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In urbanizing Dunwoody, developers look to Denmark for bike infrastructure inspiration

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Currently, 75 percent of Dunwoody residents commute alone in personal vehicles

In Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, the traffic is mostly from cyclists.
In Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, the traffic is mostly from cyclists.
Getty Images

Dunwoody is just beginning to get a feel for what it’s like to be an urban(izing) city, and its leaders are looking toward innovative ways to accelerate the process.

Last month, developer Grubb Properties earned a thumbs-up from the city’s planning commission to squeeze some 900 condos into four towers as part of a major mixed-use build.

That project, Park at Perimeter Center East, is dense in a way that would impress an Atlanta urbanist. It would also include roughly 500,000 square feet of office space, around 12,000 square feet of retail, a handful of for-sale townhomes, and almost three acres of greenspace complemented by a 12-foot-wide multi-use trail.

an early rendering of the proposed project
Part of the vision for Park at Perimeter Center East
Courtesy of Grubb Properties

Elsewhere, the 16-story office tower development Twelve24 is on track for early 2020 delivery next to Perimeter Mall and the city’s MARTA station.

Those are just two examples.

But even with increased density and transit-oriented development, some Dunwoody stakeholders feel the city is falling behind on one key aspect for mobility and recreation: decent bike infrastructure.

a rendering of the 16-story tower
Trammell Crow Company

Demark-based urban planning company Copenhagenize Design Co. is working for Grubb Properties to help figure out how Park at PCE can best become a cyclist-friendly community.

Copenhagenize studied the existing bike infrastructure and transportation trends in Dunwoody to find out how increased bike use can benefit the upcoming development and the city at large.

For urbanists and haters of traffic jams, the numbers are grim.

Currently, 75 percent of Dunwoody residents commute alone in personal vehicles, just 6 percent use buses, and a scant 0.1 percent ride bikes.

Only 7 percent of the city’s roads have bike lanes, and for people inclined to walk to work, less than 36 percent of the streets have sidewalks.

It’s safe to say Dunwoody is exceedingly car-dependent.

Inventory of Dunwoody’s bike facilities

According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, cited in Copenhagenize’s research, there are four types of cyclists: “no way no how; interested but concerned; enthused and confident; and strong and fearless.”

About 60 percent of people fall into the “interested but concerned” category, largely because they don’t feel their environment is well-suited for biking.

But if Dunwoody can evolve and adopt better bike facilities, the entire city will reap the benefits, Copenhagenize’s report says.

Right now, the city has just 15 miles of on-street bike facilities in painted lanes, but they’re primarily used by confident and experienced cyclists.

Improving that mindset (and beefing up that mileage) isn’t as simple as re-striping roads with more bike lanes, per the report: “Of even greater concern, many bike lanes end with little advanced warning and leave bicycle users stranded in the middle of uncomfortable street corridors or intersections.”

Grubb Properties hopes the new research will help “make Dunwoody the model for future mixed-use bicycle communities in the U.S.,” according to a press release. “Creating a safe and accessible biking community that encourages people to stop and speak with neighbors is one of the central objectives for Park at Perimeter Center East.”

In addition to having its own multi-use trail network, the Park at PCE is also expected to be designed as a hub of connectivity for existing and new bike facilities.

On top of that: “Grubb is designing a key trail that goes through Park at PCE and is contributing 50 percent of the cost of a new trail/path to the Perimeter Mall,” the press release states. “The city has already found matching funds for the other half.”

Could Dunwoody be viewed as metro Atlanta’s little Denmark one day? It sounds as if the proverbial (two) wheels are turning in that direction.