The PATH to Good Things
photo from Daily Kos
With schools back in session comes increased traffic congestion. It's no secret that the addition of buses and more vehicles (mixing it up with truck traffic on the roads) shuttling students to school and extra-curricular activities adds to the Atlanta metro area's traffic headaches. This ritual occurs annually in early August. Is it possible for this community to think about a reduction of vehicles on the road? Certainly carpooling helps, but it works for few people. Cycling is an excellent alternative to the automobile. Bicycles can get students to their destinations within reasonable times along with the benefits of exercise.
Unfortunately, cycling in the 'burbs as well as the city is a challenge in the Atlanta metro area. Ask anyone - including me - who negotiates the roadways via bicycle. Certainly it's a tall order to get out there on the roads, but not impossible. Most cyclists and automobile operators obey the rules. Indeed the frustrations with each other cut both ways. There are a few incidents where cyclists and drivers scuffle on the roads. Those episodes receive far too much attention.
There is some good news to report on the cycling front. Separated cycle facilities are coming to the city. What exactly are "separated cycle facilities?" These "facilities" make bike lanes, side paths and "cycle tracks" possible. Cycle tracks are a generous amount of space reserved for cyclists on the road. Yes, the skeptics will say that the metro area's roads are already too narrow, thus there will be even less room for cars to travel. According to the PATH Foundation, by early next year, it will be possible to " ride a bike on a separated cycle facility from Stone Mountain and the Eastside Atlanta BeltLine Trail into Centennial Olympic Park (COP) and the central business district. The John Portman Boulevard cycle track between Piedmont Avenue and COP will be the first separated bicycle facility in downtown Atlanta."
PATH goes on to say that, "New cycle tracks are also being constructed on Peachtree Center Boulevard between Edgewood Avenue and Peachtree Street, on Tenth Street between Charles Allen and Myrtle Streets, and on Fifth Street between Georgia Tech and Peachtree Street." With additional separated cycle facilities in Midtown and Georgia Tech and a Centennial Olympic Park bike depot, PATH states that Atlanta will become a bike friendly city.
I'm not exactly sure how the cycle tracks will appear on Atlanta's roads. There are attempts of this concept on Johns Creek's Medlock Bridge Road (also known as GA state route 141) and in some other areas throughout the 'burbs. It would be a dream come true for me and I'm sure many others if there was a system of cycle tracks throughout the 'burbs. It would also be a great benefit for students if they had a choice to use safe cycle tracks to get to school and activities.