As the city grows, Atlanta will have to address Buckhead’s “shortcomings,” including sprawl and threats to the tree canopy, Tim Keane, the Department of City Planning commissioner, said at a Buckhead Business Association breakfast July 27.
While many cities have grid road systems with high density, much of Atlanta is more spread out, including Buckhead. Buckhead urban development is instead spread along one “spine,” Peachtree Road, with neighborhoods and tree canopy running alongside it, Keane said.
“We will have to be protective of both those environments,” he said.
To grow sustainably, more than just Buckhead, Midtown and Downtown will have to be developed, but Atlanta has to encourage that while also protecting neighborhoods, Keane said. People will need to move into other areas of the city than those currently seeing the majority of development, but protecting the tree canopy in neighborhoods is also vitally important, he said.
Keane, who has been serving as the commissioner for two years, is leading the effort to create the “Atlanta Transportation Plan” to guide the city as the population may rise from half a million to a projected 1.3 million. The plan will provide a guide for how to get more people using transit or alternative transportation, as the roads won’t be able support more drivers.
“We are on the threshold of a period of change gives an opportunity to shape the city we haven’t had in a long time,” Keane said.
Even though the city is growing and more people are projected to move to Atlanta, that doesn’t mean congestion has to get worse, Keane said.
“This notion that a growing city is a less mobile one is not correct,” Keane said.
Cities can, and have, grown without becoming completely gridlocked, Keane said, but do to that, the city needs a future to work toward. The plan will provide a guidebook for the future that all city departments can use to work toward an Atlanta people will want to move to, he said.
Another priority is continuing to expand the city’s Relay Bike Share system, which was recently expanded from 100 to 500 bikes in April, Keane said. Keane hopes to soon bring that number to 1,000 bikes, not only helping more use cycling as an alternative form of transportation, but also making cycling in the city safer, he said.
“One thing that makes cycling safer is having more cyclists,” he said.
Some bikes installed during the next expansion may also be electric bikes, which use power to assist cyclists, Keane said.