Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct event dates and to provide additional information from Streets Alive.
By David Pendered
Atlanta Streets Alive has scheduled three events this year and the City of Atlanta intends to provide the sponsor with $200,000 to help cover the cost of closing streets to vehicles so that pedestrians and non-motorized conveyances can have their afternoon on the asphalt during each event.
Atlanta Planning Commissioner Tim Keane’s office approved the funding effort on Nov. 29, 2018 and it received a green light Jan. 2 from Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom’s office. The paper is to be considered Tuesday by the Atlanta City Council’s Community Development and Human Services Committee.
The legislation says the money is to come from two sources:
- $75,000 from the Department of Public Works, from a fund for highways and streets administration;
- $125,000 from the Department of City Planning, from a fund for streetscape improvement and maintenance programs.
Atlanta Streets Alive fits into the city’s broader strategy to promote bicycle riding as a form of transportation in addition to the car, plus as a form of recreation and exercise. This is how the paper justifies the city’s purpose in supporting the three events:
- “The purpose of this legislation is to fund the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, which works to educate people on safety, provides resources to overcome barriers to bicycling, promotes bicycles as a viable transportation solution and form of recreation and exercise, and organizes events like Streets Alive.”
The legislation observes:
- “[T]he City of Atlanta is committed to creating a safe and enjoyable network of bicycle infrastructure, and has made significant investments in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure with a diverse range of partners including the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition; and ….
- “[T]he Donation is authorized pursuant to City of Atlanta Charter Section 6-306, as an appropriation for charitable purposes.”
The code section referenced states:
- “The governing body of the City of Atlanta shall have the authority to annually appropriate and donate money, derived from taxation, contributions, or otherwise, for and to any corporation, company, association, or institution for purely charitable purposes. … The governing body is authorized, in its discretion, to select the recipients of such appropriations and donations and as to determine the amounts of same.”
If the council committee approves the paper, it could be slated for a vote by the city council at its Jan. 22 meeting.
This timeline would enable the event’s sponsor, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, to access the funds for its first signature event of the year – a ride along Peachtree Street on April 9, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The dates of this year’s Atlanta Streets Alive are:
- April 9, Atlanta Streets Alive – Central, along Peachtree Street;
- Sept. 5, Atlanta Streets Alive – Cross-City, along Howell Mill Road, Marietta and Decatur streets, and DeKalb Avenue;
- Sept. 29, Atlanta Streets Alive – Southwest, route to be determined.
Already, nearly 1,600 individuals have expressed interest in attending the first event, Atlanta Streets Alive – Central. Nearly 300 individuals have indicated they will attend, according to the event’s Facebook page, which describes the event as:
- “[O]ne of the most engaging ways to test ideas that will make traveling on Peachtree Street by any mode of transportation safer and less stressful. During our 2018 activation of Peachtree Street, Atlanta City Studio made it possible for participants to interact with a bold concept from the Downtown Atlanta Master Plan, a shared street.
- “Back in 2016, after we temporarily redesigned a section of the street to show how adding protected bike lanes would fit, 99 percent of Atlanta Streets Alive survey respondents said they would visit Midtown more often if they had parking-protected bike lanes on Peachtree Street.”
Of note, valet parking is a revenue source for ABC. In 2016, ABC earned $23,632 by providing valet parking for a total of 6,000 bicycles at 22 events, according to the ABC’s 2016 tax return as posted by guidestar.org. In 2015, ABC reported revenue of $29,395 for bicycle valet at events in 2015, according to its tax return for 2015.
The city has funded Streets Alive since 2015, according to Streets Alive. Proposed funding increased this year to $200,000 from $150,000. The funding support from the Public Works Department is a first this year, and Streets Alive offers this interpretation:
- “That the funds will be drawn from the Department of Public Works as well as from the planning department this year further highlights the role of Atlanta Streets Alive in promoting transportation options and pioneering Atlanta’s cultural shift away from cars and towards transforming our city streets into places where people come first.”
The significance of this year’s funding is that it has increased from $150,000 to $200,000 and the adjustment in sources of the funding. The Department of Parks and Recreation was a past funding source (in addition to the Department of City Planning). That the funds will be drawn from the Department of Public Works as well as from the planning department this year further highlights the role of Atlanta Streets Alive in promoting transportation options and pioneering Atlanta’s cultural shift away from cars and towards transforming our city streets into places where people come first.