Friday, June 29, 2007

Thunder Dome!

There's been a lot of grumbling lately about funds earmarked for the rehabilitation of Savannah City Hall.

Folks are balking at the project which will include "repointing, epoxy injection and waterproofing of exterior stone; removing, rebuilding and reinstalling the cupola; repairs and modifications to the gold gilded copper dome roof and providing new gold gilding to dome and cupola."

The total cost of the project is $2.2 million.

Personally, I'm not opposed to the project. I think fine public buildings are a community asset. Or, as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. wrote, "Public buildings often accurately reflect the beliefs, priorities, and aspirations of a people."

I'd hate to see what kind of public buildings we'd have if we listened to those complaining about the city hall project. I suspect if they had their way, our public buildings would have as much appeal as a Best Buy or Toys 'R' Us store, all cinderblock walls and corrugated metal.

Still, it's fun to play the game and imagine how much bicycle infrastructure $2.2 million would buy. And it's hard not to be jealous when reading about projects in other cities, announced by city officials who realize the value of transportational cycling to their communities. Again, I'm not against public spending to rehabilitate handsome public buildings. I just wish some of the people who work inside them would try riding their bikes to work every once in awhile. I've occasionally seen an assistant to the city manager riding to work. Are there others? I can't help but think that if more city officials took to the streets on two wheels, they'd see just how far behind the curve we are.

Photo credit: Dizzy Girl

Monday, June 18, 2007

A better way?

Legend has it there are parts of the United States where cyclists have access to multi-use paths and trails that are useful for transportation. I've heard fairy tales about people using MUPs to commute to work and for utility cycling. It's true that here's a .7 mile loop trail a couple of blocks from my house, but it has about as much transportational value as a basketball court.

A meeting later this week will examine the Chatham County elements of the proposed Coastal Georgia Greenway. Meeting details are here. The good news is that several of the Greenway segments could be used for more than recreation. The Truman Park Linear Trail, in particular, will be useful to Memorial Health University Medical Center employees who are commuting from areas between the hospital and Lake Mayer. Memorial personnel drive thousands of cars into the neighborhood every day. Maybe when the trail's complete, the hospital could convince a couple of them to ride their bikes.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I have nothing to BRAG about

I suppose it's an indicator of my relationship to the mainstream cycling culture in my state: I had no idea the celebrated Bicycle Ride Across Georgia concluded in Savannah this year. I was headed to the south side in search of double chain ring bolts when I noticed clusters of bicyclists riding north on Habersham Street. At first I presumed it was a Coastal Bicycle Touring Club group ride, but they just kept on coming. All sorts of bikes, too, including plenty of tandems and recumbents. The ride ended in Daffin Park, just three blocks from my home, I found out when I watched the news last night. I'm embarrassed that I was so out of the loop on this. I'm also curious about what the BRAGers thought of our bicycle infrastructure here in Savannah.

I finally found my chain ring bolts at Quality Bike Shop. The guy who sold them to me asked if I was with BRAG. He said chain ring bolts were the type of thing BRAGers needed for roadside repairs. During my visit to QBS, I inspected an Electra Amsterdam Classic 3. It's one of the most handsome bicycles I've ever seen.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Twelve Oaks, five bikes

In the early days of Bike Year I wrote about the experience of riding my bicycle through the parking lot at the Twelve Oaks Shopping Center and the curious stares my presence evoked from motorists. Things have changed. We rode to Publix Monday evening and arrived to find a battered old mountain bike chained to a light pole. A SCAD student on a fixed gear Schwinn showed up at the same time we did. On the way out I noticed a Cannondale hybrid locked to a handrail.

It was a veritable bicycle riot!

What's more, two bystanders saw fit to make comments referencing economic benefits of bicycling. They said things along the lines of "I bet you get a lot of miles to the gallon on that thing!" Har har.

On a less positive note, a car was parked in the bike lane on the west side of Haberhsam Street, about 100 feet north of DeRenne Avenue. While motorists frequently park in the Lincoln Street bike lane, it's rare on Habersham.