Upcoming path provides unique atmosphere, sights

The Southerner

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BY DECLAN FARRISEE

It’s a cool September evening, one of the first of the year, and I’m taking full advantage of it while I’m biking down the newly opened Eastside Trail, the first completed part of the 22-mile BeltLine. My bike smoothly glides over the freshly laid concrete path, which has ample room for pedestrians and bikers going both directions.

I soon lose myself in the rhythmic motion of my legs, and focus on taking in the sights and sounds of the BeltLine. The first thing I notice isn’t the assortment of art that follows you down the 2.25-mile trail, but the wide strip of bare dirt that mirrors the path. This area is sprinkled with a variety of construction equipment and the occasional worker.

At some points I am forced to leave the pathed section and cross through unfinished work. The construction that accompanies me down the path is certainly a distraction, and possibly a deterrent, for some potential visitors.

Despite the construction, I am still having an enjoyable experience. Virginia-Highland, Inman Park and several other Atlanta neighborhoods provide a backdrop for the path, and help create the BeltLine’s unique scene. My fellow travelers vary from leisurely exercisers to families going on a walk to extreme bikers.

I pass a variety of graffiti along the trail, and every once in a while a more traditional art piece surfaces beside the path. The graffiti covers everything from a highway underpass to a renovated warehouse, and can be quite aesthetically appealing. One piece has a group of rainbow trolls, fittingly placed under a bridge. More graffiti sprawls across the backs of buildings and includes simple words and more intricate drawings. The more formal art pieces still adhere to the alternative atmosphere of the BeltLine, yet add a more cultured tone.

In addition to providing a nice place for a bike ride or stroll, the BeltLine is also a convenient way to get around. After entering the trail by the 10th and Monroe intersection,I find myself quickly cutting through Virginia-Highland, Inman Park and the Old Fourth Ward. I reach theend of my journey on Irwin Street, just off of Boulevard.

By covering this wide range of the city, the BeltLine is a convenient tool for all bikers and pedestrians.The Eastside Trail has been open since summer, a major step in its two year journey. The years of work have paid off, and the BeltLine is now free of the trash, kudzu and overgrowth that used to fill the old train tracks. Although it is still a work in progress, the BeltLine creates a unique experience and offers an alternative route to Atlanta destinations.

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