Published on June 3rd, 2015 |


PEDS head tells BCN: ‘Walking is a challenge in Buckhead’

“Walking is a challenge in Buckhead,” Sally Focks, president of PEDS (Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety), recently told the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, emphasizing that people want walkable communities.

PEDS President Sally Flocks addresses the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods on May 14.

PEDS President Sally Flocks addresses the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods on May 14.

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.

PEDS advocates for well-marked pedestrian crossings and retreat islands on multi-lane roadways.

PEDS advocates for well-marked pedestrian crossings and refuge islands on multi-lane roadways.

“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.

FIXFlocks 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

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.

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    5 Responses to PEDS head tells BCN: ‘Walking is a challenge in Buckhead’

    1. wf says:

      We live in Lindbergh Drive and my son (14 yrears old) has to cross the street to get to his school bus. His mom & I live in fear for his safety almost everyday since people drive too fast in both directions and do not stop to give the right to cross. I have sent emails to city of atlanta department of public works and nothing happened.
      Even adults find it very challenging to cross Lindbergh at any time of the day and any day of the week. There are pedestrian yield crossing signs in at some crossing points but no driver ever stops to yield pedestrians to cross. At the end of the day, we fear for our son safety everyday when he goes to catch his school bus.

    2. J says:

      What can also be done is limit the length of time construction projects keep sidewalks closed. Some of them (eg – Buckhead Atlanta and Domain at Phipps) are closed for an unnecessary length of time. It is extremely frustrating and is amplified by our super blocks, to get halfway down a sidewalk only for it to be closed but there isn’t a crossing nearby.

      Drivers are also terrible at screaming up to a light or stop sign and only looking left so they can quickly turn right. If you are coming from their right on a run or even standing there waiting to cross they rarely see you.

    3. Chris F. says:

      Pedestrian safety is definitely something to fix first, but if Buckhead doesn’t get a greater variety of local/low-key/non-pretentious bars/cafes/restaurants/shops there’s no reason to walk in Buckhead in the first place. Currently Lenox and Phipps are mainly the only two destinations where people can walk to (more or less) and in addition to that Buckhead is filled with too many upscale, highly pretentious restaurants geared to the business traveler with no per-diem limit. This is no sense of community or does not feel like a buzzing neighborhood where there’s something for everyone and people are out and about. Too bad it is a beautiful place!

      • Gale says:

        Great comment! As a Buckhead native from way back, I remember the neighborhood feel when my friends and I would walk up to Metro Music and to get pizza on Saturdays. Now I am a Midtown/West Midtown booster and only come to Buckhead to visit family. Not sure what went wrong or how to fix it, but Buckhead is not an interesting destination. It is only for those who want to drive their car and park it at Buckhead Atlanta/Phipps/Lenox or valet park at Umi/Atlas/you-name-it. That’s a shame.

    4. haywood jawalk says:

      walking in Buckhead is a disaster and has been for a long time. i hope PEDs can build on the success that the buckhead CID has made between the malls and piedmont. outside of that stretch of walk, you are going to die walking in buckhead.

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