Posted on: May 25, 2016
How do you get a region built for cars to let go of the steering wheel and grab the handlebars or a pair of walking shoes?
The key, according to the Atlanta Regional Commission’s (ARC) updated bicycle and pedestrian plan, is offering residents safe, comfortable and convenient places to walk and bike – and by encouraging them to take baby steps before taking off the training wheels.
From sidewalk improvements to the completion of a regional trail network, ARC’s “Walk. Bike. Thrive!” plan provides a recipe for a healthier, more competitive region that provides access to active transportation for everyone.
Here are six things you need to know about the plan and its objectives:
1. Make targeted investments to make it easier for people to get more places without driving
Popular destinations, such as schools, parks, transit stops, and regional office and retail hubs, are all too often cut off from existing sidewalk and trail networks. Targeted investments can make it easier for people to get more places without driving.
2. Increase bicycle ridership by making biking safer
Just 5 percent of all trips taken in the region are by bicycle or on foot. This number could increase with measures designed to make cyclists feel safer and more comfortable, from building bike lanes and multi-use trails to installing traffic calming measures.
There’s huge potential: 42 percent of metro Atlantans live within a five-minute bike ride of a trail and 33 percent live within a five-minute ride of a transit stop.
3. Connect existing trails to create regional network
On a larger scale, ARC and its regional partners will focus on building a connected regional trail network that would link the Silver Comet Trail, Big Creek Greenway, Arabia Mountain Path, Atlanta BeltLine, and others. We’re closer than you think to having one of the most comprehensive trail networks in the nation.
4. Encourage more designated ‘Walk-Friendly’ and ‘Bike-Friendly’ communities
Increasing the number of people walking and biking in the region requires a multi-pronged, holistic approach that includes improved infrastructure, robust educational outreach and increased public safety measures.
ARC’s bike-ped plan encourages communities across the region to strive to become designated Walk Friendly and/or Bike Friendly Communities. These programs provide a roadmap to help communities improve conditions for walking and bicycling.
ARC will become a resource center for communities that want to work towards becoming Walk Friendly and/or Bike Friendly places. The agency will provide technical assistance and convene an annual forum to bring together like-minded community leaders for sharing ideas, challenges and best practices.
There are six nationally-designated Walk-Friendly & Bike-Friendly Communities in the Atlanta region:
- City of Decatur – Walk Friendly & Bike Friendly
- City of Atlanta – Walk Friendly
- Peachtree City – Bike Friendly
- City of Roswell – Bike Friendly
- Georgia Tech – Bike Friendly University
- Emory University – Bike Friendly University
5. Emphasize the economic value of quality bike-ped networks
According to a 2014 report by George Washington University, 50 percent of all income property developed in metro Atlanta since 2009 was in walkable, urban places. Numbers like this demonstrate the value of building bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure as key elements of a successful, competitive community.
6. Allocate $1B in long-range plan for bike-ped infrastructure
ARC and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) are focused on making biking and walking safer through metro Atlanta and the state of Georgia. ARC’s The Atlanta Region’s Plan allocates more than $1 billion in federal, state and local funds over the next 25 years to building and improving this infrastructure. This plan highlights routinely unsafe conditions found throughout the region and will help local, regional, and state agencies collaborate to identify and improve unsafe corridors.