For the past 20 years, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition has helped Atlanta safely get on two wheels. Bike lanes are popping up everywhere along with amazing events to promote pedestrian and bike awareness. Finding creative ways to get people out of their cars and to the streets is not only alleviating congestion, but helping Atlanta residents explore their city without the hassle of parking and traffic.
Here, ABC’s Executive Director Rebecca Serna tells CommonCreativ about this Sunday’s Atlanta Streets Alive event, why a bicycle is the best way to see the city and some great Atlanta initiatives in the works.
CommonCreativ: What are some of your favorite places you’ve discovered while on your bike that you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise?
Rebecca Serna: The great thing about Atlanta is its neighborhoods are easily connected by bicycle. When I had a college friend visit, I wanted to be sure to get her on a bicycle because it’s the best way to see the city. On two wheels, it’s easy to have brunch at Flying Biscuit in Candler Park, vintage shop in Little Five Points, check out the gorgeous houses in Inman Park, have a picnic in Piedmont Park, and ride through the Krog Street Tunnel–all in one day. No looking for parking, and you get to enjoy the minute details of the neighborhoods that make the city so quirky and wonderful.
CC: With the bike-share program at Georgia Tech, bike valet and monthly rides, what are some other creative ways to attract residents to the streets?
R.S.: At ABC we host a variety of rides that appeal to a wide range of people: women, casual commuters, children, and triathletes. On May 20th, we’re organizing Atlanta Streets Alive, during which two miles of North Highland will be opened for people and temporarily closed to cars so everyone can experience it in a new way—walking, biking, skating, dancing, or any way they want. The event will include the Great Atlanta Bicycle Parade, which will feature vintage and art bikes so cyclists can show off their personal style.
CC: Happy Bike Month! What are some ways an amateur bicyclist can celebrate?
R.S.: Bike to work! Try it once, and we bet you’ll be hooked. May 18 is National Bike to Work Day. Local commuters will be posting their routes on our website so others can join in and ride in together as a bike train, and several local organizations are hosting rest stops across the city, where commuters can recharge with juice and a muffin.
Or, if you’re really up for a challenge, the Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff will be biking from his home in Buckhead to the Falcons training headquarters in Flowery Branch.
CC: Do you see Atlanta as a creative place?
R.S.: Absolutely. Every morning I commute on the bike lane on Edgewood Avenue and get to admire the art installations on formerly vacant buildings. Riding at ten miles an hour, I’m able to notice details others miss.
CC: What are some initiatives, people, projects, ideas that most inspire you about Atlanta?
R.S.: The Atlanta BeltLine – it’s exciting to see the progress on the Eastside Trail being paved now! And the redevelopment of City Hall East into Ponce City Market is going to be amazing; they are supporting a “road diet” on Ponce de Leon–one of Atlanta’s most dangerous streets for people in cars or on bikes or on foot–which will convert it into a more neighborly street, with protected bike lanes, safer crossings, and improved connections to the BeltLine and other destinations. They will even have a bike repair station and massive bike parking inside!
CC: ABC has long supported Atlanta Streets Alive’s mission. Why is it important to support an event of this kind?
R.S.: At ABC, we’re always looking to make streets accessible to all modes of transportation. This event opens up a major thoroughfare—North Highland—to everyone who’s paying taxes to use it, not just those who drive cars. Developing Atlanta’s artistic street culture is dependent upon having residents interact in those same streets. Atlanta Streets Alive allows us to interact as a community and to influence one another positively and creatively. After all, I pick up my best fashion ideas while bicycling down Moreland Avenue and admiring the pedestrians in Little Five Points.
CC: Tell me about the Atlanta Streets Alive Great Atlanta Bicycle Parade.
R.S.: The Great Atlanta Bicycle Parade is helping incorporate bicycling with art. Bicycles are works of art, after all. (Mine is, for sure.) The parade is going to have vintage and art bikes and will start at North Highland & North Ave and and loop back around at Virginia & North Ave. They’re also offering twelve $100 Art Bike Honorariums and free Art Bike Workshops, so deck out your bike and join the fun!
CC: It is a known fact that Atlanta is not a very pedestrian friendly city. What are some ways apprehensive residents can make their impact without getting on a bike?
R.S.:The culture in Atlanta is evolving. People want to be able to walk to their local grocery store or live within bicycling distance of good restaurants, and we’re starting to see more and more support for that, particularly with the BeltLine and the Ponce City Market project. Of course, we think bicycling shouldn’t make residents apprehensive. As with any form of transportation, you just need to know the rules, and you’ll be fine.
CC: Five reasons why our readers should check out and join the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.
1. We’re here to support you! We want to make your streets safer and more accessible.
2. We’ll teach you how to ride down Peachtree in high heels.
3. We have a ride for you—whether you’re eight or eighty, male or female, and whether you’ve never been on a bicycle or you regularly go sixty miles a day.
4. Biking to see the Braves play saves you $40 and gets you a parking spot right up front, all the while making up for the calories in your basket of nachos. [Now if only they had decent bike parking!]
5. It’s springtime. The weather’s still cool and the flowers are blooming. There’s no better season to get on your bicycle and ride with us!
Great Atlanta Bicycle Parade will be on Sunday, May 20th and will start at 3pm at Manuel’s Tavern.