At a busy Peachtree intersection Monday, bicycles lined the curb as mobility activists said they were disappointed in Mayor Andre Dickens for halting the project. Dickens made transportation a focus of his mayoral campaign.
Signs had messages like “I don’t want to die on Peachtree” and “Make Peachtree safe for people.”
“The reason that I want this is because of safety, for the most part. With the shared space project, it is a vision for what future projects for shared space will look like in the city,” said Carden Wykoff, who organized the “Save Share Peachtree” coalition and protest. “The big question is, what does that mean for the future projects?
A petition calls for the city to hold off on removing the installation for another month, and then move forward with the next phase.
The pilot program was initially meant to last for 90 days, but was extended for nearly six additional months. A spokesman for Dickens said Monday that the permit for the project expires this week.
“The good news is during the (project), the city collected a large amount of data which will help guide future projects holistically across the city,” the spokesman said in a statement. “We will be assessing that data to inform how we move forward.”
The city’s announcement last week did not say what could be next for the project, and did not commit to moving forward with the bold vision for Peachtree that was proposed in 2020. That involved possibly redesigning Peachtree to eliminate the curb, install special pavement or add seating along the road.
The city said a report studying the pilot program yielded positive results: It resulted in an average increase of pedestrians by 27%, an 11% decrease in the number of vehicles, and a 2 to 3 mph decrease in vehicle speeds.
Sally Flocks, the former head of PEDS, a pedestrian advocacy group, said the installation helped “get some life out on the streets” in a primarily commercial area that could feel sleepy at times.
“Make it a street where people want to spend time,” she said.
The project has support from the local neighborhood association and businesses including International Market Centers, which owns AmericasMart, and the owner of the 191 Peachtree tower.
Dickens told Axios Atlanta that the possibility of state legislation being introduced to preempt cities from implementing such “road diets” was part of the decision to stop the program.
Last Wednesday, the day before the announcement that the installation would be taken down, the Atlanta Regional Commission approved a $1.2 million grant for the project, with the city contributing an additional $300,000. Officials haven’t said what could happen to those funds.