Road Cycling

In Atlanta, DeKalb Avenue’s reign of terror for cyclists, pedestrians could be ending – Curbed Atlanta

Within the next few months, Atlanta’s dreaded DeKalb Avenue could finally begin transforming into a corridor befitting a developed country. (Have you seen it, lately?)

In other words, a street on which pedestrians and cyclists don’t feel terrified to travel—and motorists don’t fear slamming into each other, or blowing tires on potholes and metal plates.

On Thursday, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition hosted a jam-packed open house to discuss the future of the thoroughfare. The latest designs for a “complete street” overhaul—a rearrangement that sacrifices automobile infrastructure for bike lanes and improved walking paths—were showcased.

The first phase of the Renew Atlanta bond program-funded project would reimagine the long stretch of DeKalb Avenue from Jackson Street in Sweet Auburn to Ridgecrest Road in Lake Claire.

It entails resurfacing, axing the reversible lane, sidewalk and ADA upgrades, and new bike lanes.

A map shows where and how the road would be improved.City of Atlanta

Atlanta Bicycle Coalition officials were especially excited to see the sidewalk and ADA aspects added to the plans, said executive director Rebecca Serna in an email to Curbed Atlanta.

“That’s a big deal and something we had pushed for after seeing how terrible the sidewalks were on DeKalb,” she said.

The mobility-focused organization, though, thinks there’s room for improvement in the plans.

“We are trying to get it extended to Whitefoord [Avenue]/Oakdale [Road] to fulfill the concept of connecting people to the MARTA station, and so people from neighborhoods south of DeKalb can access it,” Serna said.

Current plans call for a two-way cycle track on the north side of DeKalb from Hurt Street to Elmira Place, about three blocks shy of the desired eastern endpoint.

There would also be bike lanes on both sides from Nelms to Arizona avenues.

An outline of the plans illustrates the timeline for improvements. City of Atlanta

If all goes to plan, Phase 1 will wrap in May 2021.

The second phase promises more multimodal upgrades to the notoriously dangerous street, although details are still unclear, as that piece of the puzzle is in the design phase until construction financing is identified, Atlanta Department of Transportation commissioner Josh Rowan told Curbed.

One day, it seems, the nearly five-mile stretch of DeKalb Avenue and Decatur Street—between Peachtree Street and Ridegecrest Road, near the Decatur city limits—could be one that doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of every Atlantan on foot and wheels.