DUNWOODY, Ga. — The Dunwoody City Council unanimously passed a code change June 15 that allows bicyclists on sidewalks.
The council also discussed the Georgetown Gateway Project and Sidewalk Improvement Program, two ongoing projects intended to improve pedestrian connectivity.
Georgia law only allows bicycles to travel on sidewalks if the rider is 12 years old or younger. However, city ordinances can supersede the state law if cities choose to allow older bicyclist, City Attorney Bill Riley explained.
Now, Dunwoody has such an ordinance, which also allows roller skates and skateboards, provided riders follow certain guidelines. Riders of any age must yield right of way to pedestrians, give an audible signal before passing other travelers, and ride in a manner that does not constitute an unreasonable danger to others.
In other business at the meeting, the council reviewed the Georgetown Gateway Project , a collection of infrastructure and aesthetic improvements to the area along Chamblee Dunwoody Road from Cotillion Drive to Peeler Road. It includes extending an existing multiuse path; improving sidewalks; and adding landscaping, trees and pedestrian lighting.
The bulk of the project’s funding, about $5.2 million, comes from federal grants, with DeKalb County contributing $566,000 to upgrade a watermain and the remaining cost coming from city dollars. The lowest bid for the project came in at $6.1 million.
“The project bid is well within our available funding,” Public Works Director Michael Smith said. “We’re ready to go, but utility relocation is a major task on this project.”
Because of the utility demands, Smith said, it will likely be another two years before construction begins, with completion in 2024.
At the same June 15 meeting, the council discussed expanding the scope of its Sidewalk Improvement Project. In 2010, the council approved a plan that ranked the city’s main roads by their need for sidewalks.
Since the plan was approved, the city has constructed 11 miles of sidewalks and has about 10 miles still to be completed. When the project began, the city had 65 miles of existing sidewalk.
“When this program is completed, the city should have sidewalks on both sides of all the major, arterial and collector roads in the city,” Smith said. “Except in a few special cases on school walking routes, this project does not include neighborhood streets.”
The city carried over a DeKalb County program where neighborhoods could work with the city to self-fund sidewalk construction, but it has never been pursued, Smith said. Now, the city is considering expanding the scope of its sidewalk plan to include neighborhood streets.
“Just to put it in perspective, there are about 20 miles of centerline miles of collector and arterial roads in the city, and there’s 125 miles of neighborhood streets,” Smith said. “When you start talking about going into neighborhoods, the scope can grow pretty quickly.”
Smith presented a preliminary prioritization of neighborhood roads. Proximity to schools, parks and MARTA bus routes ranked a street higher on the list. Routes that would connect gaps between existing sidewalks, see a high volume of vehicle traffic and do not have steep slopes or other issues that would make construction difficult were also ranked more favorably.
Even applying these standards, it would take decades to build out all those sidewalks at the current rate of funding, Smith said.
The Public Works Department proposed continuing to focus on arterial and collector roads, but also develop a separate program for neighborhood roads with some funding directed toward it. The department also suggested a program to allow residents to provide partial funding to move up the timeline on their sidewalk project if it met certain criteria.
The council had some suggestions for improving the ranking criteria, but generally were receptive to the department’s proposal.