Atlanta Streets Alive breathes life into Peachtree

Photo by Monica Jamison

A man walking on stilts and giant, colorful birds intriguingly attached to bicycles were, surprisingly, not the signs of the circus arriving in town but of Sunday’s Atlanta Streets Alive.  From 2–6 p.m. on Oct. 25, 2.7 miles of the iconic Peachtree Street were closed to cars and open to all forms of human-powered locomotion, from unicycles to skateboards to dance.  Along the route, from Edgewood Avenue to 17th Street, many businesses and organizations offered activities, samples, free services and information.

After remarks by leaders, including Councilman Andre Dickens, City of Atlanta Chief Bicycle Officer Becky Katz, Planning Commissioner Tim Keane and Midtown Alliance CEO Kevin Green, the event kicked off with a south bound bicycle parade.

Some participants even dressed to the event’s theme of “Fox-y Halloween,” dressing as characters from past shows at the Fox Theatre accompanied by  a chorus of bike bells. Many confused pedestrians whipped out their phones to record the spectacle. At the conclusion of the parade in Woodruff Park, entertainment, including a yoga class, pick-up soccer and a DJ,
was available.

Heading northwards, many activities were available near the Peachtree Center, including local vendors, like Queen of Cream and Chuice, inflatables, zumba and poems written on demand. The density of people and booths decreased until near the Fox Theatre, where chalk artists were showing that their medium is not merely a children’s pastime, and The Graduates a capella
group performed.

Tech’s presence was visible near 5th Street. Tech Athletics promoted the upcoming basketball season, and the Tech Transportation Safety and Operations Lab offered $10 Starbucks gift cards in exchange for participating in a survey.

Highlights of the highly trafficked area that continued on until reaching 10th Street included the #weloveatl truck, a mobile photo gallery which featured local photographers’ Instagram submissions of city scenes; Snyder Cycles’ truck, which offered convenient bicycle repairs; and Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, the event organizer, which provided free bicycle rentals in partnership with the Atlanta Bike Challenge.

The idea of closing the roads to cars began in Colombia in the ‘70s, where now the “ciclovías” take over 70 miles for seven hours every Sunday and about two million people participate.

The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition has organized Streets Alive since 2010, and last Sunday was the fourth time that the event has closed Peachtree Street to cars.

Over 130,000 people participated in this event last year. Earlier this year, Atlanta Streets Alive took over the West End neighborhood and Highland Avenue. On Nov. 8, the event will expand to Clarkston, Ga., a city east of Atlanta in DeKalb County.