TL;DR version: Bill Kennedy Way in Atlanta is already dangerous for cyclists. It just got more dangerous with Publix opening in the Madison Yards development by Fuqua. Please help me advocate for signage/lanes/policing now so that drivers can be trained to be safer.
If you’re a cyclist in Atlanta who lives in Grant Park, Ormewood Park, Glenwood, or East Atlanta, you know that there are basically three ways to get north of I-20: Maynard Terrace, Cherokee, and Bill Kennedy. Drivers on Bill Kennedy give the least cares about cyclists, so it can be dicey.
Yesterday Publix on Bill Kennedy opened. Today my son and I were biking south on Bill Kennedy when a driver pulled out of Publix, also heading south, and decided that, even though she could see us right in front of her, it would be fine for her to turn into our lane. She pushed me off the road, off my bike, and onto the ground.
I will save the description, for now, of the kind of apocalypse I imagined raining down on her as she awkwardly half slowed, avoided checking to see if we were ok, and then sped onto the highway.
Drivers who are rude/dangerous/unaware of pedestrians and cyclists are a part of life in Atlanta; on average, it’s getting better. The best change comes from signage and protected bike lanes. Drivers need to be forced to slow down, look around, and consider the limits of their supremacy. That’s what the Publix entrance, and all of Bill Kennedy Way, drastically needs — a driver education program that includes signs, protected and/or painted bike lanes, and police observation.
You can do this pro-actively, or after people start getting hurt. We’re right on that bubble with Madison Yards. Publix just opened, but within the next year there will be a movie theater, a bunch of businesses, and hundreds of apartment/condo units flooding the streets with cars. The developers and the City of Atlanta can start preparing drivers now, or they turn a blind eye to a bad situation that’s about to get worse.
I called the manager of the new store (Keith) to get some advice on how to pursue that angle. He kindly said he’d have the real estate representative (Sarah) call me back to talk over ideas. Maybe that will happen; maybe it won’t. That doesn’t change the fact that Bill Kennedy Way is a problem that needs to be fixed.
The southern tip of the East Side Beltline has reached Memorial Drive. Bill Kennedy Way and Madison Yards stand between the end of that trail and its connection point with the Southside Beltline. In the coming weeks hundreds of pedestrians, scooter-riders, and cyclists are going to start venturing further out of Old Fourth Ward than the have before, all the way down to Madison Yards where developers want to harvest their cash. It’s incumbent on Fuqua Development (developers at Madison Yards) and the City of Atlanta to do better than they have so far.
However, [Jeff Fuqua] shared that the project will build about 1,200 feet of Beltline trail through its property.
The developer plans to add along the Beltline about 20,000 square feet of retail space (with possibly four restaurants), office space and apartments, Fuqua said.
“Think of a juice bar and bike and skateboarding shops,” added [Fuqua partner Heather] Correa.
This could have been fixed two years ago. It’s dangerous to conceive of, build, and rent out “bike and skateboard shops,” much less anything along the Beltline, without first putting in place protections for pedestrians and cyclists. That’s “profit over people”and it gives in-town development a bad name.
If you have suggestions about how to effectively lobby for better driver education around Bill Kennedy and Madison Yards, please reach out to me on Twitter (@allistelling) or via email (prorabaugh at gmail).