Days after activists launched a petition lobbying for the closure of the city’s most popular multi-use trail, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms enacted new rules regulating when people are allowed to use the Beltline.
The paved path won’t be shut down, but officials believe new restrictions could help curb the crowding that activists saw as unsafe at a time when people are advised to avoid others to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Under the new order, trail access would be divided by time of day and type of use.
Between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.—when the popular Eastside Trail tends to see the lightest traffic—officials are “prioritizing access to the trail for older adults, people with disabilities, and those with compromised health conditions,” such as asthma and other respiratory conditions, according to a Beltline announcement Tuesday.
Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the Beltline can be used for normal exercise, such as walking, running, or biking, for people who might not have easy access to other routes.
(Although, as Beltline visionary Ryan Gravel pointed out last week, there are many more parks and trails around metro Atlanta.)
After 2 p.m. each day, trail access would be reserved for those who need the Beltline to get to work and for emergency-related travel.
BELTLINE USAGE GUIDELINES— Temporary guidelines are now in effect to ensure more social distancing and reduce trail usage. Stay home. #StayHomeSavesLives #SocialDistancing— Atlanta BeltLine (@AtlantaBeltLine) April 7, 2020
Learn more: https://t.co/vutERWpysu pic.twitter.com/P8V8qyhdAt
The decision to tighten up usage regulations seems to be in response to high traffic the Eastside Trail and its environs had been luring on weekend afternoons.
City of Atlanta and Beltline officials have not yet announced how enforcement of the new guidelines would work, although last week, the head of the Fulton County Board of Health issued an order stating that people who didn’t heed stay-at-home recommendations could be fined or face jail time.
Officials also maintain that Beltline leaders have been watching usage dip in recent weeks as concerns over the global pandemic ramp up.
The Beltline has also canceled all of its events and programming until at least April 30.