Atlanta’s post-war boom has positioned it as the archetypal sprawling Sunbelt city. Now, some in the city aim to make downtown friendlier for pedestrians and cyclists by converting some one-way streets to two-way thoroughfares.
The downtown business group Central Atlanta Progress has proposed turning six blocks of Baker Street into a two-way street. However, many business owners and workers strongly oppose the change, which they worry will create new traffic bottlenecks and lengthen already-long commutes.
Proponents, however, say two-way streets will make downtown safer for pedestrians and cyclists while also easing congestion.
A.J. Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress notes that one-way streets worked well when downtown Atlanta functioned as a “drive-in, drive-out” section of the city.
“One-way streets were made for traffic flow, not livability,” he says. “We’re entering a new era. … With more people living in high rises, two-way streets are more livable.”
In another attention-grabbing project, the city is considering converting a half-mile stretch of Peachtree Street into a Dutch-style “woonerf,” or “shared space.” These spaces welcome pedestrians and cyclists as well as drivers who all travel together without traditional safety infrastructure such as curbs, traffic lights, and signs.
More on downtowns reconsidering two-way traffic, shade as an economic development tool, and nurturing the nighttime economy appears in the August issue of Downtown Idea Exchange. Click below to learn more about Downtown Idea Exchange and other resources for revitalizing downtowns and commercial corridors.