Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ciclovia, or Atlanta Just Got Way Awesomer

Today was "Atlanta Streets Alive," Atlanta's first ciclovia. It was a modest 2-mile chunk of downtown, along Edgewood and Auburn avenues and some of the streets that connect them.

No one was quite sure what to expect, but we knew that if it was successful, it could be the first of many such events. It would give people a chance to try cycling in the city, to see how convenient it could be. It also showed what Atlanta would be like with fewer cars on the road.

Well, it was a raging success. Thousands of people came out. They walked, bicycled, rode skateboards, bought cold drinks, watched theater and dance performances, and hung out with friends. In spite of the heat - over 90! - the streets were busy with life. Apparently, there are a lot of people who want to enjoy safe, traffic-free streets. It was the most diverse turnout I've seen in a long time - every age and race, men and women, little kids and gray-haired grandmothers. The desire for sociable, bikeable streets seems to be universal.

Nearby businesses got a boost. Traffic on adjacent streets didn't seem to be particularly congested. In fact, traffic seemed lighter than a usual Sunday...maybe everyone was walking and biking instead. I was really impressed by the cool bikes that appeared on the roads - folding bicycles, tandems, modern city bikes, and lots of new and vintage cruisers. I was also impressed by Atlanta's bicycle and pedestrian traffic skills. People shared the car-free streets without incident, yielding, passing, and watching out for each other. You would have thought they'd been doing it all their lives.

And the spirit continued on past the end of the route. I made a quick run up to the bicycle shop in Little Five Points, a mile or two away, for some much-needed tubes. On the way back, I passed several large family groups leaving the event, everyone on bicycles, kids and all, heading home or out to dinner. This is not a normal sight here. They were trying something new, and perhaps finding it fun and easy. Maybe they'll try it again some other ordinary day...

But enough of my observations. I'll let the photos speak for themselves!


  1. Thanks for the post and all the pics. I wanted to be there but had a deadline to meet. Very glad you covered it.


  2. Hi - I came across your blog through Let's Go Ride a Bike and was happy to see that you're in Atlanta! I've been trying to get up the nerve to make it to work on my bike (or at least partially on my bike), so have been looking at a lot of blogs. Looking through some of your posts I noticed that you work at GA Tech - I work there also (a research scientist at CATEA in the Dept of Architecture). Anyway, even if I get up my nerve to bike to work, not sure I'll live through all the hills :) Glad to find blogs such as yours though to inspire me to at least try!

  3. scootia - sorry you missed it. Soooo much fun. There will be more! If I remember correctly, you are kind of far out from downtown Atlanta? Maybe we need to organize one in your community!

    Traci - I'm glad you're considering it. Atlanta Bicycle Coalition has a good brochure about bicycle commuting, and classes for gaining confidence in city traffic. I would say, start small - ride part way to Georgia Tech and back on a quiet Sunday, a few times - and work up to a full commute. Maybe a friend can join you. Let me know how it goes!

  4. Thanks - I definitely want to go to a course by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. I noticed recently that they are planning a women's confident city cycling course which is just what I need!

    I'm thinking I'll try riding a Cliff shuttle to Crawford Long (now Emory Midtown) hospital and biking to GA Tech from there since I believe many of the shuttles have bike racks. I've walked to campus several times from there and biking has to be easier and quicker, aside from being worried about being flattened by traffic :)

    Anyway, if you don't mind, I'd love to ask you more questions about your experiences, but can email directly if you'd like rather than continue through your blog. I didn't see a link for direct email, but I could have just missed it. Mine is traci29 at gmail dot com.