Tree Time: Council should copy what worked on Church Street
September 06, 2013 01:22 AM | 1714 views | 1 1 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
More trees for downtown Marietta? Sounds like a no-brainer — and that’s what it should be for the Marietta City Council when it meets this week.

The council last year approved planting trees along the previously sun-baked stretch of Church Street just north of the Square, and also added wider sidewalks and lighting improvements. The $220,000 project funded with 2011 SPLOST dollars has been a big hit with just about everybody.

The council now plans to install more planters on Church northward to Polk Street and also is looking at similar streetscape improvements on other streets downtown that were left out when the city embarked on its big beautification push in the mid-1980s.

The council is considering trees and related improvements on the first blocks or so of Mill Street and Whitlock Avenue west of the Square and Powder Springs Street and Atlanta Street south of the Square. (Mayor Steve Tumlin and Vision 20/20 Committee Chairman Kee Carlisle in a related matter are also proposing to make the streets that circle the Square one-way, and to widen the sidewalks on the blocks that directly face the Square. That might involve reducing the number of traffic lanes, at least on the north side of the Square, and those proposals are apt to be much more controversial.)

All four of the streets under consideration for tree planters (Mill, Whitlock, Atlanta and Powder Springs) have significant foot traffic, especially the first three. Cost might be a consideration, however, as well as the narrowness of the sidewalks along Atlanta and Powder Springs.

As has been obvious since the planting of the initial trees on the sidewalks facing the Square three decades ago, and since the planting of the saplings on Church Street this year, their addition has been a huge benefit to downtown. Not only do they give the area a more inviting look, they also provide deep shade on scorching Georgia summer days and help give downtown a pedestrian-friendly feel.

As Councilman Johnny Sinclair said last week, City Hall is going to have to find a way to eventually do all of the streetscapes because the changes along Church Street have proven so popular.

We would echo that sentiment and add only, “Why has it taken so long already?”

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trees r great
September 06, 2013
Trees are great, and I advocate more trees everywhere. Let's not completely throw the users of the space lost to the planters under the bus, though.

The space for these trees comes from the road lanes, most of it from the formerly very-wide right lane. We did have a nice big space between the parking lane and the traffic lanes where bicyclers could go, allowing those of us in cars to easily pass the bicyclers without changing lanes.

Now with sidewalks expanded for adding planters with trees, the road lanes are pretty tight and there is no extra room between the lanes of travel and the parking lane.

Because of the road space given to sidewalks for tree planters (which, again,is GREAT), passing our bicyclers now means changing lanes at least halfway. That works alright, but some uneducated drivers here in "we sort of educate our drivers a little bit when they are 15 years old but then never again do we require them to learn anything about driving" Georgia will get impatient that the bicyclers are not riding directly alongside the doors of the parking lane (or, worse, on the sidewalk where bicycle riding is illegal for adults by state law).

Bicyclers riding directly alongside parked cars inevitably gets the bicyclers hit by a parked car's road side door being flung open or by a driver pulling a parked car out into the road without ever seeing the bicycler (because they didn't look, but they will say "i never saw them" rather than "i didn't look for them.")

Avoiding "I never saw them" hazards from users of parked cars means Marietta's users of bicycles are riding out in the middle of the lane now in the narrower area on Church street.

To let drivers know of Marietta's new traffic requirement that bicyclers use the whole right lane in the newly planted areas, Marietta needs to paint some Sharrows on the road.

Sharrows are just paint. It's already on hand. It won't cost anything but time. Just go paint some Sharrows on Church Street along the planters and the City of Marietta becomes instantly safer and also instantly more attractive to young professionals having TONS of disposible income (have you SEEN how much those bicycles cost? The cheapest ones run over $1,500!)

Sharrows haven't been around that long, so they cause a lot of drivers to wonder, "what's that thing painted on the road?"

Drivers will see Marietta's sharrows and then ask around and talk to people until they learn what sharrows are. When that happens, people are talking about positive changes in the City of Marietta. When does THAT ever happen????

Marietta could very easily change the conversation from our age old "gripe gripe gripe" to "hey, what is this new thing" while also making everyone on Churct Stret safer.

Wouldn't that be cool.
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