Creating a lifelong community

June 26, 2014

by Sheena Adkins + Mike Frampton, PeopleForBikes East Coast events crew

Last weekend, PeopleForBikes and ClifBar joined forces to showcase what great bicycle infrastructure on a better block looks like by sponsoring pop-up protected bike lanes in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn neighborhood. Hosted by the Atlanta Regional Commission, the two-day event, “Sweet Auburn Living Beyond Expectations,” featured temporary shops, cafes, seating, art installations, demonstrations, performances, and, of course, improvements for people walking and bicycling on Auburn Avenue. 

We spent the weekend on Auburn Avenue, helping with the transformation of the street before the event kicked off. In the process, we learned a lot about what a “lifelong community”?one that can accommodate people from birth to old age?might look like.

Here are a few elements of the lifelong community that we experienced at the event:

Healthy Living

To showcase healthy living in this urban community, the event featured a 3×3 Milk Crate Gardening Demonstration. The 3?3 Project is a community gardening effort dedicated to creating sustainable, productive organic gardens designed to address the hunger and nutrient needs of the community. Community members were very interested in this project and were surprised to find out that a 3? x 3? garden can be grown virtually anywhere, from a small apartment balcony to an underutilized parking lot! The food produced by these garden blocks is used to supplement the resources of local food pantries and community shelters.

Neighborhood Retail + Services

Auburn Avenue recently welcomed a couple of temporary pop-up retail shops. Throughout the event the shops were open and eager to meet members of the local community. Civil Bikes was one of the pop-up shops that locals could visit. They provided bike rentals, historical bike tours and eventually will be able to service bikes. We had the pleasure of meeting Nedra Deadwyler, founder of Civil Bikes, whose passion for history, education, and, of course, bikes was contagious! She conducted bike tours throughout the weekend, where participants were impressed by her extensive civil rights historical knowledge.

Social Interaction

To encourage social interaction, event organizers strategically placed park benches along the avenue, provided a stage for local entertainment, and created a pop-up library that featured a book sale to benefit the Friends of the Auburn Avenue Research Library. Community members mingled over books and relaxed together on park benches. Many of the attendees had never been to the local library, so this event provided a great opportunity for the surrounding community to see everything that is available to them, right in their own backyards.

Pedestrian Access + Transit 

In order to create a safe and encouraging avenue where community members could safely maneuver the road and sidewalks, PeopleForBikes and ClifBar sponsored a temporary protected bike lane. Small wooden planters lined the existing buffered bike lane, creating a physical separation between cars and bikes. Throughout the event, bike riders enjoyed the safe and beautiful lane.

These elements combined to create a compelling vision for what a lifelong community looks like on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta ? or anywhere!

To find out more about lifelong communities, visit the Atlanta Regional Commission website.

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