Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Opportunity Knocking - Transportation Growing Pains

John's blog has a new article today about a severe wipeout on North Peachtree Rd this past Friday, near Kingsley Lake.

A week doesn't go by without hearing someone complain about traffic and the dangers thereof.  You have speeding everywhere, most notably on North Peachtree (commuters getting to/from 285) Tilly Mill (students at GPC) Womack Road (ditto) and on Roberts Road (commuters cutting through to 400).  Local neighborhoods (like Village Mill) have had to make modifications to keep traffic and speed down and they get very sensitive when cars start backing up or parking on their streets.  (Like when Dunwoody High was being renovated.)

Add to this the MARTA bus stop at Tilly Mill and Womack where riders heading to class jaywalk around the bus to get to the building sooner.  Right where other students may be speeding in their cars.  Someone's going to get killed there.

It's getting even more complicated:  there is now a greater push to rebuild the streets so pedestrians and bike riders can make better use of them.  However - who remembers what all the "rules of the road" are for pedestrians and bikes as well as for cars?  I'll bet money a lot of people either flat out don't know or misunderstand them.  Then you have a subset of pedestrians and bicyclists who think that because they may have the "right of way" they can defy the laws of physics by venturing out too close to an approaching car.  There's an effort to incorporate different kinds of transportation on the streets but what kind of effort is there to fully integrate them safely?

Finally, "Dunwoody" is not just the 48,000 people counted in the last Census.  During the day, the population is up around 110,000 at least.  That's people who come in to work, go to school, worship, use recreational facilities (including the JCC), socialize, and just drive through.  Any effort at preventing accidents before they happen has to include that larger community.  Dunwoody groups and blogs - including John's post above - isn't going to get out to the majority of the people who need to hear it. 

So how do we do it?

Enforcement is a big part.  I'll leave that one on Chief Grogan's desk, he understands that process better than I ever will. 

Basic PR outreach to all of our organizations - especially those that cater to a large number of regular "out of towners" like GPC - is also critical.  The City is going to have to partner with the organizations in town to get info into people's heads about staying safe on the roads.  GPC, all houses of worship, the JCC, and the CVB and Chamber of Commerce.   I'll even start you off:  "Drive Safe in Dunwoody".   If you must, drag one of the "Smart" phrases out of the branding style guide - "Smart Commute" could be reinterpreted for a campaign.  "Smart Travelling" would work too. 

Get local businesses behind a "safe roads" ad campaign and position it as a win-win for everybody.  Make it part of one of the usual fairs (Music Fest, Lemonade Days, 4th of July, Art Fest, etc etc etc) or create a new festival or fair.  I'd suggest one at GPC where there are plenty of games and opportunities to win free stuff.   The college kids will flock to it.  Bottom line, create a fun and social event designed to inform attendees about the rules of the road.  Interested businesses could offer up freebies, contests, or even merch for sale.  Imagine Sports Authority selling workout wear and sneakers.  Auto Zone showing off the latest car rims.  That bike shop in Roswell (I think it's Roswell?) displaying the latest models.  Even MARTA could try to promote its bus routes for school and work.  Even local gas stations, car washes, and auto shops could get into the act both advertising and promoting safe driving.  Since parks like Brook Run and the Nature Center see visitors from all over, how about posting signs/literature at their exits, reminding everyone using the road to use caution and know the law.

That's the "off the top of my head" approach.  Get the authoritative final word on what are the rules of the road for multiple types of vehicles and pedestrians.  Step up enforcement.  Make it a full-scale PR/Awareness campaign.  I believe it will be a lot more effective than an obscure "golden sneaker award" that the general populace doesn't care about.

(Bumped to the top - bad timing w/ 9/11. )

1 comment:

Mark said...

Increasing public awareness and understanding of the obligation to share the road with all who may use it is vital. Your suggestions have great merit. My sole transportation is a scooter and I've been using it all over Metro Atlanta and further for a few years. I've been passed and nearly hit by folks running stop signs countless times in Dunwoody. I tend to obey the speed limit and come to a full stop at all indicated stops. Among the reasons why I agree with you about awareness is that things are much better than they were 25 years ago when I was using a motorcycle the same as I use a scooter today. It was much more dangerous back then because there was little to no awareness, and there was aggression. There were actually drivers who deliberately ran me off the road or sought to discomfit me by driving too close. The latter has happened in recent years, but it is rare. A new threat is all the distracted drivers. I recently had to kick an SUV to get the driver's attention when they were veering into my lane. They were close enough that my boot made a dent. They were staring at their phone and had the nerve to get angry with me for acting to protect my life. My horn and screams had no effect and I had nowhere to go with oncoming and surrounding traffic about me. Thank you for bringing attention and suggestions for action to this subject.