By Collin Kelley
Editor

Three years after a portion of Edgewood Avenue was shut down for the inaugural Atlanta Streets Alive, sponsor Atlanta Bicycle Coalition (ABC) has its sights set on the city’s signature street – Peachtree.

Atlanta Streets Alive will see 2.7 miles of Peachtree Street from Midtown to Downtown closed to vehicular traffic on Sunday, May 19, from 2 to 6 p.m. Four those four hours, Peachtree will be turned into a giant mall with activities, performances, demonstrations and the chance for Intowner’s to ride their bikes, skateboard, walk, jog – anything that doesn’t involve  motorized vehicle.

ABC director Rebecca Serna said Peachtree had always been the goal. “You want the signature street to make a great statement,” she said. “It was our goal from the beginning.”

From just a mile being closed on Edgewood in 2010 to last year’s Streets Alive that saw Highland Avenue closed from Old Fourth Ward to Virginia Highland, the event continues to grow in popularity. For Peachtree, Coca-Cola, MailChimp and the City of Atlanta are onboard as sponsors and supporters.

Serna described the mix of activities for the spring event as “zany and fun,” including bike polo, street hockey, yoga, a climbing wall, fun stuff for kids and more. Students at Georgia Tech are finishing up a smartphone app to help visitors find happenings along the route. Organizations and individuals who would like to host an activity along the route can apply up to May 12 at atlantastreetsalive.com.

Also happening during the street closure will be the Great Atlanta Bicycle Parade, which lines up at 1:30 p.m. at Ellis Street for a downhill ride to the High Museum. The event is open to everyone, and riders are encouraged to dress in costumes and decorate their bikes. You can find out more about the parade at greatatlantabicycleparade.com.

Of course, closing down one of the city’s busiest streets isn’t without some logistical hurdles. The most important aspect was reaching out to businesses, hotels, churches and residents who live along Peachtree. “30,000 people will be able to walk out of their doors and join the fun,” Serna said. “Businesses are excited about all the foot traffic coming by their storefronts. There’s a great opportunity for local businesses to see repeat customers once the event is over, too.”

Serna was inspired to do Atlanta Streets Alive after living in Bogota, Colombia where the concept originated back in 1976 and has grown ever since. “I happened to be living there and when they did the event, and I have fond memories of taking a salsa class in the street,” she recalled.

ABC, which advocates for bike lanes and safety in the city, believes Streets Alive gives residents, businesses and community leaders a chance to see what Atlanta would be like with cars taken temporarily out of the equation. It’s also a chance for people to ride their bikes in a truly safe zone.
“We love hearing from people who brought their families to the other events and now their kids want to ride their bikes everyday,” she said. “It gives residents the opportunity to see where they live differently. Walking, biking or skateboarding down Peachtree is much a different experience than driving.”

ABC is planning a second Atlanta Streets Alive on Peachtree in September and a third in Virginia Highland in October. Serna said ABC is also looking at other neighborhoods to take the event, including West End and the Lakewood area.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.