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BikeAthens supports the Complete Streets Policy for Athens, Ga

BikeAthens Letter in Support of Complete Streets

 

 

 

 

Mayor and Commissioners:

As Athens’ dedicated pedestrian, transit, and cycling advocacy group, BikeAthens is excited that you are
on the verge of passing the Athens-Clarke County Complete Streets Policy. We have reviewed the
Policy and polled our membership, and we all agree that this Policy is a great first step towards creating
a dynamic, comprehensive, and interconnected transportation network. Once it is adopted, the
Complete Streets Policy will make local roads safer and more accessible for all citizens of Athens.
On the eve of tomorrow’s vote, BikeAthens has a few minor comments and suggestions we think will
strengthen the Policy and make it a more clear and effective document. First, BikeAthens believes
Section 2 should be amended to read, “Complete Street improvements that are consistent with freight
mobility but also support other modes shall be considered on these streets.” The Complete Streets
Policy already, inherently, balances the needs of all users in a context-sensitive manner. As a result, the
Policy intrinsically considers the needs and importance of freight mobility. Adding obligatory language—
“shall”—to Section 2 will guarantee that planners and designers consider Complete Streets
improvements that are consistent with freight. It will not compel the inclusion of such improvements;
but it will ensure that “Roadway projects shall accommodate all users of the transportation system.”
Second, BikeAthens would like to see the first sentence of Exemption 8 clarified to reflect the Planning
Department’s explanation that the Exemption is only to be invoked in unusual or extraordinary
circumstances, such as repairing damage after an extreme weather event. The Exemption could read:
“The safety or timing of a project is compromised by the inclusion of Complete Streets, such as in the
case of a storm or other natural disaster.” Again, this more specific language is consistent with the
Planning Department’s interpretation of the Exemption. It is also in accordance with the goals and
purpose of the Policy as a whole.
Finally, the Planning Department has indicated the second sentence of Exemption 8 is meant to be read
as a separate Exemption. For the purpose of clarity, BikeAthens would like that change reflected in the
final document. Similarly, we would like to see language inserted to clarify that all exemptions “must be
documented with supporting data and must be approved by the Transportation and Public Works
Director.” As currently written, the level of support needed for an exemption seems to apply only to this
final exemption, but not the others. Making such a change to the language would be consistent with the
stated Ideal Complete Streets Policy, which “makes any exceptions specific and sets a clear procedure
that requires high-level approval of exceptions.” (Emphasis in original)
The entire BikeAthens membership is thrilled that the Athens-Clarke County government is about to
pass a Complete Streets Policy. We hope you share our enthusiasm for the Policy and will vote in favor
of its adoption on December 4 th . Complete Streets are safe streets. Complete Streets are healthy
streets. Complete Streets are vibrant streets.
Thank you for your time and consideration,

Tyler Dewey, Executive Director BikeAthens
BikeAthens Board of Directors
Members of BikeAthens

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