Four pieces of good news for urbanism in Atlanta
These news items came at me one right after another — no time to write about any of them indepth, so here’s a glimpse at each. We’ve got: expanded bike lanes; a streetcar test using its electronic wires; solid numbers on the $ savings if you switch to MARTA instead of car ownership; and a massive surface parking lot in Midtown becoming apartments. So much good stuff! 
Bike lane projects planned in Midtown (Decaturish)This is a good report on the impressive number of bike lane projects in store for Midtown Atlanta. Councilman Kwanza Hall says: “Our aspirations are to take some pages out of some European cities and larger American cities, and offer a competitive experience, that our cyclists in town can enjoy.”
Atlanta Streetcar to make test run of full route on Oct. 1 (Atlanta Intown)In case you’re interested in having a really hard time staying awake this Thursday: the Atlanta Streetcar is conducting the first self-powered run of a train on its newly-electrified wires this Wednesday night, starting at 11pm and going until the following morning. It’ll be moving very slowly, I’m sure, testing out the power source and more.
Public Transit Provides Your Budget Consistency Compared to Fluctuating Gas Prices (APTA)According to a new report, Atlantans can save $9,467 per year by using transit instead of owning & driving a car. That number is made from a combo of average car ownership costs, current gas prices and the monthly cost of a transit pass. Not included in that number, the “stress miles” you save by sitting on a bus listening to podcasts, versus navigating through traffic.
Ground Breaks on Two More Midtown Apartment Towers (Curbed Atlanta) I’m very happy to see this long-time car pit, directly across the street from a key transit station, getting a new and better use: a 4 acre parking lot across the street from Midtown MARTA station is now under redevelopment as apartments 

Photo: food trucks today on Forsyth Street, Downtown Atlanta; a block south of the streetcar tracks, which will be given another test run this week.

Four pieces of good news for urbanism in Atlanta

These news items came at me one right after another — no time to write about any of them indepth, so here’s a glimpse at each. We’ve got: expanded bike lanes; a streetcar test using its electronic wires; solid numbers on the $ savings if you switch to MARTA instead of car ownership; and a massive surface parking lot in Midtown becoming apartments. So much good stuff! 

  • Bike lane projects planned in Midtown (Decaturish)
    This is a good report on the impressive number of bike lane projects in store for Midtown Atlanta. Councilman Kwanza Hall says: “Our aspirations are to take some pages out of some European cities and larger American cities, and offer a competitive experience, that our cyclists in town can enjoy.”
  • Atlanta Streetcar to make test run of full route on Oct. 1 (Atlanta Intown)
    In case you’re interested in having a really hard time staying awake this Thursday: the Atlanta Streetcar is conducting the first self-powered run of a train on its newly-electrified wires this Wednesday night, starting at 11pm and going until the following morning. It’ll be moving very slowly, I’m sure, testing out the power source and more.
  • Public Transit Provides Your Budget Consistency Compared to Fluctuating Gas Prices (APTA)
    According to a new report, Atlantans can save $9,467 per year by using transit instead of owning & driving a car. That number is made from a combo of average car ownership costs, current gas prices and the monthly cost of a transit pass. Not included in that number, the “stress miles” you save by sitting on a bus listening to podcasts, versus navigating through traffic.
  • Ground Breaks on Two More Midtown Apartment Towers (Curbed Atlanta) 
    I’m very happy to see this long-time car pit, directly across the street from a key transit station, getting a new and better use: a 4 acre parking lot across the street from Midtown MARTA station is now under redevelopment as apartments 

Photo: food trucks today on Forsyth Street, Downtown Atlanta; a block south of the streetcar tracks, which will be given another test run this week.

Streets Alive time-lapse Atlanta 2014

This is a cool time-lapse video from Chris Tilley. It shows what happened at Atlanta’s recent Streets Alive, when North Avenue was closed off to cars and filled with people on bikes, on foot and more.

Streets Alive is a regular event here that allows Atlantans a safe, car-free environment for interacting with the streets and neighborhoods while using human-powered transportation. For me, an occasional (and not very brave) cyclist, it’s been a good way to practice cycling on the streets — to get used to the terrain and the feel of this environment so that I’m not shocked into panic when I’m riding in mixed traffic.

(Source: youtube.com)

"Despite a dozen new bike lanes and the Atlanta BeltLine, we still have only about 60 miles of on-street bike lanes and 69 miles of trails. For comparison, let’s look at Austin. It currently has 192 miles of on-street bike lanes, along with 201 miles of multi-use path trails, and it has planned an additional 1,100 miles of bike lanes. Dallas has plans for almost 1,300 miles of bike lanes."

Investing 15 percent of bond package on bikeways a good way to make Atlanta a top 10 city for cycling | Saporta Report

Shadows and light at sunset, Atlanta

Shadows and light at sunset, Atlanta

Tags: atlanta

Luckie Street, Downtown Atlanta.
This dude w/ the guitar makes for a nice photo, but he is cluelessly crossing the street against the light in front of a taxi. Tempting doom. I sometimes wonder if high schools should teach Basic City Skills 101. A lot of suburban kids who’ve never navigated the city as a pedestrian end up in Downtown’s GSU campus (and other similar big-city campuses). Most of them do fine, but a decent percentage could use some coaching on basic urban survival.

Luckie Street, Downtown Atlanta.

This dude w/ the guitar makes for a nice photo, but he is cluelessly crossing the street against the light in front of a taxi. Tempting doom. I sometimes wonder if high schools should teach Basic City Skills 101. A lot of suburban kids who’ve never navigated the city as a pedestrian end up in Downtown’s GSU campus (and other similar big-city campuses). Most of them do fine, but a decent percentage could use some coaching on basic urban survival.

Tags: atlanta

The street where we live, Downtown Atlanta. 

Tonight: I rode the MARTA train in from work, walked less than a block from the train station to the Central Library to meet some people, met my family at the library where they were getting books & DVDs, then we walked two blocks to dinner at a restaurant and one block home. 

Downtown life.

The street where we live, Downtown Atlanta.

Tonight: I rode the MARTA train in from work, walked less than a block from the train station to the Central Library to meet some people, met my family at the library where they were getting books & DVDs, then we walked two blocks to dinner at a restaurant and one block home.

Downtown life.

What should be the purpose of streetcars?

This is a divisive issue for many: should we put public money into building streetcars that are going to primarily serve as development tools, versus being transportation lines only?

Particularly with streetcars that flow in mixed traffic with cars and have to suffer through that same congestion, this is a hot-button topic. In the article linked above, it appears that Seattle is planning to move away from development-focused streetcars with a line that is built for speed by having its own exclusive lane of travel.

The Atlanta Streetcar’s 2.7 mile downtown loop will travel in mixed-traffic lanes with a low operating speed. Because of that, it’s much more of a development tool at this point for places like the long-struggling Auburn Avenue corridor, as well as a means of transporting tourists to major sites. It is, to a lesser degree, a source of effective everyday transportation (though it can certainly serve that purpose for some workers, as well as GSU students, residents and visitors).

In a way, pitting these two streetcar functions — development vs. transportation — against each other is a false argument because nothing stays the same in cities. The development-tool streetcar line of today, if successful in building walkable density around it, could end up becoming an exclusive-lane route of tomorrow, with a focus on transportation.

Atlanta Streetcar

Tweaking transit lines to serve changing cities

The use of fixed mass transportation lines always changes along with development around those lines, as well as societal shifts. Just consider the park-and-ride MARTA stations. Once thought to be the most logical use of land around the stations, the surface parking lots for many are now slated for conversion to mixed-use, transit-oriented developments that will serve a population that is increasingly interested in living less car-centric lives.

With the Atlanta Streetcar, parts of the route, like the Peachtree Street segment, could obviously be converted to exclusive lanes at some point. I’d like to see that happen. But I say let it serve as a development tool first, building up a greater density on the route (a recent rezoning project for the Auburn Avenue corridor of the route will help facilitate that).

By the time that phase is passed, we’ll be ready to extend the line — hopefully to the Atlanta Beltline and its destined transit element — and use it primarily as a transportation tool that works as part of an interconnected, multi-modal system. And perhaps by then we’ll be able to convert the entire route to exclusive lanes. I don’t know the actual hurdles that would need to be overcome technically to make that conversion happen, but it’s pretty easy to imagine it taking place.