I LOVE riding in and around Doraville.
It’s really great, why?
Drivers are considerate – Doraville has a higher immigrant and middle-class population than a lot of other areas I ride in. These two characteristics seem to lead to more cautious and considerate drivers. This is obviously heuristic but that doesn’t negate the experiences I’ve had during the hours riding on the roads here.
The roads connect to other places – Doraville is great for riding in as well as riding through. This is a pass-through to all sorts of places. From here I can get to Stone Mountain, Downtown Atlanta, Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Norcross pretty much anywhere can be routed to from here.
There are actual side roads during rush hour that are not used as commuter short cuts – this is the most amazing thing. There are roads here, that are nice to ride that are not clogged with aggressive drivers during the prime 3:30pm-6:30pm hours. And they connect to other places!
Stuff to look at and people to see – There’s always things to see in this area. Businesses, traffic on the interstate, planes taking off and landing at the Dekalb-Peachtree Airport, you can even see Stone Mountain from behind the Farmer’s Market riding on New Peachtree Road. Lots of pedestrians using Marta. And this is weird to say but there used to be an AA on Stewart Road I would ride by late at night and there were always people outside talking, smoking cigarettes and it was kinda nice to have people around. I don’t use my bicycle to go places and shop but if I did this would be great place too, grocery stores and specialty shops are easily accessible by bike. Plus there are a ton of good restaurants.
Most top-end riders head west and end up dealing with dickheads from the wealthy areas of North Buckhead or the more congested streets closer to Atlanta on the top-end Northwest side. It’s a shame there aren’t any group rides that pass through here to Brookhaven.
If you’re ever in the area, here’s a little 45 minute route to show off some of the sights.
GDOT was always going to remove a travel lane to add a center turn lane. Knowing this was going to be an extremely unpopular choice and most likely would get extreme public backlash they added bike lanes to the proposal as a magnet for criticism. It worked very well, a lot of people got excited about being able to ride a major transportation corridor to work, the grocery store, neighborhood bar, or shopping mall. A lot of other people got seriously pissed about losing a travel lane “for bicycles” and completely missed the fact that they were losing a travel lane with or without the bike lanes.
What’s really shitty is that the striping for bike lanes was going to use existing roadway and not take anything away from cars. So now, when GDOT re-stripes the road, instead of a bike lane there will just be slightly wider outside lanes.
It’s this sort of short-sightedness that is so silly. I still ride Peachtree often and since the lanes are already so narrow there’s really no choice but to take the whole lane in most sections, integrating with automobile traffic and lowering the overall speed of that lane significantly. Which is obviously less convenient for drivers than a bike lane would be. Some of the choice quotes from the opposition were hilarious
Tuxedo Park Civic Association president Mercy Sandberg-Wright:
You know exactly what these two people are going to say:
“I drive this stretch of road daily and have yet to see a single bicyclist.”
Which means “I spend between 1 and 3 minutes on this road (it’s less than 0.5 miles long) every day and never see any bicyclists.”
Same as “I never see any sexual harassment at work, must not happen.”
Same as “I never have any problems with cops, must not be an issue”
“GDOT claims that if Peachtree’s lanes for motorized vehicles is reduced from six to four between Pharr and Deering roads — the Buckhead corridor — and a turn lane is added in the middle along with two bicycle lanes, the reconfiguring will “create a much more uniform traffic flow, which will improve the efficiency of the roadway and allow Peachtree Road to handle more vehicles per day.”
They’re doing this anyway, just without the bike lanes. Obviously no one read the proposal, they saw “bike lanes” and fired up the old Selectric.
“Peachtree Road between Pharr and Deering is way too dangerous for bikers.”
We’re riding there anyway, we’re just taking the whole lane and slowing you down. So, good job?
This was a major story (in the Atlanta bike scene anyway) for several months and was done a real disservice by the local news outlets who did their best to relay only the planned items having to do with bike lanes or streetcar items. I’m convinced a better proposal could have sold the bike lanes and added a world-class amenity to this city but I know that was never the point anyway.
Bike lanes were never really coming to Peachtree Road, they were just there to make sure a travel lane could be removed.
Tags: Dumb shit that makes you mad.
Although I guess it should be “Atlanta Metro Sucks” but the attitude is the same all over the metro area and the city as well. I’ve previously mentioned how much of a barrier the Chattahoochee can be when trying to move around the near northside metro and it’s always bugged me that Johnson Ferry east of the river is awesome, wide sidewalks and a bike lane but as soon as you cross the county line at the river there’s no cycling accommodations. Really sucks because the alternatives are far and steep. Saw this post in a city data thread and just had to sigh and shake my head. If it’s not petty racism limiting infrastructure and creating a mess of surface street routing it’s political infighting limiting the goodwill that can be created between different road uses. This place sucks.
This probably going to be a multi-part post but I figured I might as well start with what was bothering me today.
Let me lay a ground rule, if you can ride without extreme stress or danger during rush hour that roadway/route is a good, acceptable route. That cycling facility is a developed and effective transport corridor. A nice example of this is Interstate Parkway between Powers Ferry and Northside Drive.
You can ride this road any time of day and it feels low stress and safe since there is a wide shoulder and good sight lines. This road counts as a facility since it serves as the only safe, low stress, east-west crossing of the Chattahoochee within 4-5 miles. You can enter the roadway from a nice trail and you exit the roadway onto a slightly busy but within capacity 3 lane road that flows to a 2 lane with good shoulder.
An area with minor deficiencies is Mt. Vernon highway between Crestline Pkwy and Vernon Woods
The bicycle lanes at Perimeter Center do not have a good connection the the bicycle lanes on Abernathy and this is the only effective connection as the other roadways are high-traffic and/or high speed combined with narrow lane width. It only has minor deficiencies since the roads are reasonably wide and the traffic is generally slowed by the multiple lights with poor timing. The most stressful area is the slight rise and narrowing of the roadway after Barfield heading West. I ride this route often at all times of the day and it is passable but would be significantly improved with a bike lane. The other East-West options are poor. Abernathy E-W is a slaughterhouse and unsuitable for biking due to lane width and freeway entering/exiting traffic. Hammond is passable at offpeak hours heading West but it has a significant hill and a freeway entrance ramp. Heading East is ok during most times but you end up on roads that are high-traffic and speed during peak times. An effective solution would be a bike lane starting from Johnson Ferry/Glenridge and continuing to Hammond and then ending at the bike lanes on Perimeter Pkwy East.
These are fairly minor as there are other ways that are inconvenient but still passable to get East-West over 400. Let’s look at a major deficiency.
If one wanted to get from near northside Sandy Springs to the bicycle infrastructure in John’s Creek/Peachtree Corners and from there an easy transition to Sugarloaf and Lawrenceville they would find no good routes. The most common off-peak route is to take surface roads to Spalding and then Spalding all the way over to the bike lane on Peachtree Pkwy. From there it’s smooth sailing to Lawrenceville.
The issue is that Spalding is medium stress offpeak and abolutely high-high stress during peak hours as it is a main thoroughfare for commuters and parents. The worst possible combination. Spalding is narrow and has choke points where it shrinks due to business and residential development and has a few short steep hills with no shoulder. Not an option during peak hours. Furthermore the Chattahoochee prevents any more northern crossing and industry to the south does the same. There is nothing else, the only other option is trying to come up through Norcross.
This forces a crossing of Peachtree Industrial Blvd and still exposes you to the murderous rage of commuters. It also requires a crossing of Jimmy Carter. Which is actually pretty ok, you can enter near a light and although there’s no shoulder if you go at peak times the heavy traffic works in your favor. Still not a good route but slightly lower (still high!) stress than Spalding.
I think the main failing of modern cycling infrastructure is the positioning of bike lanes as a thoroughfare that needs to be several miles in length and almost always on an already busy street. We have this issue in metro Atlanta quite a bit. The bike lanes on Johnson Ferry are pretty much unusable going up the hill south as the bike lane is very narrow and road traffic is flying by at 50+ mph while you’re trying to ride up the hill at less than 10 mph. Same with parts of Sugarloaf. These types of infrastructure have their place but it would be better to supplment with strategic, shorter sections of bike lane as well. The lanes on Peachtree Pkwy/Industrial can take a cyclists very far but if there’s no good way to get to them what’s the point?
Of course, now we’re butting up against cyclist philosophy. There are a ton of cyclists, who aren’t commuters, who don’t care. They’re perfectly happy to embrace the ritual of cycling and ride the exact same half dozen or so routes in perpetuity. Others, like myself, are taken by the journey, the lore of the road, the ability to go places for no other reason than they are there and should be seen. To do so requires the ability to string together roads that have the most minimal impact on other and allow a safe transition from place to place. As I ride more and more in metro Altanta I’ll try to identify additional areas that could use improvement as well as other options that are non-obvious.
Cumberland is an edge city which means it’s 90% parking lots and 10% dickheads in cars. I lived there for two years and did quite a bit of riding around the area. As far as general cycling, it seems like a really good place to live & ride. The reality is a little different.
Starting with the features of the area:
The Akers Mill Trail: Features a 99% (one sidewalk section over a bridge) complete pathway to the Silver Comet trail. It’s the “wide sidewalk” model so it’s quite bumpy but it does work for getting to the Comet as well as the Dobbins AFB connector to Marietta.
The Silver Comet is pretty well known. From my apartment it was about 45 minutes to the trailhead off Concord road. You can take the connector but I preferred the surface streets since they’re less trafficked and flow a little better.
Sope Creek: This is a gravel loop as well as a 6 (8?) mile MTB loop. This is actually the most amazing thing. It’s a fully realized MTB trail within what is becoming one of the most overdeveloped areas in the country. This provides a nice low stress riding option within easy riding distance. It’s also possible to ride Sope Creek and then take the path on Lower Roswell Road to Big Creek and ride there as well. I’ve never done it because it takes 3-4 hours total with a significant amount of time on pavement.
Bandit trails over on the palisades. There are some extremely steep/techy trails south of 285 that are great for hiking and also maybe for banditing when foot traffic is low. I’ve heard.
So, on paper it’s pretty stacked with cycling features and those features are great! However the overall cycling picture is pretty poor. Your options are severely limited by the location of both the Chattahoochee and the 285/75 interchange. Both of these features restrict movement and require specialized crossings. For example if you decide to leave from Akers Mill and head East you can only really cross the Chattahoochee on Interstate Parkway North since Powers Ferry on the other side is narrow and loaded down with aggro drivers go to the new school and trying to get onto 285. The Parkway has a nice wide shoulder but is highly trafficked and is fairly steep so when I would ride it multiple days in a row to get to better riding I would really be hating life. If you want to cross further up you can go through the gravel trails to Columns drive, as long as it’s during daylight hours and generally not on a nice day or weekend since the walking path can be over loaded and generally unsafe to ride at >10 mph. The Southern crossing point here is at Paces Ferry and is ok but the pavement is really poor in spots and it’s also loaded with aggro drivers leaving Vinings and the Lovett School. So, there are only a few ways to cross the river and each has it’s own disadvantages and all are generally pretty poor.
This segues nicely to the next topic: Schools
Schools make drivers INSANE. Around schools they drive too fast, pass too close and generally endanger other road users (this include peds) with no threat of recompense. Jumping ahead, most of the safe riding in this area are the smaller roads in North Buckhead, these are ok since the houses are on enormous lots so the actual car traffic is fairly low, except around school times. During school times these roads are a lawless hellscape of shitty attitudes. Want to drive 70mph on a twisty two lane residential? Go for it! Want to run other drivers off the road by passing a cyclist, who is going the speed limit, on a blind downhill turn? Why not! There is never any traffic enforcement in these areas during most riding times and the drivers know it either consciously or unconsciously.
The terrain around Cumberland is pretty atrocious as well. To get out of the area always requires a steep but short climb. Just enough to get your heartrate jacked and fuck up your riding for the next 20-30 minutes. The hills can be fun, the Stillhouse KOM is an amazing climb for where it is and Northside is a staple of the best alleycat race in the city. But it’s a real pain when you almost have to ride these features on a daily basis.
I’ll probably add more later but to sum this up, Cumberland is a nice place to ride since it allows you options to get to other, better places to ride. Which begs the question, why not just live in those places?