On Sun., April 22 from 2 - 6 p.m, experience 1.8 miles of car-free streets in Downtown Macon. People traffic will replace car traffic, as sections of streets close to cars and open to you! Organized by Bike Walk Macon, Open Streets is a car-free celebration of public space; bringing people together to walk, skate, bike, and play in the streets.
To celebrate this annual event, we interviewed Rachel Hollar, Executive Director, with Bike Walk Macon to learn more about how it started and what it means to our community.
What is your position at Bike Walk Macon? How long have you been working for Bike Walk Macon?
I created Bike Walk Macon in July 2015 because I was passionate about making it easier to bike and walk in Macon. Our inaugural Board of Directors hired me to serve as the first Bike Walk Macon Executive Director in November 2016.
How did this event begin in Macon?
Bogotá, Colombia is the birth place of Open Streets, or Ciclovía. Ciclovía now draws more than 1.5 million people to 70+ miles of streets that are closed to automobiles – and open to people – every Sunday. Since its inception more than 200 international cities have adopted and adapted the tradition as their own. The Urban Development Authority received a grant from the Community Foundation of Central Georgia in 2015 to bring this exciting program to Macon. In 2016, Bike Walk Macon received a generous Downtown Challenge grant award to improve and expand the program.
What was the highlight of last year’s event?
Last year we were overwhelmed by the neighborhood support. Hundreds of people that lived on or near the route brought out their families, friends, and dogs and enjoyed playing, dancing, biking, and walking with us.
We also welcomed several fun, new activities along the route, including the Senior Steppers line dancing hosted by the Macon-Bibb County Senior Center and the free Macon Bike Share rentals hosted by Visit Macon.
Besides the 1.8 miles of open streets, what else will be going on during the event (businesses tabling, entertainment, etc.)?
You can enjoy the open streets route by biking, strolling, skating, or enjoying any other form of human-powered activity. You can also take part in free activities like dance, yoga, hula hooping, story time and more, clustered in “activity hubs” along the route. Information on these activities will be posted on our website and Facebook page. If you’d like to grab a bite or shop during the event, several local businesses along the route will be open for special hours. There is no start or end and Open Streets Macon is free and open to the public.
What are you most excited about for this year’s event?
This is a BRAND NEW route! Open Streets Macon is coming to Downtown Macon. You can expect to experience two of Macon’s most beloved streets – Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Cherry St. - in a safer, healthier, more livable way while three Macon neighborhoods, the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail, and countless Macon landmarks, restaurants, and businesses are connected and activated by human-powered amusement for the afternoon.
What are your hopes for the future of Open Streets/the walkability and bikeability of Downtown Macon?
Open Streets is about connecting communities and transforming the way ALL Maconites – from young to old, from people on bikes or skateboards to people in wheelchairs - view their streets. I hope that the Open Streets Macon movement inspires and influences changes to our transportation network to create a happier, healthier, more connected city.