.