Roswell officials are thrilled so many people use the North Fulton city’s new boardwalk to enjoy views of the Chattahoochee River, but acknowledge its popularity has caused a dangerous situation on the nearby roads.
More people means more drivers squeezing into roadside parking, sometimes leaving vehicles sticking out into lanes. In response, the city announced Tuesday that police will be increasing enforcement of illegally blocked lanes for vehicles and bicycles, specifically along Willeo Road and Azalea Drive.
“It’s getting to the point where it’s harmful to the experience of a park because of all these cars parked along the road and blocking the bike path,” said Sean Groer, the Roswell city councilman in charge of transportation, on Wednesday.
The city said it is adding signs reminding drivers not to block the lanes when parking. Those in violation may be issued a violation with a fine of $50.
Groer said he started hearing about the problem two years ago from the local cycling community, but he’s also heard from drivers.
“What we don’t want is for people not to come to our parks because there’s nowhere to park” Groer said.
Lise Walker, president of local advocacy group Bike Roswell, said members of her group contacted city transportation officials and shared pictures of the parking problems. “Vehicles traveling on those roads expect bicycles to occupy the bike lanes, and bicycle riders would prefer to allow safe passage of motorists trying to navigate the roads,” she said.
Groer said he sees license plates from Cobb and Gwinnett counties on vehicles parked along to road visiting Riverwalk, the multi-purpose greenway that includes a boardwalk along the river.
“I think the popularity has even been more than what we expected,” he said.
City parks director Jeff Leatherman said his department doesn’t keep visitation numbers, but he knows there’s an issue with parking along the river.
Leatherman said he and his staff have been tasked with finding solutions. He said he has been in touch with the nearby Big Creek Wastewater Treatment, which is run by Fulton County, and the Chattahoochee Nature Center to see if they have room for additional vehicles, especially on the weekends. Other possibilities include a small shopping center on Marietta Highway.
He said they are actively looking for partners. But even if the city got permission from another facility to use its parking lot, he said trails would have to be built or possibly a shuttle would have to take people the short distance from those lots to the river.
“Those are all things long-term that we’d like to explore because what we have now has too many conflicts,” Groer said. “We have to do something before having an accident there.”
Leatherman said the vision for how to alleviate the parking problem should fit into the regional plan for connectivity along the river.
The city said the Riverwalk project dates back to 2000 when residents approved a bond referendum. Last year, officials cut the ribbon on the final phase of the project, which has cost tens of millions of dollars.
Ben Brasch is the reporter tasked with keeping Fulton County government accountable. The Florida native moved to Atlanta for a job with The AJC. If there's something important to you going on in Fulton, he wants to know about it. Help him better metro Atlanta by dropping a line, anonymously or otherwise.