Smyrna to close roads for Open Streets event Oct. 14

Cyclist on the Silver Comet Trail in article about Silver Comet Trail reopenCyclist on the Silver Comet Trail (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

The City of Smyrna is jumping on a growing worldwide trend by closing streets to automobiles in favor of walkers, joggers and bikers on Sunday, Oct. 14. Open Streets will be similar to Atlanta’s Streets Alive.

The city council unanimously approved closing portions of Powder Springs Street, Hughes Street, Belmont Place, Belmont Boulevard and Ward Street at its Monday night meeting (specific closure locations can be found at this link). The streets, all located near the city’s downtown, will be closed from 1 to 7 p.m.

Blackburn sponsors the Open Streets event

“It will be advantageous for Smyrna to be able to do something of this nature, and I think that our community will embrace it.” said Ward 3 council member Maryline Blackburn, who sponsored the agenda item. “This is the first year, and we’re doing it on more of a smaller scale. We’ll make sure our citizens know that we’re going to be accommodating them, that’s the most important thing.”

Blackwell said the idea originally came from Maxwell Ruppersburg, Smyrna’s special projects coordinator.

“We have people in the community who came forward to ask about it as well because they’ve seen other areas host streets alive events,” said Blackburn.

The event will officially last from 2 – 6 p.m., with the first and last hour of road closures used for setup and breakdown.

Atlanta has hosted its own version, called Streets Alive, since 2010, and Blackburn said she’d been to one in Roswell. This will be Smyrna’s first time out, and Blackburn added that she hopes to expand the event with more streets and more entertainment in future years.

“We wanted to do bigger streets, some of the major streets,” she said. “But this is the first time we’ve done it, so we decided to do it smaller and in areas that are close to the city center. This location also provides visitors an opportunity to visit the Belmont shopping area.”

Open Streets idea originated in Bogota Columbia

The idea originates from Bogota, Colombia, which began hosting an event known as Ciclovia in the 1970s. Ciclovia still takes place each Sunday in the South American capital city, finding fans and replication events across the world.

Along with walking and biking, the events typically allow for skating, skateboarding and most other forms of non-motorized transportation. Organizers often cite promoting alternative transportation as a reason to host open streets events, along with health and community benefits.

Blackburn said more details on what sorts of entertainment will be on hand will be announced closer to the event.