Monday, April 02, 2007

Riding for no reason

I engaged in an unusual (at least for me) session of recreational bicycling yesterday. I simply went for a ride, without a destination in mind. I wandered south on Harmon Street to the Calvary Temple and Day School compound, which contains a dozen or so buildings. I penetrated the compound through a construction entrance on the north side of the property, hoping to cut through to 63rd Street. However, my intended exit on the opposite side was blocked by a locked gate. Indeed, the whole campus is surrounded by spiky metal fencing. I'm not sure who this "joyful Southern Baptist Fellowship" is trying to keep out of its "Christ-centered learning experience." Methodists? Jihadists? Cyclists? I'm don't know, but it's clear they are serious about security. I took a photo of "Building D" and then pedaled back the way I came.

New York City boasts the Garment District and the Diamond District. I'll call Savannah's answer, which I next entered, the HMO District. Situated between two hospital campuses, the area is a commercial monoculture. Here we find medical labs, pharmacies, doctors' offices and little else. Many of the restaurants in the area close after lunch. I think the Cantonese Chef has longer hours than most, but it was closed when I took a photo through the window. At night and on weekends, there are very few humans on the scene. On a Sunday afternoon, I felt like I was pedaling though a scene from "The Omega Man," except without the homicidal mutants.
I crossed Waters Avenue and entered the South Garden neighborhood, home to 186 households, two churches and one automobile window tinting and detail joint. According the 2004 edition of "Neighborhood Demographic Profiles," published by the City of Savannah, the average South Garden home value is $63,260. With property values like that, it seems certain that the neighborhood will be eroded by hospital expansion pushing southward.

Memorial Health University Medical Center is exactly where I headed next. The campus is bounded on the east by the Casey Canal and the Truman Parkway beyond. I slipped through a gap in the fence and pedaled north along the canal bank. Taking a cue from Planetary Gears, in which our narrator chronicles exploratory rides and photographs his bicycle posed along the way, I made some pictures of my bike next to the canal. And a couple ducks. Also presenting themselves for viewing were egrets, hefty aquatic turtles and a large red-tailed hawk. Savannahians are fond of throwing trash into storm sewer catch basins and out of automobile windows, so I saw plenty of styrofoam cups as well.

I'm told there are plans to convert the route I followed into a real bikeway, which would connect Daffin and Lake Mayer parks. Unlike the other bike trails in the area, this one would actually have some transportational value. I'm not sure how the "Truman Linear Park Trail" will contend with the intersections it will cross. When I reached 52nd Street I had to scramble up a steep embankment, dragging the bike behind me. Then I had to cross the on ramp of the Truman Parkway. Instead of continuing on along the canal, I decided to head west on 52nd Street, which is a strong candidate for Savannah's worst designated bicycle route. But more about that and the rest of my ride in a future post.

1 comment:

Evan said...

I've said it before but that schwinn is a beautiful bike.