Open Streets Macon Advocates For More Accessible Streets

October 11, 2017

Open Streets Macon organized by Bike Walk Macon held its second event on Sunday afternoon for community members to enjoy the streets of Macon and ride their bikes, roller skates or walk without cars.

College Street and Montpelier Avenue closed part of their streets from 2-6 p.m and opened alternate routes.  

“It’s a fun day to come out and meet your neighbors and maybe learn something new about your community,” said the director of Bike Walk Macon Rachel Hollar.

The 1.5 mile span included a variety of activities with the help of several members of the community such as Historic Macon, Sparks Yoga, artist Heidi Clinite, Centenary Church, Middle Georgia Skateboarders, Middle Georgia Derby Demons, community high schools and students organizations at Mercer University, among others.

Marcus Johnson was one of the attendees and he brought his 4-year-old niece and 9-year-old nephew to ride their bikes during the event.

“It’s nice for these kids to get out and ride their bikes and not worry about cars. Plus, it gives them time to try and mingle with the people here,” Johnson said.

The route was altered from the inaugural Open Streets event held in 2016.

“We had some success with the first one…We had about 1,200 people participated that day. We did some evaluation surveys and we kept hearing people wanted food and beverage options so we switched up the route this time to come through Mercer Village,” Hollar said.

Although Open Streets hopes to bring people out to enjoy the community, it also hopes to spread awareness about the importance of having street development that accommodates everyone, not just cars.

“We use Open Streets as an advocacy tool. We collect a lot of data and use that data to support more funding, projects and legislation that supports improvements for people who bike and walk to get around every day because they either choose not to have a vehicle or just simply can’t afford it,” Hallar said.

Rachel Hollar hopes that this data can be used to improve the way Macon residents travel long term.

“We’re hoping that as Macon-Bibb County has new transportation projects that come up like a new street is being repaved or redesigned, we would  ask that they accommodate some of those funds towards better bicycle and pedestrian facilities: bike lanes, crosswalks, traffic lights  that are friendly to pedestrians and wider sidewalks.

Hollar said that she hopes to have an Open Streets event at least once a year.

“Most of our streets are designed for vehicles and a lot of the funds that go into streets only accommodate vehicles. Open Streets gives us an opportunity to take a few hours a few times throughout the year and give the streets back to people to enjoy them,” Hallar said.

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