August 28, 2000
Volume 53, No. 1
Shoe fits for Open Spaces
By Eric Rangus
A cornerstone of Emory's master plan is to increase the walkability of the campus. Earlier this month, the University was rewarded for its efforts.
Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety (PEDS), a local grass-roots organization that focuses on making Atlanta streets safe for pedestrians, presented Emory with a Golden Shoe award for its Opens Space Project, a major part of the Campus Master Plan. The award was one of eight handed out at an Aug. 11 reception at the Margaret Mitchell Visitors Center.
Sharing the honor was Hughes, Good, O'Leary & Ryan, the landscape architecture firm handling the project. The award, which is a mounted baby shoe dipped in gold paint, was for most "pedestrian-friendly street transformation." It was one of seven PEDS awarded.
"This award is good news for Emory and for Atlanta-for Emory because the award recognizes the hard work the University has been doing since 1996 to develop a campus plan that gives pride of place to pedestrians, not automobiles, and for Atlanta because it reflects a growing understanding that we must find ways to get out of our cars and into our communities," said JoAn Chace, who accepted the award.
Central to the Open Space Project is the closing of interior campus roads to vehicular traffic, which in turn promotes foot traffic. The first step was the closing of North Kilgo, then parts of Asbury Circle and Pierce Drive and the addition of bricks in front of Cox Hall. The result is one of the campus's heaviest concentrations of walkers and bikers.
In 1999, landscaping and walkways took the place of the Pierce Drive asphalt between the University Center and Alabama Hall. The closing of Asbury between Pierce and Fraternity Row just came into being, and this part of Asbury will eventually be bricked as well.
It was this type of dramatic restructuring toward a pedestrian-friendly environment that impressed the people at PEDS.
"I think it's an outstanding improvement. It dethrones the automobile and puts priority on pedestrians and cyclists," said Sally Flocks, PEDS president. PEDS was founded in 1996, and the Aug. 11 awards ceremony was its first. Flocks once worked at Emory and is familiar with the campus's former makeup.
Several judges felt Emory was "light years ahead of where public roads might be," Flocks said. Members of panel also felt that Emory's project could serve as a model for other throughout the metro area.
"I am very impressed with what Emory has done," Flocks said. "It's wonderful in terms of providing an example of a place where you don't need a car to get around."
"Getting recognized by a group like PEDS lets us know we're on the right track," said James Johnson, project manager in Campus Planning.
A couple of Emory's neighbors also were honored with Golden Shoe awards. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shared an award with two other organizations for a four-year investigation of pedestrian facilities in four Atlanta metro area counties; and WGCL-TV (channel 46) earned an award for comprehensive televised coverage of pedestrian issues.
The award jury consisted of representatives of PEDS, Atlanta's Urban Design Commission, the Fulton County Department of Environment and Community Development, Safe Communities of DeKalb County and the Atlanta Regional Commission.