Downtown Connects for Saporta Report
We have now surpassed the six-month mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, and our world looks a lot different now than it did back in March. You don’t have to travel all the way to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to see the dramatic impact of the coronavirus on Atlanta’s transportation network.
During the pandemic’s early months, when details about COVID-19’s transmission were largely unknown and PPE was in short supply, transit ridership declined as fewer Atlantans commuted to work. While MARTA never stopped providing service to essential employees along key transit corridors, the pandemic forced transit operators to make significant service cuts. Today, bus service is starting to come back online.
Our roads look different, too. Once full of bumper-to-bumper commuter traffic, roads are experiencing reduced congestion at last—something adding highway lanes alone has never managed to accomplish. Recent survey results from the Atlanta Regional Commission show substantial increases in teleworking, and initial results suggest interest in continuing to work from home remains high. Yet as we learn more about preventing COVID-19 spread and wait until a vaccine becomes widely available, commute trips will resume, and without intervention, more people will be turning to cars as their preferred transportation solution.
Metro Atlanta is still growing—last projected to add 2.9 million residents by 2050. As more commuters begin to return to work, our roads do not have capacity to accommodate a major uptick in drive-alone trips. With transit ridership expected to take a while to rebound, what is the solution to keeping our city and region moving?
Bikes are critical to Atlanta’s transportation future. Key partnerships between the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, Community Improvement Districts, and others are advancing new bike infrastructure and road safety through programs like Vision Zero and free City Cycling classes. Central Atlanta Progress (CAP), in partnership with the City of Atlanta, is hard at work on a new Piedmont Avenue bike lane to connect Downtown and Midtown.
We have already seen a cycling renaissance throughout the pandemic with unprecedented bike sales and numbers of people hitting the streets on two wheels. Building upon this momentum, our organization is excited to partner with Georgia Commute Options during the month of October to celebrate Biketober – The Atlanta Bike Challenge. Biketober is a fun and free competition to encourage you, your friends, family, and coworkers to experience firsthand the joys and benefits of riding a bike.
Biketober is a virtual challenge, which means it’s easy to take part in a safe and socially distanced way. Register at ATLBikeChallenge.com and then compete on a team with coworkers or friends or as an individual. There are many benefits of participating in Biketober, including staying healthy, improving our environment, and competing for prizes. However, this year’s Biketober is more than just a fun challenge. It’s a chance to connect with our coworkers who many of us haven’t seen in months. It’s an opportunity to give our minds a break from the stress of this time. It’s an opportunity to get out of the house and stretch our legs. And it’s a pivotal moment to reclaim our streets and set the stage for the future of mobility in Atlanta.