What’s the best way to get more people on bikes? Make it easier and safer to bike by building world-class bike lanes, off-road paths, and mountain-biking trails. Here’s what to expect in the coming year.
In the City
In late 2019, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced a $5 million plan to triple the city’s number of protected bike lanes that separate automobiles and bicycles. Examples of recent bike projects include Cherokee and Spring streets, where crews are resizing automobile traffic lanes to create bike lanes. Portable barriers on 10th Street fronting Piedmont Park serve a similar purpose and send a message to motorists to stop using the bike lanes as “pop-up parking,” says Josh Rowan, the city’s commissioner of transportation. Rowan’s department this year will start construction on “Complete Street” overhauls—think wider sidewalks, roomy bike lanes, and narrower space for automobiles—on high-traffic and dangerous corridors like Cascade Road, Juniper Street, and Piedmont Avenue; safety improvements along DeKalb Avenue, one of the city’s notoriously pothole-ridden thoroughfares; and smaller projects. Next year crews will start Complete Streets work on Monroe Drive, Fairburn Road, and Howell Mill Road. Finally, Rowan wants to study whether some city traffic lights—on busy bicycling routes or at hills—can be programmed to give priority to bicyclists. “If we can move the fire trucks through, we can certainly move a group of bicyclists through,” he says. The projects are all an effort, Rowan says, to create a network of bike lanes, not just a project here and a project there, for a safe and seamless cycling experience in a hilly and hectic city. atlantaga.gov
On the PATH
Thirty years and 300 miles of paved trail later, the PATH Foundation continues its work building a network of greenways connecting bicyclists from one end of the metro region to the other—and even to Alabama. Greta deMayo, who took over as executive director last year after founder Ed McBrayer transitioned to executive adviser, says the nonprofit is stepping up its construction projects in cities outside Atlanta, including Covington, where PATH is helping extend the city’s Cricket Frog trail. In Newnan, PATH has started the third phase of the city’s LINC trail network. Closer to home, PATH is continuing work on the PATH 400 trail in Buckhead and extending the Silver Comet from the East-West Connector to Plant Atkinson Road and into downtown Atlanta. It expects to start work on a greenway trail in Sandy Springs close to Morgan Falls Overlook Park. Finally, it is also working to create the Westside Park Connector, a greenway trail connection between the Westside BeltLine Trail and Westside Park, the 280-acre greenspace in northwest Atlanta that’s set to open this year. That project will also provide a link to the Proctor Creek Greenway, which advocates want to see stretch all the way to the Chattahoochee River. pathfoundation.org
In the Woods
Thanks to MTB Atlanta, the local chapter of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association, metro Atlanta has gone from being practically devoid of options for mountain bikers to a decent place to enjoy a more rugged ride without straying too far from home. The group’s work on Southside Park in the early 2010s gave the city its first official mountain-biking trail. Starting last year, MTB Atlanta kicked off a $30,000 fundraising mission to expand the trails in five parks around the metro region, including Brown’s Mill Battlefield Park, Jones Mill Park, and Cannongate Nature Preserve, a recently protected 20-acre hardwood forest. In early 2021, the group won a grant to study building a 20-mile mountain-biking network in Chattahoochee Bend State Park, near Palmetto. Around the same time, MTB Atlanta crews started working on the River Bluff Trail in Carrollton’s Moore’s Bridge Park, expected to be complete in March. If you’re a frequent user and want to give back, or want to meet more people in the mountain-biking community, look on the group’s website for volunteer opportunities like the nonprofit’s regular (and socially distanced) maintenance meetups at Sope Creek or other trails. mtbatlanta.org
This article appears in our March 2021 issue.