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Atlanta may make some streets pedestrian only

ATLANTA — The City of Atlanta may soon close some streets to vehicles and make those streets pedestrian only. The measure is designed to allow safe social distancing and increased pedestrian flow since fewer cars are on Atlanta’s streets during the coronavirus pandemic and more people are walking.

The Atlanta City Council approved a resolution Monday requesting that the Commissioner of the Atlanta Department of Transportation (ADOT) close select streets and or traffic lanes to vehicular traffic and open them to pedestrians and cyclists. The legislation was approved unanimously.

District 2 Council member Amir Farokhi, who introduced the bill along with Council members Natalyn Archibong of District 5 and Jennifer Ide of District 6, believes that the bill is an important public safety measure amid the ongoing pandemic.

“Traffic is down, walking and biking are up, and folks need more space to move around safely,” Farokhi said. “Opening up select streets for pedestrians and cyclists during the pandemic makes smarter use of our public space and allows for social distancing. This resolution urges our Department of Transportation to act to meet the moment for public safety and enjoyment of the city.”

The bill gives Neighborhood Planning Units the opportunity to weigh in on street closures in their jurisdiction. It also asks that ADOT Commissioner Josh Rowan look for “long-term opportunities to repurpose streets and lanes” beyond the immediate crisis.

“The pandemic presents an opportunity to rethink how we allocate street space and what we want our city experience to be. This opportunity has been embraced by cities near and far, large and small, and, if we are serious about evolving into a city where it’s safer to walk and bike, we should be acting with more urgency and creativity right now,” Farokhi said. “I think we all want a city that’s safe for all of us, especially right now.”

The resolution now moves to the mayor’s desk for her signature.

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