Nearly three years after Grady High School freshman Alexia Hyneman was struck and killed by a car at the intersection of 10th Street and Monroe Drive while riding her bike home from school, a group of students are rallying together to make a difference in their neighborhoods and school community.
Founded by 11th grader Bria Brown, the student-led Grady Pedestrian Safety Coalition (GPSC) is on a mission to make the intersection of 10th and Monroe Drive – and other busy sections of intown Atlanta – safer for bikers, pedestrians and motorists.
“This is so important because it’s all about teaching people and reaching them to make it known that this is a problem we can solve,” said Bria, who established GPSC in 2018, and now serves as president. “So many people use this intersection, and with the extension of the Beltline, more people from Inman Park and Candler Park and other neighborhoods walk or bike in the area.
“That particular intersection (10th Street and Monroe) is right at the crossroads of the Beltline, our school, Midtown Promenade, and Piedmont Park,” she noted. “There is so little space. There are new teen drivers and a large number of things that could cause havoc, like what happened when Alexia died.”
Six months after establishing GPSC, Bria and her group of fellow students are resolved to accomplish their mission. In addition to attending and presenting their ideas to the Atlanta City Council, GPSC has installed seven bike racks in and around the intersection of 10th and Monroe.
They also continue to speak out and crusade for pedestrian safety. On
Thursday, Feb. 7, Bria and other GPSC members will be honored by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition for their leadership, advocacy and efforts to make Atlanta more bike-friendly.
“One of our primary goals for raising awareness is to get more people to know about our cause and to get more students who may not be super involved,” Bria said. “They may not think this intersection affects them, but we want to teach them about what’s going on and how they can help solve the problem.”
One GPSC member, Jack Kast, a ninth grader, bikes to school every day, and knows the dangers associated with frenetic in-town traffic. In addition to countless cars at intersections near his Candler Park neighborhood, Jack often spends time waiting for the light to change at crosswalks.
“The whole goal is to change how car-centric Atlanta is – starting on a micro level,” he said. “We’re hoping that our activism and the hope for a more biking and walking–friendly Atlanta will have an effect on the rest of the intersections.”
Grady media specialist Brian Montero applauded students for their efforts. He, too, bikes to school every day and realizes the dangers associated with high-traffic areas across Atlanta.
“This is our students’ reality and I’m glad they’re taking these issues to heart,” Montero said. “We’re the quintessential in-town Atlanta school because we’re at the center of the city. This can set the tone for other schools. While every neighborhood is different, this could be something that can spread citywide.”
Perhaps Bria said it best:
“Individually, we can make a change, but together, our change is more powerful. There is strength in numbers.”