Blood, Sweat and Gears: How Atlanta Streets Alive helped change the story of Atlanta as a car-only culture

Jenn Graham

To change a culture, you have to change the stories. And the summer of 2011, the prevailing story told by leaders for decades was "Atlanta just isn't a bicycle friendly city." But after hitting a parallel grate on her way to work, and flying over her handlebars on a busy road, Jenn Graham had enough. She was tired of hearing excuses and launched into a mission to help make Atlanta more bike friendly.

Jenn volunteered for the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and helped revive, rebrand and reorganize an open streets event called Atlanta Streets Alive. Within four years, it grew to the largest open streets event in the country from 5,000 participants to over 100,000 participants offering four events per year across the city, becoming one of the most coveted and beloved community events in Atlanta. The event connects dozens of neighborhoods, sparks economic development and shines a light on the need for safe, livable streets designed for everyone, age 8 to 80.

Today, Atlanta has double the miles of bike lanes, a bike share system and a Chief Bicycle Officer. Atlanta Streets Alive has and in a headline, "Walkability and Atlanta Streets Alive threaten to make Atlanta 'cool.'"

So how did they do it?

In this 20 minute talk, Jenn provides a behind the scenes look at what worked, what didn't work, and 10 strategies for building community passion and support for your open streets event, from branding to creative community engagement strategies to partner outreach, funding and more.