DUNWOODY, Ga. — Plans to improve bike and pedestrian connectivity around Georgia State University’s Dunwoody campus may cost the city more than originally expected.

In March 2019, the City Council approved a $790,000 contact to construct sidewalk and bicycle lanes on Tilly Mill Road between the campus and North Peachtree Road. Prolonged negotiations between the city’s sidewalk contractors, Georgia Development Partners, and Georgia Power delayed work on the project.

At its June 1 meeting, the council unanimously approved increasing the amount available for the project to $850,000, reflecting an updated contract with Georgia Development Partners. The costs of the project are covered by sales tax revenue, mostly left over from previous years.

Staff noted surplus funds from the Roberts Drive improvement project could cover additional costs. The Tilly Mill project is expected to begin construction this month and be completed next spring. The new sidewalk and bike lane will complete a half mile of connectivity from Womack Road to North Peachtree.

In other business at the June 1 meeting, the council continued its discussion on allowing bicyclists of all ages to ride on sidewalks.

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.

Dunwoody does not have such an ordinance, but at a May 11 meeting, Councilman Joe Seconder kicked off a conversation for making a change.

The draft ordinance presented June 1 would allow bicyclists of all ages to ride on sidewalks on roads with speed limits greater than 25 miles per hour and where no physically separated bicycle facilities exist.

The ordinance would require bicyclists, skateboarders and roller skaters to yield right of way to pedestrians, give an audible signal before passing a pedestrian, and not ride in a manner that would constitute an unreasonable danger to other travelers.

Seconder pointed out that a public awareness campaign of these rules and bicycle courtesy would be essential.

Councilman Jim Riticher requested that the ban on bicycling on sidewalks with roads less than 25 miles per hour be removed, saying it would create confusion and that some slow roads still have heavy vehicle traffic.

Councilman Tom Lambert agreed with Riticher’s suggestion and raised a question about who has the right-of-way when a car is pulling out of a driveway. The city staff said that would be clarified by the next meeting.

One public commenter spoke in favor of the amendment.

“First of all, I’m in complete support of the complete streets plan that the City Council has been working on for a number of years,” David Bolocan said. “I’ve seen a lot of improvement there. I think this amendment would support the complete streets plan.”

Carson Cook is an Editor with Appen Media Group and covers Johns Creek, Dunwoody and Fulton County.

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