Experiencing the BeltLine From Inside and Out

Art ghosts on Eastside Trail

Whether Biking, Walking or Taking a Bus tour, the BeltLine is an amazing journey

You know how things come in bunches? Like all of the sudden a name comes up in conversation several times in one day that is from totally unrelated people. Well that’s what happened to me with the BeltLine.

I of course have known about all the progress on the Beltline from all the press releases and e-mail updates I get from the BeltLine folks all the time. After all, Southeast Green has become a destination website for sustainable business and environmental policy news. We are honored. However, after following all the exciting developments, I still had never actually taken the tour or been on the Eastside trail. Bad me!

And then the opportunities came in several different ways in a close amount of time. First, Georgia Interfaith Power & Light which I serve on the board, offered a special three-hour tour for board members and friends. I could not tweet fast enough. Yes, that’s a lot of tweeting. I was blown away. The vision for the new transportation solution for intown dwellers is not only exciting but downright life-changing. Ironically, in a city that defines itself by ITP and OTP, there is a new hip living destination. Soon you will hear everywhere, do you live inside the Beltline or out? So for most of the ITPers, get ready for being out.

The BeltLine has been described by one of the leading urban planners in the country, Christopher Leinberger, as the most exciting transportation project in the US. It’s happening right here in Atlanta even with the demise of the TSPLOST.

Bus tours are hard to come by if you just want to sign up. Be persistent. The tour is totally worth it. You will see parts of Atlanta you have never seen before and you will see all of intown Atlanta in a completely different light. Probably the best way to guarantee a seat on the bus is to gather 30 of your closest friends and family and book your own tour. You might want to add a special stop at Sweetwater Brewery. Just a suggestion.

Another great way to experience the BeltLine is to rent a bike or take your own bike and ride the five-mile (that’s round-trip) Eastside trail. My good Twitter buddy, Pattie Baker, encouraged me to come bike riding with her. Now for those of you don’t know me, let me just say the idea of me getting on a bike was daunting. Thank you Pattie for being patient and encouraging! I was never a big bike rider as a child so it was truly an adventure. If you start at the top of the trail thankfully it’s mostly downhill. Of course that means you get to ride uphill on the way back. It wasn’t always pretty but I did it and if I can do it there are no excuses for anybody else.

To really understand the power of the community change the BeltLine will have, you must get on this first paved portion of the BeltLine. Walking, biking, strolling, running, or just moseying along will influence the way you feel about being intown in Atlanta. Pattie comes from Dunwoody 3 to 4 times a week to simply ride the Beltline. We have since taken a couple of trips on the BeltLine and every time you get on the trail you will see something new.

Framed Garbage Face BeltLine

The first time we rode, we actually saw the visionary, Ryan Gravel, taking the BeltLine from a meeting to his office. Talk about walking the walk, wow! We also stopped and admired all the art installations along the side. Each year, during October the Eastside trail becomes a large outdoor public art display. The second time we followed the path all the way up into Piedmont Park. How cool is that?

Finally, the last encounter was probably the most intimate. My friends Tom and Betsy Walsh recently moved directly on the BeltLine. Tom is an award-winning urban planner who was as excited as a kid in a candy store when he walked me the hundred paces from his front door to the BeltLine. Seeing Tom’s enthusiasm actually made me stop and think about moving myself. It won’t happen for me but if anyone asks me about real estate locations in Atlanta, my first answer will always be you should live on the BeltLine.

Who’s up for a bike ride?

Inman Park Village Curve

About Beth Bond

Beth Bond, the Curator of Green and Sustainable Business News at Southeast Green, is the driving force of Southeast Green. As a Southerner, Bond was tired of hearing about everything "green" happening outside her native region which is what drove her to create the website. - See more here

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