News, updates, commentary and more from BikeAthens. BikeAthens is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Athens, GA. BikeAthens promotes transportation and land-use policies that improve alternative modes of transportation, including pedestrian, cycling, and public transit options. The mission of our organization is to make alternative transportation a practical, convenient, and safe option for all citizens of Athens-Clarke County.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

An unfortunate anniversary...

It was two years ago today, on a Wednesday morning in early November 2005, that bike/pedestrian advocates were left stunned by a previous evening's decision by the Mayor & Commission, who refused to enact traffic calming measures on the "neighborhood" section of Prince Avenue to make it a safer, saner place.

In a 6-4 vote, the M&C shot down a proposal to three-lane the section of Prince Avenue between Milledge Ave and downtown, even though it came before them as an ACC staff recommendation. The opposing votes were cast in clear disregard of over five years of public input; they ignored the stated desires of every neighborhood association in the area - Normaltown, Pulaski Heights, Cobbham, and ARMC/King Avenue; and they defied outright the Guiding Principles of the ACC Comprehensive Land Use Plan, the MACORTS Long Range Transportation Plan and the ACC Bicycle Master Plan.

We are hopeful that there might be some change in the views of both citizens and elected officials who opposed the traffic calming on Prince two years ago. The Prince Avenue Baptist school that opposed the change is no longer present. Athens Regional Medical Center argued that ambulance response time would be negatively impacted by a three-lane proposal, but this view goes against all published findings. In addition, ARMC has subsequently proven the value of traffic calming on their own campus, installing a manned pedestrian crosswalk on King Avenue. There is new leadership in the local Chamber of Commerce, and we would hope that the dramatic changes on Lumpkin Street in the past two years have demonstrated clearly to local retailers that a three-lane road will not increase congestion or prevent people from coming downtown.

Several commissioners who voted against traffic calming on Prince vowed that night to develop a committee to explore alternative ways to make this section of Prince safer. Two years on, after a number of very serious accidents, there has still been no action.

Commissioners in favor of Prince traffic calming spoke clearly and convincingly that night of the need for change, citing pedestrian safety, vehicle speeds, the county's stated commitment to alternative transportation, and future commercial development as reasons to reconfigure the street from its cars-only iteration. Those arguments are all still valid.

For the safety of all of its users, now is the time to rethink Prince Avenue.

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