A new coalition of cyclists is scheduled to take to DeKalb Avenue Friday morning in a slow-roving protest of the way a corridor they call dangerous is designed.
From 2009 to 2013, DeKalb Avenue saw almost 1,500 crashes and four fatalities, according to Complete DeKalb Ave., a newly formed group lobbying for “complete streets”—roads designed to cater to cyclists and pedestrians, as well as automobiles.
That’s twice the accident rate of other Atlanta streets, per the group. Their mission is to spotlight how much safer the car-congested thoroughfare can be when people—drivers, especially—slow down and share the road.
On rainy April 12, activists carried out a similar morning exercise, called a “rush hour slow roll,” where 125 cyclists pedaled down DeKalb Avenue at a leisurely pace, causing commuting motorists to pump the breaks and be mindful of their surroundings.
@GMRenewATL Glad you asked. Some stacking behind the group, but the flow of traffic was nice, slow and calm w/ occasional friendly honks and cheers from drivers. Expect same diff w/ 2 way center turn lane. Add a low-cost protected bike lane with 3 and 2 lanes where we need them. pic.twitter.com/vA9ZZYj50K— Bennett Foster (@bencooperfoster) April 12, 2019
Friday’s event will launch at the north parking lot of the East Lake MARTA station and head west down DeKalb Avenue, ending at Docent Coffee on Edgewood Avenue to the north.
“Our vision is to reclaim DeKalb Avenue to build community, not just move cars,” says Stephanie Stuckey, a DeKalb Avenue resident and sustainability expert who helped organize the event, per a press release.
The DeKalb Avenue complete street initiative did not make the cut of the Renew Atlanta final project list revealed in March. Advocates for alternative modes of transportation hope events like slow rolls will garner attention from decision-makers at City Hall.
“Whether DeKalb Avenue’s fate hinges on policy tweaks, public meetings, or political pressure, one thing’s for certain: Nothing’s possible without people power,” said Ben Foster, policy and campaigns manager for the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, according to the release. “Ride DeKalb this Friday—every Friday.”
Organizers say their efforts have already “restarted high-level conversations related to DeKalb Avenue” with Renew Atlanta officials.
DeKalb Avenue is soon to undergo a repaving operation, which will strip the street of what many consider a dangerous reversible lane, but that’s not enough to make it safer for cyclists or pedestrians.
“Addressing broken sidewalks and lack of bike lanes should be the first step, not the last,” said Niklas Vollmer, a cycling instructor, advocate, and Complete DeKalb Ave. organizer.
Next month, DeKalb Avenue will temporarily close to car traffic for Atlanta Streets Alive’s cross-city event, which will showcase the longest route in the program’s history.