For a long time, watching Atlanta BeltLine construction progress felt like attending a sloth rodeo: An interesting concept in theory, but when it came to actual movement, things rarely happened. But that’s all changing. Fast.
The planned 22-mile loop—considered one of the most ambitious, mobility-enhancing urban redevelopments in American history—opened trail sections all over Atlanta in 2021, with another mile finishing now, and much more on deck.
None of that means people on the BeltLine have learned how to act.
With the BeltLine connecting more neighborhoods than ever, and new people pouring into the ATL at a rapid clip, it’s high time for a primer on how to behave—and what not to do. The BeltLine is shaping up to be Atlanta’s version of a boardwalk, a real-life Peloton course, and a vital transportation corridor minus the cars. That’s if the knuckleheads don’t ruin it first.
19 unwritten (until now) Atlanta BeltLine rules to live by:
1. If you’re pedaling so fast that people are scoffing or harboring their children from you, it’s not that they’re weak. It’s your Greg LeMond complex flaring up again. Slow down.
2. When you tell someone to meet you at the BeltLine, down by the brewery, you have to be way more specific.
3. If it’s after 3 p.m. on a weekend, and you see people wearing even one item of sorority/fraternity apparel, it’s safe to assume their BAC is LOL AF. Allow three feet of extra distance.
4. Apply the third rule to moms in groups of three or more without their children. At all times.
5. Kid-leashes on the BeltLine: Nobody will judge you.
6. E-scooter riders who are two-deep or obviously in elementary school: Everybody’s judging you.
7. Doing a wheelie for more than 20 feet on the BeltLine doesn’t make you cool—it makes you a wobbly missile, only stupider.
8. No matter how nice the weather, going shirtless between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day is only permitted on the BeltLine if you’re blatantly, hilariously hairy. And preferably on roller skates.
9. Walking with scissors isn’t advisable. But carrying them to quickly cut dog leashes longer than six feet (the maximum permitted by BeltLine regulations) is not only permitted but encouraged. They are mobile clotheslines.
10. Speaking of, if your macho-ass dog is trying to prove how tough he is to every Chow Chow and Shih Tzu on the BeltLine … it’s best to hike Rocky to the nearest park instead.
11. “On your left” isn’t dorky. (Maybe a little). But it works. Use it. (See also: bells, horns, Jellibells).
12. The Georgia General Assembly voted by overwhelming majority in 2018 to make standing, talking, or congregating for any other reason on paved BeltLine sections a misdemeanor when committed by two or three people; with groups of more than three, the crime is elevated to a felony. None of that is true, but pretend it is.
13. Treat recurring BeltLine characters like Violin Lady, Singing Guy on Rollerblades, Chavis Flagg (the guitar-slaying skateboarder), Nate Damen (aka ATLTVHEAD), and others like the day-brightening heroes they are.
14. Please, Cheech and Chong, do your thing, but be a little less conspicuous. Especially when the BeltLine is teeming with kids.
15. If you happen to see Owen Wilson (or any other celebrity) on their bike enjoying a BeltLine ride, don’t just point at them and say “Duuuuuude!” and make an idiot of yourself like we do.
16. For every rancid dog nugget you leave on the BeltLine and pretend like you didn’t just see it fall out of your dog… 50 pushups. With your dog on your back.
17. Tip your BeltLine buskers. They all add soul to this “glorified sidewalk” reshaping an American city.
18. If you can’t say, “I shucked a shell, sir,” without sounding like the drunkard in Bugs Bunny cartoons, it’s time to call a ride. Instead of splashing the BeltLine in all that perfectly good beer you’re carrying around.
19. Instead of yelling at tourists who obviously can’t ride their rented bicycles, welcome them to Atlanta. Bless their hearts.
• Recent (official) BeltLine news, discussion (Urbanize Atlanta)