Posted by Rashard Smith, ATLANTA, GA – I’ve lived in a numbers of areas in and around Atlanta and it’s certainly not a pedestrian friendly place. But I don’t know if I’ve been in another urban area where sidewalks just end even where there are bus stops. So people waiting for buses have to stand by a bus stop sign that literally is less than a foot from ongoing traffic. In places where sidewalks abruptly end, pedestrians are forced to walk on the curves of sometimes very busy streets. In other words the city and metropolitan area of Atlanta is designed for people with cars, not for those who are dependent on walking, biking, or public transit.
Like downtown and midtown Atlanta, nearby places like downtown Stone Mountain, East Point, College Park, Hapeville have sidewalks and are heavily posted with signs of caution for pedestrians such as yellow pedestrian signage, pedestrian crosswalks, bright orange markings on corners of the intersections, small pedestrian markers located on the double yellow lines in the middle of the street, and even flashing lights which hang above the street to warn drivers of pedestrian crossings. There are even designated bike lanes to make the road momentarily friendly for bicyclists.
Yet if you were to venture not too far away from these downtown areas the pedestrian-friendly amenities simply vanish; sidewalks suddenly stop and you’ll begin to see dirt paths alongside the roads where citizens trek either by foot or bicycle to get to a bus stop or store. It’s dangerous and not uncommon to hear about pedestrian accidents and fatalities provoked by careless drivers. It’s particular bad in poor minority areas putting these residents at a complete disadvantage when it comes to the public safety.
Although the city will be getting a brand new stadium, a streetcar trolley, as well as continuing to develop the Beltline that consists of a series of pedestrian and biker-friendly paths circling around the city, what the city and metro area really need is more sidewalks that don't just end.
Rashard Smith is a Georgia State University undergraduate majoring in Sociology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.