In October, I sat through a number of meetings where the embrace and distaste for transportation solutions were often at odds with each other depending on what part Atlanta you happen to live in.
There are many residents of Buckhead who are dead-set against bike lanes being installed on Peachtree Road. The most vocal say it will be dangerous, slow down traffic and just be inconvenient in general to everyone driving a car. Having to look in your right side mirror to see if a bike might be approaching before you make a turn is anathema to some drivers. You can read more about the proposed Peachtree bike lanes at this link.
I felt the same way as I watched Ponce de Leon Avenue get a similar “road diet” in 2013. Traffic lanes were removed to make way for center turn lanes and bike lanes on both sides of the street. For the first week or so, it was a bit disorienting and I was hyper-aware that bikes might be coming up alongside me as I made a right turn. Now, it’s second nature to look in both my rearview and side view mirrors to make sure the bike lane is clear. Anyone who travels Ponce knows that traffic can be intense, especially as you approach the Ponce City Market area. You couldn’t pay me to get my fat behind on a bike on either Ponce or Peachtree, but people who have decided to cycle to work, run errands or simply exercise have my respect for their bravery – especially if they also follow the rules of the road.
If running bike lanes up Peachtree would slow traffic down, just imagine being caught behind a streetcar and having a cyclist on your right. The horror, the horror! I think streetcars are a cool idea and could definitely unify the Atlanta BeltLine, but even I have my doubts about a line running from Buckhead to Fort McPherson (read more about a Buckhead resident’s efforts to stop it at this link). We already have MARTA rail on Peachtree, so instead of spending millions on a streetcar, how about opening a few more train stations? How about more people getting out of their cars and getting on public transportation? Perhaps MARTA Army, the grassroots organization promoting riding the city’s bus and rail system, can inspire more people to use what we already have. You can read more about MARTA Army at this link.
As for parking, I have a particular beef with Ponce City Market’s new paid parking lots. I met colleagues there on sunny Saturday afternoon for lunch and the Central Food Hall was buzzing with families waiting in line for chicken and biscuits from Hop’s and double cheeseburgers from H&F Burger. PCM is encouraging visitors to use the BeltLine, bike or walk. The surface parking lots were full and I saw folks gathered around the pay kiosks with looks of frustration on their faces. I finally drove into the underground parking deck and found a space, but was faced with having to guess how long I’d be at PCM and put in a dollar for every 30 minutes. Instead of numbered parking, each car must enter its license plate number. When my ticket printed, I realized I had accidentally transposed a number in my license plate. Great.
Upstairs at guest services, I met some of my colleagues who had been unable to find a working kiosk. Also, there is no validation from any of the stores or restaurants. The staff was very friendly and apologetic about the parking issues, but come on, PCM, you have to find a solution to this disaster of a parking situation. PCM is too cool to have something as trivial as bad parking kill the buzz before you’re even inside the door. My advice: Consider something along the lines of Atlantic Station’s parking deck, where you get a good chunk of free time and can get validated parking from restaurants and shops. Otherwise, it just seems like a money grab.
I hope everyone has a great November. There’s plenty to do and see around Intown as the holidays descend upon us once again.
Gobble, gobble, y’all!