Community Love: Brian Stone, a case for climate change

When we ask people “What’s your favorite part of the Atlanta BeltLine?” the answer is usually a certain trail or a specific feature. Brian Stone’s answer moves with him: his favorite part of the trail is whatever part he’s on.

As Associate Professor in the City and Regional Planning Program at Georgia Tech, the avid cyclist spends a lot of time on the Atlanta BeltLine and has a lot to say about projects of this nature:

“The potential effect of the BeltLine on climate change extends well beyond the historical rail bed itself. In serving as a massive stimulant for redevelopment — and new greenspace development in particular — the BeltLine carries the potential to lessen urban heat island formation — the principal driver of warming trends in Atlanta — through the expansion of parkland, tree planting initiatives underway by Trees Atlanta, and through expanded water impoundments, such as found in the Historic Fourth Ward Park and planned for the Westside Reservoir Park.”

Brian doesn’t just like the project – he uses it several days a week. Since the opening of the Eastside Trail, he has used the Atlanta BeltLine to commute from his home in the Lake Claire neighborhood to his job at Georgia Tech. According to a graduate master’s study in Georgia Tech’s School of City and Regional Planning using data collected by Cycle Atlanta, more than 70% of all bicycle trips on the Atlanta BeltLine have a work-related purpose. Brian finds this number encouraging for the future of bicycle commuting in the city of Atlanta.

Brian Stone, Community Love, Atlanta BeltLine

Brian has enjoyed following the project as much as he enjoys using it. Both he and Atlanta BeltLine visionary Ryan Gravel attended the School of City and Regional Planning at Georgia Tech in the 1990s, and he recalls the revitalization of abandoned industrial beltlines being a hot topic. Now, he sees it as a project that can have a huge impact on Atlanta:

“Down the road, the addition of transit to the BeltLine can reduce both waste heat emissions and greenhouse gas emissions from traffic.  While not originally conceived as a climate management project, the BeltLine is highly conducive to the types of steps we need to take to address rising temperatures in Atlanta.”

Brian says his bicycle commutes on the Eastside Trail are “always a highlight” of his day. As for his favorite part of the Atlanta BeltLine, Brian Stone shows his community love no matter what area of the loop he’s on.

This blog series, titled Community Love, is all about how people have incorporated the Atlanta BeltLine into their every day lives, whether it’s through their classroom, their daily commute, or supporting the project through educational outreach. Read our other Community Love stories here and please share with us any amazing stories you know of where individuals or groups are embracing the Atlanta BeltLine!

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