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Piecemeal Peachtree Bike Lanes a Source of Ire, Again

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Peachtree Road is Atlanta's signature thoroughfare through Buckhead, stretching from The Connector to the city's northeastern boundary with Brookhaven. Through the years, piecemeal improvements have aimed to class up the street, especially around the financial core and Lenox Square. But with new plans to carry the work all the way south, bitter residents have butted heads about the future of the road and how space should be apportioned for vehicular versus bicycle traffic. A front-page report by the AJC suggests that the resulting recommendations for a compromise have left both sides underwhelmed.

One thing is for sure — much of Peachtree Road south of Piedmont Road needs some serious work. For being the signature street of the city, much of the thoroughfare looks more like "a mini-Buford Highway," one Buckhead resident told the AJC — because six jam-packed lanes of asphalt don't quite offer the best aesthetic. One component of the proposed changes includes the addition of a center-turn lane to allow left-turners to not block moving traffic. Any way you slice it, that change is going to result in the loss of at least one thru-travel lane.

Throwing two-wheeled transport into the equation ... well, that's when all hell breaks loose. Originally, the initial plan included the addition of dedicated bike lanes along the entire corridor, much like those already installed on the northern portion of the road. While advocates argue that they make the streets safer for all — including pedestrians, who benefit from a four-foot buffer between cars and the sidewalk — opponents counter that reducing travel lanes will just make traffic worse. To (dis-) please both sides, the most recent proposal suggests adding the bike lanes as envisioned between The Connector at the base of Buckhead and Peachtree Battle Avenue. But beyond there, all the way north to Pharr Road, the bike lanes just vanish, with the new turn lane still being implemented, reducing travel in the northbound direction to two lanes.

Yes — the solution is to basically half-ass the job. By adding half the infrastructure for cyclists, the entirety of the street just gets more dangerous as bicycles have to integrate intermittently with mixed-traffic. But resistance to the original proposal means that a watered-down version will likely be implemented, providing piecemeal infrastructure that could actually exacerbate the problems of bike and vehicular traffic mixing. Maybe continuous bike lanes aren't the answer, but, surely, partial bike lanes aren't either.

· Buckhead bike plan could squeeze traffic flow [AJC; subscriber]
· Buckhead's Controversial Bike Lanes Up for Vote... Again [Curbed Atlanta]