Atlanta Erases Major New Bike Lane Segment, Replaces It With Parking

This bike lane on Atlanta's Westview Drive was quietly removed and replaced with parking. Photo: ThreadATL
This bike lane on Atlanta's Westview Drive was quietly removed and replaced with parking. Photo: ThreadATL

After a city installs a bike lane, there’s typically some pushback for a while from people who object to the change. What’s unusual is when a city loses its nerve and decides to remove the bike lane. But that’s what Atlanta has done on a 1,000-foot stretch of Westview Drive. The effect extends beyond the 1,000 feet that were erased — the whole bike lane corridor now has a significant gap.

The two-way bike lane was built with support from retailer REI and the national non-profit People for Bikes. Atlanta advocates were taken by surprise when the city abruptly replaced the bike lane with a parking lane last week, reports Darin Givens at ThreadATL, despite documented safety improvements:

Data from the City of Atlanta shows that in the past year that the bike lane existed, crashes (car, bike, pedestrian) decreased 38%! Even more compelling, crashes that caused serious injuries fell 68%! Local residents were safer because of the project.

The city had previously removed some plastic posts separating the bike lane from traffic, in response to nearby Shiloh Baptist Church, and allowed parking on Sundays and during church events.

That interrupted the bikeway at some times, but now this stretch is completely gone. A church spokesperson denied that it asked for the removal of the bike lane. Though the city is supposed to enact an ordinance if it erases a bike lane, that didn’t happen in this case.

Givens writes that people deserve answers:

What are we saying to the residents who participated in the planning of this bike lane and others when we undo those plans? What are we saying to all Atlantans when our government doesn’t follow its own rules?

More recommended reading today: Urban Milwaukee highlights the city’s impressive and varied collection of parklets. And Greater Greater Washington documents the precipitous decline of affordable housing in transit-accessible Alexandria, Virginia, over the last 17 years.

  • Vooch

    We should recognize certain jurisdictions will cling to the past longer than others.

    A decade from now, they will wonder why no one want to live there.

    supporting mass motoring today is a prescription for economic doom.

  • John Riecke

    I hope PfB demanded reimbursement for the time and money they spent on the project.

  • Southeasterner

    If Jesus were alive today he would most certainly drive an SUV to church. I believe he was a big advocate for environmental destruction and social inequality…or am I just getting him confused with his followers?

  • Baloo Uriza

    Putting a bicycle lane in one direction between two lanes of oncoming traffic? That’s worse than no bike lane.

  • Edward

    It’s not between the two lanes. You are looking at the buffer, not the path. Here is a better view:
    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Shiloh+Missionary+Baptist+Church,+1150+Westview+Dr+SW+%23+306,+Atlanta,+GA+30310/@33.7472285,-84.4252202,3a,66.8y,270h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1s-uDRBdGdCdtA0TdvVQfvxQ!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x88f5034363ab886b:0xd7d18dd1b9a21e13

    I hope streetview works. Otherwise look for Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church Atlanta GA and zoom into street view.

  • Cyclist’s Rights

    That’s still worse than no bike lane. Two way “cycletracks” increase conflicts. Sucks the Jesus freaks got their way and are allowed to park though.

  • Frank Krygowski

    First, it’s nuts to do a bi-directional bike lane in the situation shown in the photo linked by Edward. It’s an incomprehensible American craze that’s training half the cyclists to ride wrong way. Why on earth would you not have all cyclists riding on the right in their respective directions? Why not listen to Colville-Andersen? http://www.copenhagenize.com/2014/06/explaining-bi-directional-cycle-track.html

    Second, the numbers (38% or 68% reduction) seem suspicious. Streetview shows a speed limit of just 30 miles per hour, which hardly seems dangerous. What are the actual counts, and what sort of crashes were involved?

    A similar bi-directional lane was installed in Columbus, and caused car-bike crashes to jump from 2 to 15 its first year of operation. Motorists pulling out from side streets or turning across the lane caused crashes with cyclists that were out of sight, therefore out of mind. Please, let’s drop the idea that every street in America needs to segregate cyclists!

  • thielges

    “…a speed limit of just 30 miles per hour, which hardly seems dangerous.”

    A speed limit of 30 means traffic will be moving at 40MPH which is plenty fast enough to be dangerous.

  • nocklebeast

    It’s hard to evaluate this claim since the absolute numbers are not given.

    “Data from the City of Atlanta shows that in the past year that the bike lane existed, crashes (car, bike, pedestrian) decreased 38%! Even more compelling, crashes that caused serious injuries fell 68%! Local residents were safer because of the project.”

    Did the total number of crashes go from 1000 to 620? Or from 10 to 6.

    The former would be a statistically significant result. The later would be an example of a random fluctuation. There’s no way to know without the knowing the numbers.

  • nocklebeast

    some one found the raw numbers for me. 15 to 8. The statistical uncertainty is about the same as the difference.

    http://www.11alive.com/news/local/holding-powerful-accountable/westview-residents-question-citys-move-to-rip-up-pieces-of-bike-path/456500972

  • Ed Beighe

    15 crashes -> 8 would be a 47% reduction, not 38 (or 35 as mentioned in the original story), right?
    Serious injuries? It’s hard to imagine a 0.2mile stretch of calm city street has any *serious* injuries. the 11alive story mentions injuries, not serious injuries.
    As already mentioned, the data is unlikely statistically insignificant.

    —–
    The group said since it’s been in place, they’ve seen accidents decrease by 35 percent in one year. According to accident data for Westview Drive, there were 15 accidents between March 2015 to February 2016, before the lanes were installed. Eleven of those accidents resulted in injuries.
    Between March 2016 and February 2017, there were only eight accidents, only three of which resulted in injury.
    http://www.11alive.com/news/local/holding-powerful-accountable/westview-residents-question-citys-move-to-rip-up-pieces-of-bike-path/456500972

  • Frank Krygowski

    If traffic moves 33% faster than the speed limit, measures should be employed to stop that behavior. Society already gives motorists excessive privileges and too little responsibility. The solution is not to herd cyclists into weirdly designed cattle chutes.

  • iSkyscraper

    I guess Rob Ford came back from the grave to become Mayor of Atlanta? Because that’s how crazy this is, and he was pretty much the only mayor of a major city who enjoyed ripping out bike lanes.

  • Baloo Uriza

    That’s still every lane going in a direction opposite its immediately adjacent lane on a four lane road. The buffer doesn’t matter. This thing’s not up to code and the code exists for good reason in such cases.

  • @Frank Krygowski – If you were born yesterday, you could be forgiven for writing such an argument. If, however, you’ve spent decades joining online discussions about street treatments whenever a vehicular cycling listserv gets butthurt and calls for an influx of keyboard commandos, this posture of naïveté doesn’t come across particularly well.

  • Frank Krygowski

    Mr. Dyer: That response stoops toward insult, and fails to address the issue I raised.

    Why should American motorists be permitted to ignore speed limits, especially on residential streets shared by pedestrians and cyclists? Why are we telling cyclists “You don’t dare ride where you’re legally allowed, because law breakers make it unsafe, and we won’t stop them”?

    We have technology that can actively and passively enforce speed limits. We have police, we have radar, we have speed cameras, we have a large array of traffic calming techniques.

    Unfortunately, we also have bike advocates who say “We can’t spend the money to enforce traffic laws” and simultaneously say “We must spend fortunes to segregate bicyclists from speeding cars.” But we will _never_ be able to provide segregation on all the streets cyclists want or need to ride. There are millions of miles of roads in America, and segregated bike facilities can easily cost a million dollars per mile.

    It’s high time to treat motoring as a privilege that can be revoked for breaking the laws. That change, plus some very basic education of cyclists and motorists, would allow every cyclists from 8 to 80 to ride wherever they chose to go.

  • @Frank Krygowski – I actually agree that speeding should be brought under control, but as a pretext for grousing about bike facilities it is a bit disingenuous. There are literally thousands of articles online about tragedies caused by speeding motorists, where the issue you raised could stand to be mentioned, but you and your cohort of predictable others bring it up here.

    You also offer straw doll “bike advocates” and put words in their mouths, which is tiresome.

  • Frank Krygowski

    @ Jym Dyer – How odd that you believe I was the one who raised the issue of speeding! Please search for “thielges” above.