Atlanta Streetcars, the Beltline, and my own solutions - Digital Tool Factory blog

Atlanta Streetcars, the Beltline, and my own solutions

St. Louis, Missouri Mail Streetcarphoto © 2008 Smithsonian Institution | more info(via: Wylio)Somehow I’ve come across two infuriating Atlanta Transit articles in the past two day.  First was the Pricey streetcar won’t ease traffic articles from the AJC.  The second was Ryan Gravel’s speech on the Beltline at TedX Atlanta.   For more information on the Beltline check out the Wikipedia article.  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on the worthyness of each venture, but bear in mind, my beloved hometown has no money, and neither venture solves a problem the current Atlanta residents actually have.  The Beltline seeks to change development patterns in the future to make us more European in some of our transit ways (not necessarily a bad thing), and the streetcar would

The city’s grant application said the project’s benefits would outstrip the original investment two and a half times over, largely by raising real estate values along the route.

which for some reason is not called blatant graft.

Large projects always bring to mind Donald Rumsfeld’s adage “If a problem seems insoluble, enlarge it” which was the sort of thinking that got us into the Iraq war.  Urban planning has struck me as rife with that sort of thinking lately.

And now you ask, what you you do to improve life in the city of Atlanta for it’s current residents?  Here are my top picks:

Short Term/Mostly Free

  1. Cap the number of traffic lights at it’s current level.  If new developments need more they can be taken from somewhere else.
  2. Prohibit the use of police officers directing traffic for private office buildings, this slows down intown traffic to an unneccesary crawl in many areas.  The lawyers can wait for the light like anyone else.
  3. Actually enforce jaywalking laws, this slows down traffic and leads to more accidents than one might think

Medium Term / Some Cost

  1. The problem with our current road system is not necessarily the cars, but rather the widths and lengths of the vehicles, which cause the chokepoints.  Solution: move everyone over to smaller vehicles, specifically motorized scooters (max speed 35) and bicycles.   Convert rarely used lanes lanes and sidewalks to bike and scooter only lanes.  Build overpasses over traffic lights  and allow no traffic lights or stop signs on any of these new lanes (see the Dutch experience in safety and taking away traffic signals).    Use these lanes for intown commuter traffic to replace the highways and major surface streets (such as Ponce, Moreland, North, Marietta, Northside, et al.)

Long Term – None!  We’re not that sort of city.

Thoughts anyone?


This post originally appeared on the Stronico blog – with the absorption of Stronico into Digital Tool Factory this post has been moved to the Digital Tool Factory blog


Written By Steve French


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