A week after an Atlanta man was struck and killed while riding a scooter in Midtown, a group turned out to call for safer streets for bicyclists, pedestrians and electric scooter riders.
About 55 protesters formed a 240-foot “human-protected sidewalk” on West Peachtree Street right outside Arts Center MARTA station on Wednesday evening. The message to Atlanta city officials was that residents who don’t use cars as their primary mode of transportation need better protection as they travel city streets.
“What we’d like for this is to be emblematic for the infrastructure the city doesn’t have,” organizer Niklas Vollmer said.
Atlanta officials have advocated for safer road infrastructure for cyclists and scooter riders, but the popular two-wheeled e-scooters continue to be largely unregulated in Atlanta. Since the scooters arrived in the city in 2018, the city has taken action to require scooters be ridden on city streets rather than sidewalks, and set a speed limit of 15 mph. But there is still no requirement for riders to wear helmets.
Earlier this year, the city asked hospitals and medical providers to gather information on scooter-related injuries. Recently, the city learned that the data had not been collected as requested.
The safe streets rally comes a week after William Alexander, 37, of Atlanta, was hit and killed by a CobbLinc bus while riding a scooter in the intersection of West Peachtree and 15th streets not far from Arts Center MARTA station. Alexander’s death was the second scooter-related fatality this year; the first was in May, also near a MARTA train station.
Sidewalks near last week’s crash were under construction before the deadly wreck, something protesters insisted played a larger role than city officials are willing to admit.
Councilman Amir Farokhi, whose district covers Midtown, said while the city has made road improvements, there is more to be done to ensure residents’ safety.
“We’re putting in new streets and repaving roads and we tend to be doing so with multiple modes of mobility in mind,” he said, “but it’s really a drop in the bucket when you look at our entire urban infrastructure we have not made the concerted effort and investment and the type of infrastructure investments we need to have truly safe streets.”
Many are also hoping the city works to install more “light individual transportation,” lanes so non-car users can have dedicated paths.
“With the increase in scooters, it’s more apparent that this (safe streets) is a problem that the city needs to deal with,” said rally supporter Janet Stephens said. “In a vibrant city and a growing city like Atlanta, there needs to be safe streets for all.”
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