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Dear Decaturish – DeKalb Avenue improvements will make road safer

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Dear Decaturish – DeKalb Avenue improvements will make road safer

DeKalb Avenue. Source: Google Street View

DeKalb Avenue. Source: Google Street View

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Dear Decaturish,

DeKalb Ave connects Downtown Decatur to Downtown Atlanta, serving many Eastside neighborhoods. For much of its history it was lined with commercial and industrial zoning, but now has single family homes, multifamily home developments as well.

DeKalb Ave’s current situation is dangerous for all modes of transportation. The roadway is full of potholes, patches, etc. making driving and cycling a difficult. Drivers are constantly dodging potholes and left turning vehicles and that creates dangerous weaving. Cyclists are trying to dodge potholes and gapping catch basins all while vehicles pass them with less than the 3 feet of room required under Georgia Law(40-6-56). Sidewalks are narrow; provide no barrier (street trees) between pedestrians and vehicle traffic. All around traveling on DeKalb Ave is unpleasant. There is hope on the horizon. Under the ReNew Atlanta Bond (http://renewatlantabond.com/), passed by City of Atlanta voters in 2015, there is plan to upgrade DeKalb Ave to a Complete Street. This would “ensure streets are safe for people of all ages and abilities, balance the needs of different modes, and support local land uses, economies, cultures, and natural environments.

An article in Atlanta Bicycle Coalition mentions the Complete Street project would potentially remove the reversible “suicide” lane (a long overdue safety improvement) and replace it with turn lanes at key intersections, as well as repaving the street, and adding bike lanes or a multi-use path, and safer crossings. The city is even exploring the possibility to create a separate PATH along DeKalb, extending the current mutli-use path that ends at Rocky Ford Road, and connecting to the Atlanta BeltLine.

Upgrading DeKalb Ave to Complete Street should not be viewed as “taking away a vehicle lane for a bike lane” but instead improving safety for all.  The contraflow lanes are outdated and dangerous, as anyone who has driven the corridor knows. Providing safe and equal infrastructure for all modes of transportation will encourage more people to walk, bike, skate, etc. along this important transportation corridor.

For those who are interested in hearing more, there is a public meeting Thursday, November 17, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. at Liberty Baptist Church, 395 Chamberlain St SE, Atlanta, GA 30312. This location is conveniently accessible via MARTA (King Memorial Station), Atlanta Streetcar, bicycle, or car.

Hope to see you there,

Carl Holt, GISP

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