Published on June 3rd, 2015 |5
PEDS head tells BCN: ‘Walking is a challenge in Buckhead’
Speaking directly about the walkability problems on Roswell and Piedmont Roads, Flocks stated, “We won’t be able to get drivers to change their behaviors without road engineering that isn’t confusing and makes sense,”
The PEDS advocate told those attending the May 14 meeting, “Education, enforcement and engineering are the three areas PEDS drives home when talking about road design with the Georgia Department of Transportation and the city,” Flocks said.
The results after a steep learning curve for local and state officials is that accessibility and safety are now vital parts of any discussion about road design, said Flocks, adding that “walkability” has become a key factor in neighborhoods and as the city improves its streetscapes.
As an example of that aggressiveness, Flocks recalled a story from 2009 when PEDS was seeking more pedestrian crossings on Roswell Road in Buckhead. The organization rented a bus, loaded up GDOT officials and dropped them off at various points along one side of the busy road. They were told to walk until they could find a crossing in order to rejoin the bus.
“It was a real eye-opener for them and it had an immediate impact,” Flocks said. “We try and get the engineers to the trouble spots so they can see, rather than being told or relying on maps or photos.”
Flocks said she has walked down Peachtree road with a ladder and camera and taken pictures of what exists and what should be done on Peachtree to make it more walkable. In-street crosswalk signs are the most important accomplishment to date.
Through education, PEDS also has been able to make developers realize there is money to be made by making their retail centers and housing developments more accessible to pedestrians.
Flocks said PEDS is advocating more pedestrian safety measures at busy crossings by urging new beacon technology in Buckhead and other Intown neighborhoods. Rapid flashing beacons—similar to the one on 10th Street at the MARTA station—and refuge islands in the roads offer the most safety to pedestrians, she added.
“Buckhead really wants a walkable community,” she said, “and these kinds of changes and improvements will get you there.”
Flocks said PEDS will be working with the city as it begins to make improvements and repairs to sidewalks and intersections using funds from the recently passed infrastructure bond referendum.
“Money has a big impact,” Flocks said, pointing out that GDOT has committed $6 million per year to pedestrian safety and $12.5 million per year has been committed to a last-mile connectivity program. “We need safe crossings near bus stops,” Flocks stated.
A lot of what City Council Districts 7 and 8 are getting from the Infrastructure Bond program is street resurfacing, Flocks said. Of the $45 million for street resurfacing, she said, “This is supposed to include sidewalk improvements.” She said PEDS is advocating for at least 4-foot 8-inch sidewalks “for people to be able to pass each other.”
For more information about PEDS, visit www.peds.org.
The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods has decided not to hold its regularly scheduled monthly meetings for June and July. The meetings are typically held on the second Thursday of each month.