City Council members introduced legislation for a Complete Streets policy that would help make the city safer for all at Monday’s meeting.
Complete Streets, a national program, aims at making streets that are safe and accessible for all, including the elderly, children, people with disabilities and alternative modes of transportation.
Under Complete Streets, infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists would be improved. The City of Athens would add sidewalks and bike lanes amongst other design elements to elevate transportation paths.
“This would be a system that would be looked at at all levels of planning and programming design,” Councilman Peter Kotses, D-At Large, said.
Councilman Sam Crowl, D-3rd Ward, said he supports the policy and was behind several of its drafts. Crowl believes the ordinance contains almost all of the components of a Complete Streets policy, and it will help with Athens’ future developments.
“We need to try to legislate, obviously, for as far into the future that we can,” Crowl said.
In recent years, Athens has worked to improve public transportation. Councilman Pat McGee, I-At Large, said he applauds the city for all of its work on improving its bus system, and the system is proof of public transportation being viable in Athens.
City Council members also approved street closures on June 21 and 22 for Brick Criterium, a bicycle race in Athens. Portions of West Union Street, Court Street, North Congress Street and several others parts of the race course will be closed for vehicular traffic and parking.
Daniel Brown, who has been working on the committee to plan Brick Criterium, thanked council members for their time and consideration for the event.
The tax code ordinance was also approved by Council members. The ordinance needed to be passed in order for Athens to collect income taxes, City Auditor Kathy Hecht said. However, Hecht said some of the language in the ordinance is unclear or contradictory.
“We’re still working on it,” Hecht said. “In the meantime, that’s a hardship.”
Council members also introduced ordinances about shared active transportation, such as e-scooters, which the city council is working to get in Athens.
The fees for e-scooters and other shared active transportation modes were discussed. Council said they want to ensure that the fee is reasonable as to not drive away e-scooter vendors. The city could potentially profit off of e-scooter fees. However, if the fees are too high, the scooters wouldn’t be a possibility at all.
Rob Delach, an Athens resident, said he supports Council’s ideas on e-scooters. He also shared some of the same concerns.
“I think this is good stuff,” Delach said. “The one thing I want to caution is to make sure the fees aren’t too high.”