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Atlanta's Bicycle Superhighway begins

My wife and I bicycled the BeltLine Eastside Trail this afternoon. The 14 foot wide concrete path stretches from Irwin Street on the south end to 10th Street and Monroe Drive (southeast corner of Piedmont Park) on the north end. Bicycling on the BeltLine is a breeze!

This changes everything for cycle commuters in the Piedmont Park, Virginia Highland, Poncey-Highland, Inman Park and the Old Fourth Ward areas.

A lot of people respond to the opening of a new Atlanta bicycle trail with a shrug. "So what? Atlanta has miles of them." Let me tell you: the BeltLine is a game-changer for intown trails. The secret sauce of this trail is that it reuses an old railroad right-of-way. The original rail line was surveyed and engineered for ease of transport and slight grades (usually 2% or less). If you've ever rode a Rail Trail like the Silver Comet, you know what I'm talking about. The difference between riding this exquisite path of least resistance and the hilly, pot-holed, dangerous streets of Atlanta can't be overstated. You glide over or under street intersections and never in the traffic. Granny and the kids can ride safely and with ease!

Bicycling is well-documented as the most efficient form of transportation known to man -- 5 times more efficient than using the train and 15 to 20 times more efficient than driving a car. If you look at the planned 33 mile loop of trail as a kind of inner perimeter highway for bikes, then the Eastside Trail could be the first segment of a spoke-and-hub bicycle superhighway. It's easy to envision surrounding municipalities wanting to connect their own rail trails to this superb transportation alternative. My advice is find any unused railroad rights-of-way or similar corridors that feed into the BeltLine and get 'er done. Plans are already underway for the Georgia 400 Trail, a 5 mile spoke trail that will link Buckhead to the BeltLine. And the case has already been made for developing the Full Loop of trail as a first priority.

With the transportation referendum defeated and gas climbing above $4 a gallon, time is of essence. Terminus redux, post haste!

Here are some of the gems and charms along this section of Atlanta's emerging emerald necklace:

  • Piedmont Park
  • Park Tavern
  • Trader Joe's
  • Midtown Cinema
  • Whole Foods
  • Home Depot
  • Starbucks
  • Kroger
  • CVS Pharmacy
  • Paris on Ponce
  • Ponce City Market (with a planned spur trail directly into the building)
  • Dancing Goats Coffee Bar
  • Historic Old Fourth Ward Park
  • Skateboard Park
  • Inman Park Village
  • Parrish Restaurant
  • Rathbun's Restaurant
  • Stoveworks
  • Studioplex
  • Irwin Street Market

Of course, embedded along this amenity-rich corridor are new and existing townhomes, condos and live/work lofts for sale with direct access to the BeltLine. Let me know if you'd like to take a look...

Map courtesy of Atlanta BeltLine Inc.

Posted on Friday, September 7, 2012 at 03:52PM by Registered CommenterBurke Sisco in , , , | Comments10 Comments

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Reader Comments (10)

Burke, did you coin the phrase "Emerald Necklace"?
Because that is the best way to describe the beltline that I've heard to date!
September 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel
Didn't coin it, Rachel. Just an early adopter of the terminology. Same with "bicycle superhighway": didn't invent it but perhaps the first to apply it to the BeltLine.
September 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterBurke Sisco
Any bike path that has a Starbucks on it has my vote! I love to bike on caffeine.

Once you guys get your "biking legs" under you, invest in a mountain bike and head up to Blanket Creek Mountain Biking Trails in Woodstock (this fabulous city has 60 miles of biking trails in the works!) or Bear Creek Trail in Ellijay, GA. Amazing scenery.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony
Any rail trails in the works for Woodstock?
September 10, 2012 | Registered CommenterBurke Sisco
In addition to Starbucks, Dancing Goats Coffee Bar has opened in Ponce City Market at the corner of North Ave & Glen Iris in the old Sears auto service area. They have an absolutely awesome outdoor patio - much better atmosphere than the Starbucks location!! IMHO, the coffee is better, too. You should check them out.

P.S. Anthony, there's also a Starbucks up in Ansley Mall if you need another caffeine stop on your ride...
September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSES
I corrected the list of gems and charms to include Dancing Goats Coffee Bar. Sorry for the omission.
September 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterBurke Sisco
Wow! Burke, the BeltLine should hire you to do all their PR. This is great.
September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBill Seay
Thanks, Bill! I believe the BeltLine has something for all ATLiens to be excited about. It's Atlanta 2.0 -- an upgrade for our city!
September 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterBurke Sisco
Boston has an area already coined the Emerald Necklace:

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBT
Alvin Garvin of the Trust for Public Land published a paper in 2004 entitled "The BeltLine Emerald Necklace." He pays homage to Frederick Law Olmsted's coining of the term and, if I recall correctly, acknowledges the conservancy you speak of.
October 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterBurke Sisco

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