What you need to know about Atlanta’s right-on-red ban

Pedestrians walk on Peachtree on Wednesday, July 12, 2023 in Atlanta. (Michael Blackshire/Michael.blackshire@ajc.com)

Credit: Michael Blackshire

Credit: Michael Blackshire

Pedestrians walk on Peachtree on Wednesday, July 12, 2023 in Atlanta. (Michael Blackshire/Michael.blackshire@ajc.com)

Atlanta City Council passed legislation on Monday that outlaws turns on red lights in certain areas of the city. But the timeline on implementation is murky. Here’s what you need to know about the new restrictions.

Why ban red light turns?

The red-light-turn ban is part of a broader effort by Atlanta City Council to increase pedestrian safety. Advocates have raised red flags about an increased number of traffic fatalities in accidents involving pedestrians and vehicles.

Other legislation aimed at reducing deaths that has passed council recently include cutting down on the number of parking spots required in new developments near the Atlanta Beltline, and a moratorium on building drive-thru restaurants and gas stations within the Beltline overlay district.

What areas of the city will it impact?

Turns at red lights will be prohibited in downtown, Midtown and Castleberry Hill due to the high foot traffic in those areas from sports games, concerts, conventions and other big events.

The legislation defines the borders of the affected downtown area as North Avenue on the north, I-20 on the south, Northside Drive on the west, and I-75/I-85 (the “Downtown Connector”) on the east. These boundaries also include the Castleberry Hill neighborhood.

The Midtown area where the ban will take place is enclosed by I-85 on the north, North Avenue on the south, I-75/I-85 on the west, and Piedmont Avenue on the east.

When does it go into effect?

The legislation stipulates that the ban on right turns at red lights in downtown, Midtown and Castleberry Hill will be fully in effect by 2025. The original legislation gave the Atlanta Department of Transportation 180 days to post the proper signage.

But after concerns about the workload that it would add to the department’s already long list of projects, the date was extended to December 2025.

What will it take from ATLDOT?

The ban will impact 250 intersections in the stipulated areas of the city. That means hundreds of new signs need to be installed and any existing signage that contradicts the legislation removed. That also means changes to a small number of intersections in those areas of the city that allow left turns on red lights. Those turns also are banned under the legislation.