Midtown Atlanta’s bike-friendly future

A look at the Midtown Alliance’s plans for cyclists

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Big changes are coming to Midtown, assuming wishful planning leads to definitive change.Last week, the Midtown Alliance — a nonprofit membership organization consisting of “business leaders, policymakers and an engaged community” — debuted the Midtown Core Transportation Plan, the first of its kind. The Alliance has previously released Master Plans, dubbed “Blueprints,” but never before has there been a Midtown-focused comprehensive transportation plan. The plan aims to create a “safe, vibrant, accessible, multimodal future,” giving infrastructure a much-needed refresh. But perhaps the most interesting parts of the document involve proposals for cyclists.As Midtown gets flooded with millennials, traditional transportation methods are evolving. Between 2001 and 2009, 16- to 32-year-olds took 24 percent more biking trips and 23 percent fewer car trips around Midtown than in the previous decade. But this change in habits hasn’t been reflected by city infrastructure. Today, 75 percent of people in a Midtown community survey said they wanted “better bike infrastructure and improved public transportation options.”Midtown development hasn’t been completely ignorant to cyclist’s needs. Atlanta’s partnership with Relay Bike Share has put more than a half-dozen bike-share stations in Midtown. The Midtown Development Review Committee often suggests that new developments, particularly student apartments, offer bike parking and maintenance equipment. And Tech Parkway recently removed two of its lanes for a dedicated bike lane and pedestrian corridor. Looking forward, the Midtown Alliance’s comprehensive, if not overly ambitious, Transportation Plan seeks to address a host of other problems facing bikers. The plans include:• Adding a green-buffered bike lane to the 17th Street bridge• Redesigning the 10th Street bridge to be less hostile to bikers/pedestrians• Adding a buffered bike lane to Peachtree Place• Expanding Peachtree Place over the interstate with a bike and pedestrian corridor as an alternative to 10th Street’s more dangerous conditions• Converting a lane of Spring Street into a buffered bike lane• Changing the lanes of 10th Street to include a bike lane west of the interstate• Extending 10th’s cycle track between Myrtle and Juniper streets• Adding bike lanes to West Peachtree Street• Connecting West Peachtree Street to the Beltline’s Eastside Trail via an “off-street path”• Adding a buffered bike lane to Piedmont Avenue from Ponce de Leon Avenue to 15th Street• Creating a dedicated bike lane on Piedmont Avenue from 14th to 15th streets• Adding a bike lane to 15th StreetThat’s a whole lot of promises to be met, and the Midtown Alliance seems to be aware of that. According to the report: “To sustain this growth, however, physical improvements must be paired with policies, incentives, and actions that encourage Midtown residents and workers to embrace alternatives to driving.”