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  1. #1
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    [ATL] Grant Park to Emory, rate my commute...

    I'm moving to Atlanta in a few weeks and I have a route planned to get to my job. If I could get comments on safety, feasibility, better alternatives I would really welcome them. I am an avid commuter already (only been doing it a few years but I think I have close to commuting 10,000 miles under my belt, acquired in the Denver area) and I really think it helps keep sane (compared with driving). So I am pretty stubborn that I WILL commute by bike, just not sure the best way to get from A to B and back.. As far as the start and end points, those are also pretty non-negotiable.
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    As an Atlanta native...

    The 4th ward area & the area of your commute nearing & South of I20 are notoriously high crime areas. Memorial Drive to I20 is generally one of those areas where if you get a flat at night, you dial 911, AAA and load a round in the chamber. Grant park sucks. Get a nice lock... or two. They'll be just okay in the daylight hours.

    I can't really tell exactly what streets you're on, but the North 2/3 of your route should be pretty good for commuting, even though Atlanta isn't the most friendly of cities for cyclists. It's a fun part of town to explore on a bike. The Decatur area is very cycle friendly as is the Freedom Park area. It can be obnoxious to ride there when there are festivals, though.

    On the bright side, there's a PATH that runs from downtown all the way out to Stone Mountain Park on the East side of town & you can pick up the Silver Comet on the Northwest side of town & take that all the way to Birmingham, AL.

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    Surprised, that is the first negative opinion I have heard of Grant Park so far (though you're also the first cyclist to weigh in).

    Do you have any alternate routes that bypass the Memorial / I-20 corridor (etc.)?

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    Senior Member Spoonrobot's Avatar
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    As an Atlanta native...
    I'd question anyone who claims the Silver Comet trail is "on the Northwest side of town." The rest of your post is pretty unhelpful as well.

    Anyway, I've gone ahead and mapped out what I think would be the route I'd take if I had to do your commute. This route is all low-traffic residential, bike-laned or bike-friendly roads.

    To Emory B - Atlanta, GA

    The interior core of Atlanta is generally pretty cycling friendly and an interesting place to ride. I think you'll quickly be able to identify other routes to get to where you're going since there is very good connectivity between bike-friendly roadways in that part of town. The area you'll be living in is like any other metropolitan neighborhood with respect to crime/etc. Don't leave valuables unattended at night and use common sense with respect to personal safety and you'll be fine.

    I'd recommend becoming familiar with the MARTA services along your route as well. The bus line is fairly extensive and all buses have storage for at least two bikes.

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    Senior Member lsberrios1's Avatar
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    As a Non Atlanta native, hope you have a good sturdy set of wheels for the roads down there. This is going ot sound a little A-holish but every time I go down to that area is like riding on the moon.. I have no desire to destroy my nice wheels. I guess in a sense you are lucky you can commute to work by bike. I have to sit in traffic . However for training and leisure, can't beat North GA!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
    Anyway, I've gone ahead and mapped out what I think would be the route I'd take if I had to do your commute. This route is all low-traffic residential, bike-laned or bike-friendly roads.

    To Emory B - Atlanta, GA

    The interior core of Atlanta is generally pretty cycling friendly and an interesting place to ride. I think you'll quickly be able to identify other routes to get to where you're going since there is very good connectivity between bike-friendly roadways in that part of town. The area you'll be living in is like any other metropolitan neighborhood with respect to crime/etc. Don't leave valuables unattended at night and use common sense with respect to personal safety and you'll be fine.

    I'd recommend becoming familiar with the MARTA services along your route as well. The bus line is fairly extensive and all buses have storage for at least two bikes.
    Thanks a bunch! This is basically what I was looking for. It does seem to be quite divergent from what Google thought I should be doing. Do you think when the Beltline gets fully developed in Ormewood Park I should give that a try?

    Quote Originally Posted by lsberrios1 View Post
    As a Non Atlanta native, hope you have a good sturdy set of wheels for the roads down there. This is going ot sound a little A-holish but every time I go down to that area is like riding on the moon.. I have no desire to destroy my nice wheels. I guess in a sense you are lucky you can commute to work by bike. I have to sit in traffic . However for training and leisure, can't beat North GA!
    Not sure I follow. In Denver we have potholes galore, if that is what you are implying. I don't ride expensive bikes though (they're all <$500) and they've gotten me pretty far out in CO, so I guess I'll be okay. Let me know if I misunderstood you.

  7. #7
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
    I'd question anyone who claims the Silver Comet trail is "on the Northwest side of town."
    I lived in Decatur for 20+ years (worked at Emory) but retired to FL in 2012. The Silver Comet Trail started in Smyrna which is on the NW side of town (at least its NW of Decatur and Emory). Did they move the Silver Comet after I moved to FL???

    The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition can help you with a "safe" route from Grant Park to Emory and maybe even pair you up with someone to ride with.
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    I guess I am overall not too worried about safety when I check Atlanta's crime maps... there seems to be a lot more property crime here compared to Denver but less violence (or maybe it's just not reported). I do the Sheldon Brown lock method and do just fine in Denver, where bikes are a major theft target. My biggest fear is ending up in a part of town I shouldn't on a bike, as well as picking a commute that doesn't have me getting yelled at by cars a bunch. I have heard how some ATL drivers treat their cyclists isn't too good...

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    I would question anyone who doesn't know the Silver Comet starts on the NW side of town.

    Here's the first paragraph from the Silver Comet Website:

    Silver Comet Trail Georgia - Welcome

    "The Silver Comet Trail is located 13 miles northwest of Atlanta, Georgia. It's free of charge, and travels west through Cobb, Paulding, and Polk counties. This quiet, non-motorized, paved trail is for walkers, hikers, bicyclists, rollerbladers, horses, dog walkers, and is wheelchair accessible."

    Anyone who lives in Atlanta knows the 4th Ward & Memorial Drive/I20 corridor is dangerous. Just a few years ago, Atlanta started bulldozing the vacant buildings down there to try to drive out the scum. We all know Grant Park is dangerous. Heck, I have a lady friend who lived down there and her house was broken into multiple times a year. They sold the house at a loss because no one would buy it in that cesspool part of town. It's one of those areas where one street will have nicer homes & the next street will be half vacant shells & crack houses.

    Just go check out any crime mapping website that will show different types of crime. Ignore silly stuff like theft. Just search for murder, assault & ****.

    Decatur looks golden. Anything near or South of I20 is crap. It's actually worse on the West side of town.



    As for your route... The challenge is getting across I-20. Obviously, there are a limited number of places you can do that. If it were me, I'd be interested in staying safe. That would mean riding where there are plenty of people & avoiding residential side streets. The obvious choice in that respect is Moreland Ave to Glenwood. Moreland is a pretty busy road, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roopull View Post
    We all know Grant Park is dangerous. Heck, I have a lady friend who lived down there and her house was broken into multiple times a year. They sold the house at a loss because no one would buy it in that cesspool part of town. It's one of those areas where one street will have nicer homes & the next street will be half vacant shells & crack houses.

    Just go check out any crime mapping website that will show different types of crime. Ignore silly stuff like theft. Just search for murder, assault & ****.
    Apparently not everyone from Atlanta agrees with you, I have gotten a lot (not just a few, a lot) of opinions otherwise. Particularly about Grant Park, Ormewood Park and East Atlanta.

    The crime websites show mostly if not exclusively property crimes in the area east of Grant Park. Further north (4th Ward), some violence. West of Grant Park, some violence too. I have not looked much in the Memorial area.

    I think you are right about the challenge being I-20. I am looking at Moreland honestly, but I haven't seen it in person yet...

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    Quote Originally Posted by thiocyclist View Post
    Apparently not everyone from Atlanta agrees with you, I have gotten a lot (not just a few, a lot) of opinions otherwise. Particularly about Grant Park, Ormewood Park and East Atlanta.
    You need to clarify with them what you're talking about when you say Grant Park... are you referring to the Park itself, along with the Zoo & Cyclorama, or are you referring to the neighborhoods around it? You're going to be riding through the neighborhood surrounding the Park.

    To make it clear I'm not just some bozo looking crap up on the internet or someone who DRIVES to the parking lot at Grant Park & therefore has no idea of the dangers of area, here's a pic of me not too far from there... that's the Georgia Capitol in the background. Do with the info what you will... during daylight hours on the main roads, you'll probably be fine. I wouldn't ride down there after dark (which you'll probably be doing in Winter depending on your hours,) or at all on the side streets without a freakin' g u n .


    EDIT: Just to further clarify... this pic is me on the bridge on MLK that crosses the Downtown Connector (I75/85) which is about 0.7 miles from the Grant Park Historic District and about a half mile from where my wife works.
    904613_10200435767030821_1846253444_o.jpg
    Last edited by Roopull; 07-01-14 at 04:10 PM.

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    Not suggesting anyone's a bozo. Just saying, I have talked to a *lot* of people about the neighborhoods there as you can imagine (I'm not going around asking people about the park itself, lol). I promise you are the most vociferously against it to date and I've been talking with folks for month. Just because you're an outlier doesn't mean you're wrong, but it is strange. This is the first bike forum I've gone to. [Of course the other caveat here is everyone else I get opinions from is talking to me on the phone or in person and this is the first time I've taken this discussion to Teh Innernetz.]

    I checked out the Trulia crime "heat map" as you suggested and it actually looks pretty good, though East Atlanta and west of the park clearly have some issues, as does Moreland, as does downtown in a major way. But then I compared it to Denver and my hometown and it looks just like home, to be honest. Maybe better. Most of my old digs, we're right in the yellow zone, but the new place has a pretty good "green buffer".

    I'm firearm proficient but I'm not sure I want to carry on a bike. Seems like a can o' worms.

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    Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to suggest it's the worst Atlanta has to offer. I'm not saying it's Compton or anything like that. It's just rough, and it's one of those areas that I have been quite uncomfortable while riding on more than one occasion. So, I don't go there, anymore. I avoid certain parts of town like a plague. Grant Park is the type of place where you get mugged or your car gets broken into in broad daylight. At night, worse things.

    See, during the late 90s & early 2000s, there was an influx of people moving back into the city. Grant Park was one of the neighborhoods benefiting from that influx. So, people bought absolute crap houses, refurbished them to better than new status & sold them to the newcomers (my lady friend I spoke of was one of these.) The problem was that the previous residents didn't go anywhere. It created a feeding frenzy like environment as you'd expect from implanting well funded and somewhat naive middle class people right in the middle of the Atlanta ghettos. And trust me, much of that Memorial Drive/120 corridor was 3rd world ghetto. Even the old slave market... er... cotton mill was renovated into lofts (we're supposed to call it the cotton mill since calling it the slave market embarrasses whitey & angers the blacks.) Since then, some of the niceness of the influx has stuck. Some hasn't & has left shells of empty homes. When you get down there, you'll see what I'm talking about. You can actually see it on Google Maps StreetView.


    To give you an idea of the type of crap I've personally encountered down there, it's been things like riding down a neighborhood street & coming across three young men walking in the middle of the street side by side. As I approached, the spread out a bit so I couldn't safely pass. So, I either come within inches (and probably get attacked,) or turn around. I, of course, turned around while getting heckled by my new friends... apparently, they thought I needed to be reminded that my ethnicity was in the minority in that neck of the woods. There have been a few other little incidents like that, so I just don't ride down there, anymore.

    I also avoid certain areas between Ponce de Leon & 10th... Just be careful, and avoid places with no escape route other than forward.

  14. #14
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    If I read your map correctly, go to maps and look up Eastside Beltline Trail. It ties into part of your route and is dedicated bike path. I wouldn't worry too much about most of the area there just use your third eye, as it were. That area is gentrifying at an amazing rate and getting really nice in some places.
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    Once you choose where you'll cross I-20, the rest of the route is simple.

    Moving from west of Grant Park to east: Hill St and Cherokee Ave are fine. Boulevard is busier but okay; it's the most direct. I don't know Bill Kennedy Way. Moreland is pretty busy. Maynard Terrace and Clifton St are fine. I also go north-south across Memorial Dr asap because it's busy.

    North of Memorial Dr to Emory you have many residential options and you'll enjoy taking different routes. Look at the topo maps and you'll see steeper (though always short) grades on Clifton Rd, etc. Euclid and Whitefoord/Oakdale are two obvious and well-traveled northerly options for you.

    The road surfaces are fine -- typical urban asphalt with a share of cracks and small potholes here and there. As for security, you might be less comfortable in secluded areas after dark, but you don't have to be in secluded areas to ride comfortably from Grant Park even in the dark.

    Here are three quick options at RideWithGPS: Grant Park Emory 1, Grant Park Emory 2, and Grant Park Emory 3. "2" might be about what you've mapped.

    Grant Park to Emory 1.jpg Grant Park to Emory 2.jpg Grant Park to Emory 3.jpg

    At RideWithGPS turn on the "Bike Paths" option in the top right corner of the map. I find those indicators to be pretty reliable.

    And look at the Strava Heat Map for a history of cycling recorded in that part of town -- it's another indicator of the roads cyclists choose.
    Grant Park to Emory Strava Heat Map.jpg

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    I live in Grant Park and regularly commute to Midtown. It's a very pleasant ride from Grant Park...into Cabbagetown...along the Beltline...up to Midtown. Once you reach the point where the Beltline reaches Piedmont Park you could ride through Virginia Highlands to get to Emory. Virginia Highlands is a very nice neighborhood that is probably more aware of cyclists than most of Atlanta. You should be able to navigate through Virginia Highlands to Emory without much problem.

    Shoot me a PM and I can give you the exact streets I take to get to Piedmont Park. I'm sure there are more direct ways to get to Emory but this is the route I have the most experience with and I highly recommend it.

    Lastly, don't listen to a thing that Roopull character is saying. He clearly doesn't know shi* about Grant Park or any of the surrounding areas. Maybe his perspective is based on experiences from the 80s or 90s but I live here now and what he is describing couldn't be less accurate. Bozo indeed...

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    One more comment regarding the I-20/Memorial corridor...its not nearly as bad as you would think. If you cross over on Boulevard the traffic is typically so congested that you can easily ride with traffic or ride down the sidewalk. I actually prefer this route over Hill, Cherokee or Bill Kennedy Way.

    I realize you orginially posted this a couple months ago but I'm happy to ride with you one morning to show you my route. PM me if interested.

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    I would cross at Bill Kennedy, there are bike lanes through Glenwood Park. Then you pick up chester through cabbagetown, then the krog tunnel through L5P.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chapman View Post
    I live in Grant Park and regularly commute to Midtown. It's a very pleasant ride from Grant Park...into Cabbagetown...along the Beltline...up to Midtown. Once you reach the point where the Beltline reaches Piedmont Park you could ride through Virginia Highlands to get to Emory. Virginia Highlands is a very nice neighborhood that is probably more aware of cyclists than most of Atlanta. You should be able to navigate through Virginia Highlands to Emory without much problem.

    Shoot me a PM and I can give you the exact streets I take to get to Piedmont Park. I'm sure there are more direct ways to get to Emory but this is the route I have the most experience with and I highly recommend it.

    Lastly, don't listen to a thing that Roopull character is saying. He clearly doesn't know shi* about Grant Park or any of the surrounding areas. Maybe his perspective is based on experiences from the 80s or 90s but I live here now and what he is describing couldn't be less accurate. Bozo indeed...
    Thanks! I would love to get your exact commute. I am living in GP now, on the east side of it. I love the neighborhood so far... definitely a step up from my Denver digs, even if it's not a gated community or whatever. *shrug* I am a bit nervous about the bike commute still but all the maps you guys are posting are really helpful. I will post my modified Google map to see what you guys think.

    Here is my new map, based on your suggestions and the Strava heat map:

    Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 10.01.37 AM.jpg

    The route is significantly longer but seems to follow well-worn paths of other cyclists, which I'd prefer to do until I am more comfortable around here (concerning where it is safe to ride in traffic). I'll say this, Atlanta doesn't seem more dangerous than Denver on the whole but biking certainly does. There's just not a lot of room left for cyclists on many of the streets.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chapman View Post
    One more comment regarding the I-20/Memorial corridor...its not nearly as bad as you would think. If you cross over on Boulevard the traffic is typically so congested that you can easily ride with traffic or ride down the sidewalk. I actually prefer this route over Hill, Cherokee or Bill Kennedy Way.

    I realize you orginially posted this a couple months ago but I'm happy to ride with you one morning to show you my route. PM me if interested.
    Good suggestion. I would be happy to take you up on your offer. I pmed you yesterday so just let me know what you think.

    I'd also be curious to know whether you all think I need a better bike than my Windsor Oxford... with all the hills, I am beginning to question it for its weight.
    Last edited by thiocyclist; 08-19-14 at 10:04 AM.

  21. #21
    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    I wouldn't worry too much about the weight of the bike and gear. A couple of weeks of riding and your legs will be stronger for it.
    Since you are in the area now, check out The Mobile Social on FB (I don't know that they have a presence elsewhere). It is a short slow paced ride that usually ends up at a beer pub or restaurant after a less than 9 mile ride. It starts from Woodruff Park at 6:30 on the second Friday of the month.
    I mention it more because it's a great way to learn the city while riding with a large group of cyclists. Good way to meet folks too, if you are so inclined.
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    Sounds a bit like the Denver Cruiser Ride! Thanks for the tip.

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    Hey, I just wanted to follow up. I ended up with a pretty good commute by going up to Glenwood, crossing Memorial at BK/Chester (haven't tried going straight through on the Beltline yet -- looks kind've sketch) up to Wylie, then over to Whitefoord/Oakdale, then N Decatur road to Clifton and I'm at Emory. Pretty good deal, about a 15 mile round trip -- tiring but doable and my body's getting used to it. I guess I've made the whole round trip a half dozen times or so, but in addition to that I sometimes ride to Inman Park-Reynoldstown Station and take the light rail to Decatur Station where Emory has a Cliff Shuttle every 15 minutes. Then I either retrace those steps or do the full ride home, usually full ride since at the end of the day I have less patience to wait for a shuttle and less concern about getting sweaty.

    Street-level safety seems good all in all. Parts of Wylie are maybe a little concerning, and that's about it. Traffic is heavily time-dependent. If I get home as early as 6, there are still plenty of aggressive types driving around; rush hour seems to just make people meaner and stupider. If I wait a half hour more to leave everyone calms down and the ride is typically super pleasant.

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    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    I am glad you are having a good experience with the ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by thiocyclist View Post
    Surprised, that is the first negative opinion I have heard of Grant Park so far (though you're also the first cyclist to weigh in).

    Do you have any alternate routes that bypass the Memorial / I-20 corridor (etc.)?
    It is an area that has a long history of being rough, but in the last 5 years that entire East Atlanta Village area has seen a pretty massive resurgence. Yeah, there are still some dodgy areas, but it is nowhere near as bad as it was, and honestly I don't take any greater precautions down there than I would in Dunwoody or Buckhead.

    That said, personally, I'd probably shoot down Briarcliff/Moreland to Ormewood and just use that over to your office. The twisting around off of moreland still puts you dealing with the railway beside Dekalb Ave. Limited crossings and a nasty set of turns on/off Dekalb would make Moreland be a good bit easier. Traffic is a little heavier, but it's Atlanta. Traffic is just the way it rolls.

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