Improving Bicycle and Pedestrian Accessibility across DeKalb Ave Corridor: A GIS Analysis
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Over the course of the mid-twentieth century, the American people rapidly adopted complete automobility as a lifestyle. While this newfound mobility resulted in the post-war economic boom and widespread urbanization, many researchers have since identified several negative externalities associated with this automobile-based existence. During the time that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) have risen, rates of active transportation (ex: biking or walking) have gradually declined; this can be identified as one factor that contributes to the increasingly sedentary lifestyles that are partially responsible for the obesity epidemic. Moreover, widespread automobility has been correlated with higher emission rates and more incidents of traffic fatalities. Due to this, it has been imperative for planners to focus on providing adequate alternatives to driving, such as promoting active transportation modes. One method to do this is by bolstering accessibility through infrastructural improvements. Due to Atlanta’s growth primarily during the post-war suburban boom, the transportation of this region is especially dependent on automobiles. As such, improvements the bicycle and pedestrian accessibility must be carried out throughout the region. An area ripe for such improvements is the corridor along DeKalb Ave, which is severely limited in north-south accessibility due to the fragmentary nature of the railroad and rail yard located there. This rail infrastructure acts as a barrier, restricting movement across the corridor to a set of choke points, most of which are deficient in adequate infrastructure. The accessibility problem here is twofold: 1) there is a lack of north-south connectivity, impeding route selection, and 2) there is insufficient bike/ped infrastructure where the connections do exist. As such, active transportation accessibility across the corridor is significantly limited. In order to recommend improvements for the corridor, a GIS analysis of the area’s street network and active transportation facilities is first conducted. Based on this analysis, an inventory of infrastructure is developed, which is then used to generate a metric that will gauge overall accessibility. Once this has been accomplished, these results are scrutinized in order to identify key areas lacking in sufficient accessibility. A series of recommended actions are then proposed that target these areas, falling into three general phases of increasing intensity: 1) accommodating bicycle and pedestrian accessibility on existing infrastructure, 2) adding a new dedicated bicycle and pedestrian connection, and 3) wholesale redevelopment of the corridor, including CSX’s Hulsey Yard. Finally, the merits and obstacles for implementation of each phase are discussed.