Decatur candidates weigh in on street calming

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt October 30, 2015
W. Ponce De Leon Avenue. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

W. Ponce De Leon Avenue. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

Petitioners advocating for slower speeds and safer conditions for pedestrians have asked candidates running for Decatur City Commission how they feel about the issue.

Chris De Pree and Tonio Andrade, who recently called for reconsideration of a bike lanes project on Commerce Drive, are pushing a new petition for calming of South Candler Street.

“It seems that over the past few weeks, candidates for the city commission seats have been getting quite a few questions and comments about street calming, which seems to be one of the major issues in the election,” Andrade. “So we decided to ask for statements about street calming from the four commissioner candidates on the ballot in southern Decatur (Brian Smith, James Johnson, Tony Powers, and John Ridley). Three of them provided statements.”

Andrade provided a copy of the statements to Decaturish.


BRIAN SMITH (Running for District 2 Seat)

As an avid runner and cyclist, I have always understood the importance of road safety, and how good planning can create transportation solutions that make the roads safer for bicycles, pedestrians and drivers. As a father whose kids bike and walk regularly to WPES from our house west of South Candler, I am particularly concerned with making South Candler (and other WP streets) safer for everyone. In fact, I am so concerned about the safety of my kids crossing South Candler when walking to WPES, I go out of my way each morning and cross South Candler at East Dougherty Street (rather than crossing at Green St., Bucher Drive, etc.) where I believe the crossing is safer than other parts of South Candler.

As a City Commissioner there are a few things I believe the City should explore as it relates to South Candler and other streets around WP. First, speed limits across the City need to be strictly enforced. In order to do achieve this we need to work with GDOT to designate streets such as South Candler as residential streets (if possible). Next, I am in favor of installing traffic calming measures in a few sections of South Candler to make the street safer. Traffic calming measures, such as those seen on College Avenue in front of Agnes Scott, should be explored for the intersections of South Candler/East Davis or South Candler/Bucher Drive to make these crossing safer. Additionally, we need to find ways to slow down vehicular traffic on South Candler between the intersections of South Candler/Midway Road and South Candler/Pharr Road as cars continue to speed in/out of Decatur down this stretch despite the road being reduced from four lanes to three. Finally, we should continually explore how to improve intersections, which are statistically the most dangerous areas, to make them safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. For example, we need to improve the pedestrian and vehicular sightlines at some of the following intersections – South Candler/Bucher Drive, South Candler/Kirk Road, etc. As a WP resident and parent I applaud those involved in the Calm Candler initiative and I look forward to working with everyone to make South Candler safer if elected as your City Commissioner.”
JAMES JOHNSON (Running for District 2 Seat):
Did not provide a statement.

TONY POWERS (running for At Large Seat):

I fully support city wide traffic calming measures. It is imperative to be pro-active as we now have more cars on the road, as well as bikers, walkers, and joggers. Possible solutions include bike lanes, slower speed limits, speed bumps, traffic circles and narrowing the streets at places to slow down drivers. Additionally, I would like to further explore with GDoT and our DeKalb delegation the HAWK crosswalk system that is currently used in the county. I have attended a number of presentations to the city on traffic calming issues and applaud the Calm Candler group for their efforts to make our city a safer place. We must be relentless when dealing with the GA Department of Transportation on issues involving state roads, like Candler, as many of the measures we have submitted are held up awaiting approval. Thank you for your work and I look forward to working together in the future to make our roads safer.

JOHN RIDLEY (running for At Large Seat):

I share the concerns of Calm Candler. I have learned in the last two months of campaigning city-wide how common Calm Candler’ s concerns are throughout the city. My perspective is that this a management problem with the City of Decatur staff. The safety issues are similar city wide. Simple and inexpensive efforts like installing and maintaining highly visible traffic control signs, freshly painted cross walks and traffic directional signage, and textured brightly colored crosswalks could be done easily and immediately. We also need some more strategically placed HAWK pedestrian crossings.

In a study conducted by the USDOT Federal Highway Administration ( ) HAWK implementation results were as follows:

– There was a 29 percent reduction in total crashes, which is statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level.

– There was a 69 percent reduction in pedestrian crashes, which is statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level.

– There was a 15 percent reduction in severe crashes, which is not statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level.

The prime objective of a HAWK is to provide pedestrians with safe crossing opportunities. As such, a reduction in pedestrian crashes would be expected to be associated with the HAWK, and a statistically significant reduction in pedestrian crashes was found. The installation of the HAWK was also found to be associated with a statistically significant reduction in total crashes. It should be noted that the HAWK treatment, just like any other warning traffic control device, may not work as effectively if it is overused.

Decatur needs immediate action, not excuses about GDOT. The City Commission should instruct the City staff to bring to the Commission an implementation plan and schedule worked out with citizens within 30 days for a hearing and approval as modified by additional community input. It’s time for responsive and publicly accountable City Government. Its time for a city-wide elected Mayor.


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