Atlanta City Council approves resolution to close lanes for pedestrians

With fewer cars on the roads and more people getting out for fresh air, the Atlanta City Council wants to temporarily re-purpose some traffic lanes for pedestrians and cyclists.

Council members unanimously approved a resolution Monday asking the Commissioner of the Atlanta Department of Transportation to close some streets and lanes to cars and instead use them for foot traffic during the coronavirus pandemic.

"In a lot of areas the sidewalks are too narrow or there's not enough space for everyone and so this is intended to create more space for people to walk and move about safely when they're not driving," explained City Councilman Amir Farokhi.

That space, Farokhi explained, is critical to maintaining proper social distancing.  Other large cities like Boston and Denver have taken similar steps.

"I think it's a great idea," said Dione Davis, who rode her bike on the Beltline Tuesday afternoon. "It gives people an opportunity to really get some exercise and if there're fewer cars on the road, it's a lot safer for bikers and runners alike."

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Some, however, expressed concerns about the impact it might have on Atlanta's notoriously bad traffic.

"Depends on the road.  How much is it going to affect traffic, I guess, because a lot of people are going back to work," said Alex Evanson. "I think it's possible for the ones that aren't heavily trafficked."

The resolution did not specify which streets the city might target, but Farokhi said council members and neighbors could work with the ADOT to determine which areas need the extra designated pedestrian space.

The measure still needs Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' signature and the ADOT could choose not to implement the idea.