Friday marked the ribbon cutting for the 5th Street and West Peachtree intersection improvements for cyclists.
The improvements will make it easier for cyclists to continue eastbound on 5th Street without having to illegally ride on the sidewalk as well as make it possible for cyclists to travel westbound across West Peachtree Street without exiting the bike lane.
While this may seem like a small step (and it is), I find it very exciting for two reasons. 1) It is the most innovative and advanced bike lane in Atlanta and 2) the ribbon cutting ceremony demonstrated to me that bicycling in Atlanta is moving beyond a fringe group of enthusiasts and into mainstream, accepted culture.
1) What makes this bike lane special?
In the global view of bicycling, this lane is nothing major. But in the context of Atlanta, it is a significant step forward for bicycling. It is the first bike crossing in the city (at least that I know of) to include crossing buttons specifically for cyclists. Previously, cyclists would have to hope that a car would come along to flip the induction loop sensor or they would have to dismount their bikes and walk over to a pedestrian crossing button. Thanks Atlanta for recognizing this issue and installing this button. Waiting at a light that never changes is a very frustrating experience.
Additionaly, we have colored lanes for added visibility, (the first that I have noticed around the city) and we have a contraflow bike path adjacent to the road to help bikers avoid having to illegally maneuver along the sidewalk with pedestrians. In the past, I felt like city planners were content giving bikers options that were “good enough”, but this project demonstrates a clear consideration for specific needs of bikers and meets those needs.
See the images below for a diagram of the project and a few photos. Click the pictures to enlarge them.
2) Look who showed up.
The second reason that I am excited about this lane, is the large political support behind it. Biking in a Atlanta can be a lonely experience at times. It is easy to feel like you do not belong here and that you are some crazy weirdo for trying to ride a bicycle 2 miles to pickup bread instead of using a 2 ton vehicle for that purpose.
The ribbon-cutting for this bike lane showed me that is changing in Atlanta. It was awesome to see the turnout for this event. More than 100 attendees shows up to hear Mayor Kasim Reed, Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson, Atlanta Bike Coalition Executive Director Rebecca Serna and others sing the praises of cycling in Atlanta and promise to advance the cause of cycling in this great city. It was awesome.
See a few pictures of the ceremony below. It was a good day for Atlanta.
That reminds me. It’s time to renew by ABC membership.
Up next, Cycle Atlanta, an app to help city planners determine where cyclists are going and help build infrastructure to meet their needs. More cool stuff!