Since 2010, we have been closing miles of Atlanta streets to motorized traffic to open them up for people to explore by bike and foot. In total, we've hosted 18 Atlanta Streets Alive on 11 streets in just seven years.
People tell us they love how Atlanta Streets Alive moves around the city, working within a neighborhood for a few years, then moving on to the next community. That is intentional. We see how open streets can open hearts and minds to new ways of getting around, and we want to spread that throughout Atlanta.
Since our start on Edgewood Avenue in 2010, we've introduced a new route every year or two. After years of people making consistent requests for an Atlanta Streets Alive on the Westside, we settled on Marietta Street and Howell Mill as likely candidates for open streets. For years, the area has had limited foot, bike, and transit access, making economic disparities even more grave despite the increasing number of new businesses, housing, and economic developments. To top it off, all of this complexity takes place next to major university - Georgia Tech.
When the city included funding for a Complete Street project on Marietta and Howell Mill through the Renew Atlanta bond program, we knew that Atlanta Streets Alive could be a valuable tool in garnering support for this transportation improvement. Turning these streets into "Complete Streets" that meet the needs of people walking, biking, taking transit, and driving will improve access and safety for thousands that rely on this vital stretch. While “Complete Streets” isn’t a tip-of-the-tongue term for most Atlantans, the beauty of Atlanta Streets Alive is that it allows people to experience their streets as places where community, equity, and transportation intersect.
Through Atlanta Streets Alive, we create experiences that evolve into tangible, communal changes (including infrastructure changes.) Our hope is that by opening Howell Mill/Marietta to people, residents will walk away with a community-minded, equitable, and sustainable vision for the future of their streets.
Now that you know the rationale behind the new route, let’s talk about the retirement of the old...
In response to the announcement of our 2017 routes, people wanted to know why we were not returning to Highland + Boulevard. The answer is two-fold. First, 2017 is proving to be a busy year for us! We are heavily focused on electing transportation-friendly city officials, and have renewed our focus on empowerment and education. To maintain the high-quality programs that we are known for required that we scale down on the number of Atlanta Streets Alive routes this year. While we wish we could do it all, we trust that this decision will make 2017 a year of deep community-led activism and results.
While we love all of our routes, and Highland + Boulevard is no exception, our commitment to keeping things moving convinced us it was time to retire this popular route, at least for now. If/when the day comes that the city adopts Atlanta Streets Alive as a city-run program (fingers crossed), it’s possible that some oldies but goodies like Highland + Boulevard may return.
2017 is proving to be a year of change! We are delighted to try new things this year and while we’ll miss the old, we’re confident that you’ll love riding with us on the journey. Thanks for all your support - your participation is what makes Atlanta Streets Alive one of the city's favorite things! See you on April 23, June 11, and September 24.