Despite looming storm clouds and a daunting weather forecast, Sunday’s Atlanta (and Decatur) Streets Alive event lured the largest crowd the program has ever seen, officials tell Curbed Atlanta.
With nearly 145,000 people in attendance, Streets Alive’s 8.8-mile Cross-City route, which ran from the City of Decatur, through downtown, all the way to the Westside, broke the event’s record headcount by more than 10,000.
That’s comparable to the entire population of Savannah turning out.
The next largest crowd, at 134,000 people, was drawn to 2017’s Peachtree Street route. (To tabulate attendance estimates, Atlanta Bicycle Coalition utilizes a team of counters who take surveys of different areas along the route.)
Inspired by the ciclovia of Bogotá, Colombia, the festive Atlanta programs have been held since May 2010’s debut on Edgewood Avenue—when a mere 5,000 attended.
The Cross-City route also linked a record-breaking 21 Atlanta neighborhoods, according to Haydée Santana, the ABC’s deputy director.
And while the colossal event provides a fine excuse for a long, lazy Sunday ride—or walk, or skate, or scoot—it also offers an important glimpse at what typically car-congested roadways could be if they were better shared by all modes of transportation.
“Through Atlanta Streets Alive, we’ve been able to demonstrate the public demand for the city to fund and build safe, vibrant, and complete streets,” said ABC program director Heather Luyk in an email to Curbed.
Luyk pointed to the fact that the Cross-City route took cyclists, pedestrians, and everyone else (besides motorists) down Howell Mill Road, Marietta Street, Decatur Street, and DeKalb Avenue—usually challenging thoroughfares for non-drivers.
A hustling bicyclist, it turns out, can traverse that entire route in about half an hour, with few crippling hills in the way.
As ABC preps to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Streets Alive in 2020, “we’ll continue to enlist key partners, like the City of Atlanta, to build on the momentum that’s shifting Atlanta’s transportation culture and moving us towards safe streets for all Atlantans,” Luyk added.
She also noted that Streets Alive’s upcoming Southwest Route, scheduled for September 29, has been finalized and will be announced later this month.
That route, as officials have said, is supposed to run through streets on the City of Atlanta’s High-Injury Network, which includes roads with disproportionately high rates of accidents.