On Sunday, Sept. 29, from 2:30–6:30 p.m., the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition will draw attention to the opportunity to make Cascade Avenue safer by activating 3.4 miles along Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard, from Cascade Avenue to Georgia Avenue.

The Atlanta Streets Alive program aims to highlight the need for safer street design and infrastructure improvements—the Southwest route specifically calls attention to the deprioritization of the Cascade Avenue Complete Streets project by Renew Atlanta.

The road will be closed to motorized traffic, with designated car crossings at every major intersection on the route. The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition has invited the public to join the movement that’s transforming Atlanta streets into healthy, safe places where civic pride and community thrive.

“We’re excited to return to Southwest Atlanta, especially as we continue advocating for improvements along the Cascade corridor,” said Atlanta Streets Alive program manager Heather Luyk. “Since Renew Atlanta’s decision to defund a stretch of the road, we’ve worked to raise awareness about the dangers residents and people commuting along this roadway face, simply because of poor street design.

“September 29 is a day to celebrate and enjoy the streets as a public, safe place for all, and also educate participants about the hazards people face every day while simply trying to get to work or run errands,” Luyk added.

Participants can expect activity hubs and free family-friendly programming along the 3.4-mile stretch, including an effort to break the world record for the longest electric slide, eight concert stages along the route provided by Music in the Park and as many as 60 activations along the stretch.

The official opening of the street and lineup for the kickoff parade will take place at 2 p.m. on Cascade Avenue at Donnelly Avenue.

By taking cars out of the equation for an afternoon, Atlanta Streets Alive organizers plan to reclaim city streets as public space where participants can safely walk, bike, and roll while socializing and enjoying stress-free access to local businesses and other community destinations.

Along Cascade Avenue, there exists a disproportionate number of High-Injury Network (HIN) streets in southwest Atlanta and Cascade Avenue is sandwiched between two—Cascade Road and Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard.

City streets with the highest concentration of severe injuries and deaths caused by traffic collisions—with an emphasis on crashes involving people walking and bicycling—make up the HIN.

Residents and people that commute along these roads are most vulnerable to severe or deadly outcomes. Increased awareness is needed to urge the city to address the safety conditions on Cascade Avenue due to its proximity to two HIN streets.

Earlier this year, a long-time resident of the Cascade area, 52-year-old David Gordon, was struck and killed by a driver while crossing the road in a crosswalk on Cascade Avenue.

“My kids go to school less than a mile from where a longtime resident was killed crossing the street,” said Wykeisha Howe, PTA Parent, Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy Elementary School. “Two years ago, we participated in a ‘Safe Routes to School Audit’ documenting unsafe street conditions.

“The City knows Cascade’s a dangerous road,” she added. “The City knows someone died walking here. They know drivers speed on this street, but do they even care?”

Once a boosting 9.1 miles stretch of road that was originally a Native American Trial turned into Sandtown Road, is now one of our most historic streets in the City of Atlanta, Cascade Ave/ Road.

After, years of vibrant living within the neighboring communities along Cascade Ave/Rd has now become the center of transportation reform. Cascade Road/Avenue is a critical corridor that serves dozens of Southwest Atlanta neighborhoods — and it’s one of Atlanta’s most dangerous streets on High-Injury Network.

The Renew Atlanta Bond approved by voters in 2015 was supposed to address this unsafe corridor by making it a Complete Street. According to Smart Growth America, Complete Streets are roads with safe spaces for people in all modes of transportation, whether they are walking, biking or scooting, and driving.

Thanks to the persistent work of community leaders and local advocates, in March 2019 funding was secured for Cascade Road in District 11 to become a Complete Street. This project will improve access to the Cascade Springs Nature Preserve and create safer streets for biking, walking and driving.

However, the Complete Street for Cascade Avenue east of Avon, near Kroger Citi Center and the BeltLine, was not funded. Instead, Cascade Ave was funded for a resurfacing project.

Failing to fund the entire Complete Street project perpetuates concerns about the concentration of unsafe streets in Southwest Atlanta and inequitable outcomes in its transportation network. Repaving will speed up traffic on an already dangerous corridor, advocates say.

Many residents have called for the City of Atlanta to create a safer Cascade through the resurfacing project, by reducing the number of lanes—also known as a road diet—and lane widths; both are proven ways to reduce motor vehicle speeds with the addition of installing safer crossings, including a safer crosswalk near the crosswalk where David Gordon was killed, to ensure drivers see people crossing and stop in time.

In May, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition rallied alongside Southwest Atlanta residents for low-cost safety measures to address conditions on the roadway after funding for the planned Complete Street project was cut by Renew Atlanta.

Luyk explained that the opportunity to host Atlanta Streets Alive: Southwest on this route provides a greater opportunity to inform people living in the surrounding neighborhoods.

It also allows organizers to elevate the message among the broader Atlanta community that may not have direct ties to the area, but care about safe streets for all.

Planning the Atlanta Streets Alive: Southwest program started with community engagement and rallying support from residents in the area, according to Luyk. The outreach efforts are special and reminiscent of the work initiated for the inaugural Atlanta Streets Alive program in 2010.

With higher rates of walking and transit usage among people in the neighborhoods surrounding the route, forging partnerships with community members was critical for this particular open streets initiative.

(Photo: STEVE EBERHARDT / ATLANTA BICYCLE COALITION)

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