The Atlanta BeltLine's Eastside Trail, which carves a totally novel (to most of us) 2.25-mile path between Piedmont Park and Inman Park, has drawn heavy foot and bike traffic since well before its October 15 opening. Yes, it's Atlanta's shiny new toy, but don't expect the crowds to thin with time. The surrounding neighborhoods will only become more bustling, especially when Jamestown Properties' Ponce City Market opens in 2014. Instead, read these rules and share the trail with your multimodal neighbors in harmony:
1. Kindly step off the trail before Instagramming. Don't come to a sudden halt to snap a photo of that awesome piece from Art on the Atlanta BeltLine.
2. Wear headphones at your own risk. The only thing you hear more frequently than surprised exclamations of "We're already at Ponce?" or "Is that the back of Two Urban Licks?" is cyclists hollering "Left!'
3. Mind the Ponce bridge. The fourteen-foot-wide path comfortably accommodates two-abreast walkers on either side of the centerline (cut into the concrete instead of painted on for design reasons)—except on the footbridge over Ponce de Leon Avenue, where it narrows considerably.
4. Cyclists, prepare for pedestrians to totally ignore #3 and to spread out across the bridge.
5. Cyclists, if you feel the need for speed, go to the Silver Comet Trail.
6. Don't dress your toddler or dog in an adorable Halloween costume and bring them on the trail, providing a hazardous distraction for the rest of us.
7. Disregard #6.
8. Anyone who passed up a real estate opportunity in the vicinity should avoid the trail at all costs.
9. Stop complaining about the crowds. The Eastside Trail is a wonderful new amenity for the city, and the visionaries and volunteers behind the BeltLine didn't have to build it for us. Their work is nowhere near done (read about the project's progress here), but I sincerely hope they've taken a moment to enjoy a beer on some trailside patio.
10. In fact, bring friends. Toss a frisbee in the wide grassy lane adjacent to the trail, which is already outfitted for future transit infrastructure. Maybe visit the Northside Trail along picturesque Peachtree Creek, site of a famous Civil War battle, or traverse the Southwest Trail for a picnic in historic Westview Cemetery. See a slice of Atlanta you've never seen before, or take in the same old haunts from a new angle. That's the beauty of the BeltLine.
In case you're curious, here are the official trail rules:
· Report illegal activities to 911
· Place all litter and recycling in receptacles
· All pets must be on a leash; pick up after your pet
· No horses are allowed at any time
· No vehicles allowed (motorized)
· No tents or canopies allowed, except by special permit
· No equipment that calls for independent power, except by special permit
· Games and activities that could harm the landscaped area are prohibited
· No glass containers allowed
· No amplified music allowed, except by special permit
· No selling of food or other items, except by special permit
· No alcoholic beverages, except by special permit
· Absolutely no drugs or illegal substances allowed