Controversy erupts when Atlanta leaders seek to ban right turns on red lights at busy intersections

Pedestrian safety is a priority in Atlanta, Georgia, where city leaders are looking at banning drivers in busy neighborhoods from making right turns on red lights.

Atlanta City Council members Jason Dozier and Amir Farokhi introduced the legislation “to enhance pedestrian safety in Downtown, Midtown, and Castleberry Hill,” Dozier wrote on X. “Our proposed ban on turning at red lights aims to prioritize the well-being of pedestrians at intersections.”


“According to the ordinance, which 11 council members signed on to, those three neighborhoods are home to several cultural attractions, businesses, and homes, and bring in many pedestrians,” Fox 5 Atlanta reports.

“Research shows that restricting right turns on red can significantly reduce accidents involving pedestrians,” Dozier wrote. “By taking this proactive step, we’re committed to creating safer streets and fostering a more walkable urban environment.”

“Our city thrives when everyone can move about confidently and securely,” he continued. “The proposed ban is a strategic measure to address intersection safety concerns and contribute to a more sustainable, pedestrian-friendly Atlanta.”

In December, Propel ATL, a group dedicated to “transforming Atlanta’s streets into safe, inclusive, and thriving spaces for people to ride, walk, and roll,” announced that its executive director, Rebecca Serna, was appointed by the City of Atlanta “to a commission to review all fatal vehicle collisions on the city’s surface streets.”

According to the group’s data, “38 pedestrians lost their lives in crashes in 2022, an increase of 23% when compared to 2021’s numbers,” Fox 5 reports. Furthermore, Propel ATL found that half of Atlanta’s fatal pedestrian crashes and 60% of the city’s total pedestrian and bicycle crashes occur on just 10% of Atlanta’s streets.

“We’ve seen a 50% increase in pedestrian deaths since 2020, and 38 pedestrians died on Atlanta’s streets last year as a consequence,” Dozier told Fox News Digital in an emailed statement.

“When cars are allowed to turn at red lights, they typically creep into crosswalks, with drivers looking only for oncoming cars rather than pedestrians or cyclists,” he explained. “Even worse, vehicle sizes have ballooned over the last 20 years, so even if a driver were looking for a pedestrian, bigger blind spots and narrower sight lines make it difficult to see them. Crosswalks represent some of the very little space that our cities afford pedestrians, and this legislation attempts to protect that space.”

“Even though we talk about this legislation in terms of motorists and pedestrians, this is a people-centered policy aimed at keeping people safe, particularly our most vulnerable residents,” Dozier said.

“People want to be where they feel safe, and something as simple as making it easier for families to cross the street goes a long way towards creating a culture and community centered on safety,” he continued. “This is especially important for our local businesses as higher foot traffic leads to higher sales and revenues. Businesses thrive where people want to be. We saw this in real-time during the pandemic as businesses moved dining areas out onto sidewalks or into reclaimed parking spaces. Walkability is not only good for people, but it’s good for our local economies, and this legislation encourages that.”

On X, many are cheering the proposed ordinance.

“Amazing stuff!” exclaimed one user. “Great work!”

Others were less enthused.

“I assume you will outlaw cars next,” one user told Dozier. “Probably a good next step since this will only make traffic worse ….SMH.”

 

Melissa Fine

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