Even when the Atlanta BeltLine is complete it will never be safe to ride a bike on:
If any of you have ridden on the Silver Comet on a nice weekend, you know that the first 10 miles are like a minefield of people, good look finding that narrow window where you could move left and pass 10 people and three strollers. As a cyclist that congestion isn’t worth wasting your time or risking your safety, so you either start at Florence Road or you’re wheels down as the sun rises, with the later you’d catch all those people though.
The same problem will plague the completed BeltLine, only it’ll be worse than the Comet because of the popularity it has within the Perimeter. If you’ve ever been on the Eastside BeltLine on even days with somewhat decent weather you would already see it in action. I remember when I was working at Ponce City Market in 2015 was bike commuting twice a week, I was better off going into work early under the cover of darkness then showing up at the normal office start time.
Kids and dogs are unpredictable creatures, you never know when one will hook a hard left and walk directly in front of your path. Adults aren’t much better, most are pretty oblivious to their surroundings and never look over their shoulder when they’ll be crossing over or turning around.
You’d think that because the trail would be all connected that you’d have a lot better pedestrian flow because you don’t have all these fragmented segments with their own start and end points, but the reality is it’s not bike friendly. It wasn’t meant to be that way, I know because the founder of this project was a Georgia Tech Master of Architecture and Urban Planning student and this was his master thesis and I took the time several years ago to review the entire thing. It actually designates areas of low income housing as a requirement, but that isn’t happening and neighborhoods have started to gentrify as result.
I love coming into town to go for a run on the BeltLine and look forward to its completion so I can do long runs there as a nice change of pace to my usual hunting grounds. But as a cyclist? It’s turned into a no fly zone for me because of the ever present element of unpredictability pedestrians bring to the equation.