Atlanta Streets Alive was supposed to celebrate its 10th anniversary last week with a party, but the COVID-19 outbreak meant the festivities wound up – like everything else these days – being held via Zoom.
Atlanta Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Rebecca Serna said it was good to see organizers and supporters even if it was virtually. Serna was the brainchild of Atlanta Streets Alive, taking the idea to close the city’s streets to vehicular traffic from a regular event she witnessed while living in Bogota, Colombia.
The success or the program in Atlanta – with 29 open streets programs and 1.7 million participants over the past decade – has shown that there is a desire by people and businesses for more open streets.
Before COVID-19, Atlanta Streets Alive was planning its most ambitious undertaking yet: Closing Peachtree Street every Sunday during the month of October.
“The pandemic has everything up in the air,” Serna said. “Since the city isn’t currently issuing permits for large gathering, while we remain open to holding the weekly pilot program this fall, we are also looking at next spring.”
Serna said the idea of closing Peachtree every Sunday for a month was also inspired by her time in Bogota. A main thoroughfare is closed to traffic every Sunday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and has become a weekly tradition.
“We believe a weekly program with change how people experience streets,” Serna said. The idea is to move away from the festival atmosphere of Atlanta Streets Alive and make it something more high frequency that changes perception and habits. You can’t change habits by holding it three times a year.”
Serna said the pilot program would be used to assess if Atlanta Streets Alive could morph into a weekly event similar to Bogota.
To keep abreast of Atlanta Streets Alive’s plan, visit atlantastreetsalive.com.