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  • 2020



Historically “car-centric” Atlanta has made notable improvements in the Walkability indicator in recent years, leap-frogging Tampa Bay and other markets to achieve a #7 ranking in this year’s report.


Walk.Bike.Thrive! is the Atlanta Regional Commission’s ambitious regional bicycle and pedestrian plan, designed to make the city safer for human-powered transport. With a dedicated budget of $1.8 billion to be utilized over 25 years, planning leaders are implementing a variety of actionable strategies to achieve a vision for a more walkable, bikeable, and livable metro Atlanta region.

“It probably sounds too big to say, ‘We want to start changing that history of suburban sprawl across metro Atlanta,’ but we want to make a dent in that—where it makes sense and where the opportunities show themselves. Maybe we can’t tackle all those 30-mile commutes from one side of the metro to the other, but it could be a situation where kids can start riding or walking to school, or people can walk to their community’s Main Street. We’re trying to meet people in the communities they’re at right now.”

– Byron Rushing, Bicycling & Walking Program Manager, Atlanta Regional Commission


Metropolitan Atlanta is one of the largest, most dispersed, and most car-dependent regions in the nation. But in the past decade, the region has also seen the nation’s largest growth in bike commuting (from 2000-2010), embarked on the nation’s largest urban trail project, and responded to suburban communities that are increasingly demanding walkable communities, better transit, and more bicycling amenities.

In 2015, in conjunction with its Atlanta metro long-range plan, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) completed a regional walking and bicycling plan titled “Walk.Bike.Thrive!,” which crafts a vision for a more walkable, bikeable and livable metropolitan Atlanta.

The Walk.Bike.Thrive! plan focuses on supporting active communities, complete streets, vibrant places and regional trails. It also emphasizes first- and last-mile connections to regional transit systems to improve the mobility, safety, equity, health and economy for everyone in the region.

Total funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure is projected to be $1.8 billion through 2040. The plan includes funding for the completion of the regional trail network, as well as for other regionally significant pedestrian, bicycle, trail and transit-access projects. The money will also be used to help many of the smaller cities within the Atlanta metro area become more pedestrian and bike friendly.

According to Walk.Bike.Thrive! research, a full third of Atlanta residents live within a five-minute bike ride of a transit stop, but only 0.3% of people ride their bikes to and from transit stops. In response, ARC recently rolled out a plan to improve active transportation connections to transit hubs for residents that live and work within that five-minute radius.

Though a city built around car travel is unlikely to shift overnight, planning leaders believe that nuanced changes in communities can encourage more people to walk and bike. Planners also noted the opportunity for Atlanta’s sprawling region to reorganize around neighborhood and city centers, crossed by high-quality bike infrastructure and trails. These ideas have helped spark discussion locally, regionally, and nationally about how sprawling mega-regions can start to build more sustainable transportation networks that work for a variety of trip distances and purposes.