When the Buckhead Community Improvement District and the Georgia Department of Transportation unveiled a plan to remove a travel lane from Peachtree Rd. between Peachtree Battle and Deering Rd.’s to add a bike lane and a turn lane, the push-back was as immediate as it was vocal. Already a congested mess during the best of times, removing an entire lane just for bicyclists, of which there seem to be few, seemed to be an idea that would if anything increase traffic dramatically.
Add to the rolls of the opposition the powerful voice of former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell and the Buckhead Coalition, whose members oppose the plan in an overwhelming majority. According to the group the majority of Buckhead traffic is from older residents who wouldn’t consider voting. In a letter to the GDOT, Massell asks that the idea be tabled at least for a few more years, until the millennial generation that apparently wants bike lanes, (as a millennial who has many peers who travel up and down Peachtree daily, I know of none who actually do) is more of a majority.
Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood has a much more reasonable plan – to use the many trails and pathways off Peachtree as bike paths to allow bikers to commute between Buckhead and Midtown, all while relieving congestion by staying off of gridlocked Peachtree. Even if a new bridge or two to span Peachtree Creek and some updated trails were needed, wouldn’t that plan make more sense than removing an entire lane from Peachtree, not to mention the headache of actually doing roadwork on the city’s busiest street?
The GDOT’s other plans, to add center turn lanes and/or left turn lanes at some intersections is much more palatable for Buckhead residents. After all, everyone is in agreement that traffic solutions are always welcome for debate. It’s just that when a ‘solution’ in the form of a bike lane would clearly cause more traffic than their already is, that’s the sort of fix Buckhead doesn’t need right now.