Built Environments #11: Sidewalks and Playscapes- Bike Trails of the Old 4th Ward

The Old Fourth Ward is rapidly changing. Buildings are going up, businesses are pouring in,  infrastructure is being changed. Some of the infrastructure is being improved, some of it’s just mutating into a grander version of itself. There are plenty of streets that still have the pre-gentrification look to compare the post-gentrification look too.

As usual, I focus on the Built Environments from a public health perspective. That means as I was walking around I was looking at sidewalks and parks and the like and asking myself things like, “can a wheelchair navigate this sidewalk comfortably?” or “people are biking illegally on the sidewalk here, what’s their alternative?” or “what does this space look like at night?” All of those question involved a lot of photos. In the next couple of posts you’ll see a collection of photos taken in the Old Fourth Ward.  I observed these spaces regularly to see how they were used and by whom. Here are some of my observations and maybe you’ll make some on your own.

Let’s start by checking out the bike paths and trails:ImageAccess point to the Freedom Park Trail (Stone Mountain Trail) on Boulevard NE. This area is located right next to a very large apartment complex and it’s heavily shaded by the building and by trees. The green space near the trail is often utilized by the apartment dwellers and the surrounding community for dog walking and jogging. It’s also got bikers on it pretty frequently. It usually doesn’t have kids or people playing or picnicking in the grass. It does occasionally have people panhandling or sleeping in the area.

ImageThis is another entrance to the Freedom Park Trail. It’s located on John Wesley Dobbs NE, it’s about a block from the entrance in the first photo. This grassy area is on the other side of the apartment complex. This section is less shaded and after a heavy rain it experiences drainage problems. People without dogs don’t seem to use these areas very much. Like any area that is heavily utilized by dog owners those who leave the trail are at risk for stepping in dog feces.

ImageThis is an overhead view of a segment of the Freedom Park Trail. This segment runs underneath Randolph Street NE and Highland Avenue NE. This area is more heavily used in the daytime. I believe that its usage is limited to the daytime due to its seclusion and its poor lighting.

ImageEdgewood Avenue Northeast has a bike path the runs between vehicle traffic and the sidewalk. It give adequate space for people who aren’t comfortable riding on the street. Beyond this point the bike lane stops abruptly at which point bikers must merge and share a lane with vehicles. Unfortunately, the bike lane on Edgewood is often being used by cars as parking spaces. The utilization of bike lanes by cars is dangerous. It forces bikers out of their lane and into faster moving vehicle traffic. At which point, if you’re an inexperienced biker or just having an unlucky day, you very well may be injured. People using businesses along Edgewood are the most frequent violators. There is free parking on the side streets, but it seems as if the prospect of having to walk a block or two to a destination is too much to bear for some.ImageThis section of bike path is also located on Edgewood Avenue NE. It is frequently used by the proprietors of businesses at the Dynamic Metal Lofts as parking space. There is free parking available along the street not even a block from this space. This section of Edgewood is less congested and the cars travel at slower speeds. It is utilized by commuters and by families biking on weekends.

ImageThis is an entrance of the Eastside Trail of the Atlanta Beltline. It is accessible from John Wesley Dobbs. This trail sees heavy usage. The usage includes biking, skating, jogging, walking, and dog walking. It is notably racially, economically, and age diverse.

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