On October 2, Athens-Clarke County voted to accept the Athens in Motion Plan. BikeAthens served on the Athens in Motion citizens advisory committee for two years. We are excited and proud to see the plan move forward. We anxiously wait to see the first group of projects get on the ground.
Being so intimately involved in the plan’s development makes it easy to forget that not everyone shares our familiarity with the plan’s contents. While we urge you to look through the whole document, which is available at the bottom of this post, here is a nice overview of the main points as explained by our partners at Complete Streets Athens (their commentary in italics):
Toole Design Group provided excellent leadership with unprecedented responsiveness to the committee and community’s input. “A Citizens Advisory Committee directed the strategic planning process and development of the network. … Hearing the voice of the public regarding biking and walking was crucial in forming the recommended network and will be essential for sustaining momentum and attracting new users as the plan is implemented.” (AiM Chapter 1, p. 9).
Guiding principles will allow us to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach and to use data to find the right solution for the right streets. “The recommendations are based on several guiding principles. First, high quality infrastructure can make the entire network more accessible and enjoyable for all types of users, regardless of age, income, or ability level. Implementing safe and well-designed bicycle and pedestrian facilities can encourage more people to use the network, building upon the existing culture for active transportation. Second, the location of the proposed infrastructure should satisfy multiple criteria, including land uses that best support biking and walking, the community’s desires, existing facilities, and equity. Third, the type of infrastructure proposed for each route should suit the existing context and provide the highest degree of safety for users.” (AiM, Chapter 2, p. 16)
For too long, getting attention for your neighborhood was a matter of the squeaky wheel getting the grease. Equity in transportation planning should be focused on looking at historical racial and socio-economic inequities and disinvestment in neighborhoods (not a “my district deserves just as much as that other district”). “There is a basic equity argument for making walking and cycling safer, more attractive, and comfortable modes of travel in Athens-Clarke County: at least one-third of the population is too young, or too old, or infirm, or unable and unwilling to drive. In addition, one quarter of households have only one car or no access to a car, leaving a substantial percentage of the population reliant for transportation via something other than a motor vehicle.” (AiM Chapter 3, p. 38)
Athens in Motion represents a watershed in transportation planning for Athens-Clarke County. “The Athens in Motion Plan lays out an ambitious schedule of projects, most notably an active transportation network for the area, that will be completed in the coming years. Somewhat uniquely, a significant investment of local transportation funds on pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure is already approved for projects in this plan. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the community, guided by a detailed, forward-looking plan, with funding in place.” (ibid.)
The need for safety improvements is real. “Athens-Clarke County has a significant traffic safety issue. … (Athens) is consistently one of the top 5 worst counties in the state for crash and injury rates (per vehicle miles traveled).” (AiM Chapter 3, p. 40)
Additionally, in Chapter 4 you will find the prioritization criteria and all the Tier 1 Projects.
There are separate lists of biking projects and sidewalk projects. The chapter also contains a list of Greenway segments that will have a big impact on neighborhood mobility (see pages 63-70 for a full list of projects). The Appendices constitute a bulk of the document’s 262 pages; they contain reams of valuable information. For example, Appendix B presents potential street “cross-sections” based on land-use context. Appendix D provides 64 pages of “Design Guidance.” It is all definitely worth a read.
Download the full plan and keep an eye on our pages for information on how to stay up-to-date on the Plan’s progress. Athens In Motion_Plan FINAL_2018_09_21_COMPLETE