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!