Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

Atlanta Streets Alive promotes biking, community diversity

Riding around on bicycles is doing more than just promoting exercise and an alternative mode of transportation. If you're riding with Atlanta Streets Alive, it's showcasing the diversity in cultures in different communities.

Atlanta Streets Alive events are where the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition shuts down streets to cars and leaves them open for people.

Bring your bike. Bring your feet. And get ready to explore the streets of Atlanta.

These events started off with the goal to shift residents' opinions of transportation in the state ranked 25th in bike friendliness.

“I felt like an Open Streets event was an idea so far outside of everything we were talking or thinking about,” Rebecca Serna, the executive director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, was quoted as saying on Alliance for Biking & Walking's website. “Opening up streets and taking cars out of the equation would help people experience how great it is to escape your car. I knew we’d never get a large number of people to get that unless we took cars out of the picture.”

And that's exactly what happened. Within the last five years, Atlanta Streets Alive's numbers in participants has dramatically increased from 5,000 to 100,000. Not only has it helped start a larger conversation about transportation, it's also shown thousands of Atlantans the diversity that lives around them.

"Some of the routes are more diverse than others, but I’d say it’s one of the most diverse events you see in Atlanta," Serna said. "There are so many neighborhood festivals but our neighborhoods are fairly segregated. Especially the West End event, which is in a historically black community, where the concept has gotten such a stronghold within the community.”

The next Atlanta Streets Alive event is the 2015 National Open Streets Summit on Sept. 25-27.

- Blog post by reporter Kendall Trammell, kendall.trammell@coxinc.com.

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