Sunday, August 24, 2008

Signing off for now

Maintaining this blog doesn't really require much effort from me, as evidenced by the infrequency of my posts and their generally low quality. However, feeling guilty about not updating the site is surprisingly time consuming. In addition, my situation as a cyclist is much changed since I started Bike Year, as described in my last post. So for now, I've decided to discontinue updating the site and reallocate the time and mental energy I previously used worrying over it. I'm going to need all I can get as a new doctoral student. I will continue posting, often about bicycle related issues, at Sustainable Savannah.

I recognize that folks still somehow find their way Bike Year (again, despite my failure to update it) and sometimes find it useful, so I'm not planning to take it down. I hope to pick it up again after the end of fall semester in December. Maybe I'll even offer another installment of the Tentative Utility Cyclist Gift Guide series, which the all-seeing eye of Google Analytics tells me are some of the most viewed posts on the site. Before I go away, however, I'd like to answer Adam's questions. He wrote:
"I moved here in May and am planning to join you in your commuting as soon as I get a bike for it. Besides Habersham and Lincoln, are there any other streets that you know of that have bike lanes or perhaps know of a map of Savannah with bike lanes marked? Also, I think it would be nice to have a list of places that have bike racks in town. Any idea if such a list exists?"
Welcome to Savannah, Adam! The answers to both your questions are yes and no.

First, as you have no doubt discovered, Savannah has very few pavement marked bicycle lanes. However, you can see a map of all designated bike routes in the county by downloading the 2000 Chatham County Bikeway Plan from the Metropolitan Planning Commission Web site. Click here for the .pdf. A word of caution about this document: As the title suggests, it is nearly a decade old and in dire need of updating.

Another option is a map created earlier this year by the Savannah Development and Renewal Authority as part of its Dump the Pump alternative commuting promotion. Kristin Hyser may have some left over. She can be contacted through the SDRA Web site. Or you can download a .pdf by clicking here.But another caveat: The map shows bike route and rack locations only in the National Historic Landmark District. And it will be out of date soon, as the City of Savannah will be deploying new bike racks, thanks to the hard work of the city's director of parking and mobility and daily bicycle commuter, Sean Brandon.

I suppose, Adam, the real answer to both your questions is the Savannah Bicycle Campaign. Bicycle facilities, including parking, are high on the group's priority list. Please consider getting involved or coming out for one of our events. We'd love to have your help in making Savannah a better place for cyclists, which will make it a better place for everyone.

And with that, I'll say so long for now. See you in December.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I've found my people

Whoops! Another Bike Year has expired and I totally forgot to mark this historic occasion with a post of some kind. In June 2006 I asked readers if I should continue it past the one year mark. An overwhelming surge of public support (five comments) convinced me to continue. But at least I'm doing better than last year, when I waited until the middle of August to acknowledge the passage of another Bike Year. I'm almost a whole month ahead of schedule.

If I could identify one trend in my bicycle experiences over the last year, it would be this: My cycling life has become a lot less solitary. Previously I saw myself as existing apart of the rest of the cycling world. As a transportational cyclist, I didn't fit well into the other local cycling tribes.

But I'm no longer a lone wolf.

You see, I've been able to meet more of my fellow cyclists. And by "meet" I mean that I've actually met with them. And ridden bikes with them. And stood around waiting for television reporters with them. This is very different from Bike Year One, when most of my bicycle pals lived on the Internet. Before April of this year, the largest group I'd ever ridden with included three other cyclists (Well, at least as an adult. I remember riding in some large pods of BMX bikes as a kid). Over the last three months I've shared pleasant rides with groups ranging from 30 to 250 others. And there's another ride coming up this Sunday.

What accounts from the remarkable change in direction? Three words: Savannah Bicycle Campaign.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Better car designs needed

While there have been advancements in automobile designs over the years, they remain in many ways very primitive machines. Sure, you can have an in-car theater system installed or get a GPS thingy to tell you where to turn, but the modern motorist still faces the same old problems as his or her ancestors back in the caveman days.

For instance, facing forward is good for seeing what's in front of the car and all, but there are certain situations in which it is a major hassle. Imagine that you are trying to steer your car while simultaneously screaming obscenities at a bicyclist who is following in your starboard wake. There are really no good options. The only practical way to handle this is to stick your head out of the window, turn to your right and try to yell over the top of the car with your chin hovering above the roof.

Detroit, can you help with this, please?

I discovered recently how this serious limitation in car design impacts motorists. I watched a woman endure great difficulty as she offered a lengthy critique of how I was operating my vehicle, while at the same time trying to drive her own. Some of the only bits of her lecture I was able to make out were, "get your dumb ass out of the road," and what a presume was a threat. At least I think that she was insinuating with, "I'll run your ass over."

Truth be told, I invited the chain of events that led to her impromptu, but impassioned speech. There's a squeeze point on my homeward bound commute just south of Anderson Street. Because there are almost always cars parked on the street around the intersection, my habit is to take the lane, communicating to motorists that it is not safe to pass. In almost every case motorists recognize what I'm doing and wait until I clear the row of parked cars and move right before passing me.

I guess I didn't move far enough left in the lane, because the motorist I've described above decided to pass me with just inches between her right fender and my left elbow. Displeased, I sounded my horn. This startled her front seat passenger, who — since he was not wearing a seat belt — nearly jumped into her lap. It took her a couple seconds to take stock of the situation, but once she had a read on it, her head and torso were outside the car. Luckily, she was not wearing a seat belt either, so she was able to quickly assume screaming position.

She kept it up for about a block, periodically swerving into the other lane. I pedaled along watching her grapple with her car's obvious design flaw. She'd launch a burst of profanity, then pop back into the car to check her rear view mirror for my reaction. Employing a strategy I'd read about on the Internet, each time she emerged to deliver her missives, I smiled and waved. This spurred her to on to several encores. Until she eventually turned onto a side street.

Meanwhile, the hit and run driver who injured two cyclists on Tybee Road is still at large.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Two cyclists injured in hit and run on Tybee Road, driver sought by police

WTOC-TV and WSAV-TV report that two cyclists were hit on U.S. Highway 80 near Fort Pulaski on Friday. From one of the victims:
"I've been told it was a white van and it's missing the passenger rear view mirror and passenger head lamp," said Chiang. "I hope they turn themselves in or someone find them because it's not right to leave two kids when they have been hit by a car, not right at all."
Read the full story here and here.

A story in today's Savannah Morning News gives more information and reports the driver is still at large:

"You hate to think it was intentional, but it sure looked that way," said Jim Pedrick, who witnessed the incident along with his wife. Pedrick, a Lafarge Cement Co. worker, said his wife alerted him of the bicyclists on the shoulder of U.S. 80, so he changed lanes to allow for more room. "I was going 50 miles per hour, so the truck had to be going faster than me," Pedrick said After the pickup struck both bicyclists, the driver sped off toward Savannah, Pedrick said.

Anyone with information on the hit and run is asked contact the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department or Crime Stoppers 912-234-2020.

This is the second time this year a motorist has hit a cyclist and left the scene. Back in January a cyclist was hit and seriously injured by a hit and run driver downtown. And last night a child was killed by a hit and run driver on Abercorn Street. That murderous motorist is also still at large.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Exposing the media bicycle bias

Recently on a television program called "Fox & Friends," I caught the end of a report from a youthful correspondent, who interviewed other young people about their use of bicycles for transportation. Her conclusion: While there are some benefits to getting around on a bike, that doesn't change the fact that riding bicycles is, as everyone knows, for nerds.

Thanks for telling it like it is, Fox!

Yet this morning on "Today," NBC's man in Miami approvingly covered the "growing popularity" of bicycle commuting. Kerry Sanders was actually aboard a bicycle as he filed his report, which included an adult female who rides her bike to work and — get this — also rides the thing to the grocery store and uses it to handle other errands. No mention was made of her social awkwardness or fan fiction hobby.

I became suspicious.

Meanwhile, back over on "Fox & Friends," the crew welcomed "radio heavyweights Rick and Bubba" for a segment that Fox Friend Brian Kilmeade proclaimed "flat out fun." Take heart Americans! The "two sexiest fat men alive" have a three pronged plan to solve the problem of high fuel prices. And no, nerds, none of them involve bicycles:

1. Eliminate all taxes on gasoline.
2. Drill for all the oil that's sloshing around under our feet here right here in the U.S.A.
3. Invade other countries and take their oil by force. This idea, they admitted, might be "a little controversial."

Now that's some first class "family entertainment with Christian values" for you!

Inspired by Rick and Bubba, I set out to expose the "Today" show's pro-bicycle propaganda for what it is. I quickly discovered NBC is in the pocket of Big Bike. Don't believe me? Here's something the folks at the Rainbow Chicken network don't want you to know: According to my secret Internet source, Matt Lauer's father was a "bicycle company executive."

Still don't believe Lauer is a member of the shadowy bicycular elite, determined to use his position at the "Today" anchor desk to further the agenda of radical bicyclists? Check out this incriminating photograph of Lauer I found on a blog associated with a company that fabricates large aluminum tubes:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bike Month Update Part 2

Scofflaw cyclists or skewed perspective?

In a letter to the editor published last week in the Savannah Morning News (scroll down to "Cyclists need road manners, too"), a motorist catalogs traffic infractions committed by a pair of cyclists. While at least one of his charges is valid — riding without lights at dusk is a very bad idea — it's a little hard to follow our narrator's account of having "experienced" two cyclists. They are accused first of traveling fast and then of riding slowly. Our motorist claims the cyclists were riding side by side (legal under state law) but then identifies one of them as the "front rider." Did he encounter them on Habersham Street or Kensington Drive? And how could they turn "into" Reynolds? As far as I can tell neither Habersham nor Kensington intersects Reynolds.

Contradictory and confusing information aside, our motorist's chief complaint seems to be that the cyclists were "backing up traffic" as he "patiently waited," prevented from "swinging around them" by oncoming traffic. What if we look at the scenario from a different angle? Maybe these cyclists were every bit the rude, reckless and irresponsible individuals they are portrayed to be, but how does this chain of events appear when not viewed through the windshield?

Could it be that the cyclists were taking the lane to prevent our motorist from endangering their lives? State law allows cyclists to move to the center of the lane when it is too narrow to share safely with a motor vehicle. Our motorist notes that one cyclist made an impolite hand gesture as he overtook them. Is that such a surprise? Would he not be upset if he was in the midst of a left turn when another motorist passed on his left?

But the real question is this: Has our motorist written similar letters to the editor chronicling the hazardous driving he witnesses on a daily basis? Surely he sees many more examples of reckless behavior perpetrated by other motorists. If he doesn't see them, then he's driving around with his eyes closed. What makes the cyclists more suitable targets of a scolding letter than the inattentive and aggressive drivers, who are much more common on local streets and represent a much greater danger to our motorist and other roadway users?

Finally, our motorist warns cyclists that "they are not going to fare as well as the vehicle they come in contact with." I've not met a single cyclist who thinks he or she is going to come out on top in a collision with a car. That's not to say that cyclists don't make bad decisions. It's just that they are not motivated by the belief that they will emerge unscathed from a car vs. bike crash. And really, which party should shoulder the most responsibility? Seems to me it should be the operator of the vehicle most likely to cause injury or death.

Another commuting first

My commute to work yesterday was unlike any I've ever made. From Victory Drive all the way to Huntington Street, I saw only a handful of cars and none of them were anywhere near me. I saw them way up in the distance, but I never shared the same block of Lincoln Street with them. However, I did see a dozen other cyclists. Of course I recognize that a lot of people had the day off because of the holiday, but it sure was nice to imagine what it would be like if cyclists outnumbered motorists every day.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bike Month Update

I've been warned

I awoke last Sunday morning to the sound of thunder. How far off I sat and wondered. Started humming a song from 1976 and for the rest of the day I couldn't get "Night Moves" out of my head.

Rain was in the forecast, so I jumped on the bike and went out for a ride. I figured I'd be inside for the rest of the day. I was heading east on Washington Avenue when a silver Crown Victoria overtook me. Just before it passed, I received a blast from its horn. I caught up with the driver as she was exiting the car at the corner of Washington and Waters. I said good morning and asked if she could please resist the urge honk at cyclists as she passed.

She said, "I honked to warn you that I was behind you."

I said, "I knew you were there. Blowing your horn wasn't necessary."

She said, "You were in the middle of the road and you should have a light on the back of your bike."

For the record, I was not in the middle of the road. I was actually farther right than I usually ride. And I did my Planet Bike Superflash was on the back of my bike. It wasn't on. But, obviously she saw me and honked so why was she suggesting that I needed a light? Somewhat befuddled, I managed this reply.

I said, "The problem with honking at a cyclist is that your attempt to warn them might actually startle them into your path."

She said, "You were in the middle of the road," and started to walk away.

I said, "Please, just think twice before honking at a cyclists again," and wished her a pleasant morning.

A mirror image commute

Monday brought a first for me. Despite the fact that I've commuted to work on a bicycle almost every day for a couple years now, I've never found myself in the company of the same bicycle commuter on both the way to work and the way home. But this morning, a guy on a gold Specialized mountain bike pulled up next to me as I waited for the light to change at the corner of Habersham Street and Victory Drive. That afternoon, he pulled up next to me on the other side of the same intersection. We started talking and I discovered he's the guy who wrote this excellent letter to the editor (scroll down past Tom Barton's head to "'Dump the Pump' is a great start").

Test riding the Wheelie

After work I quickly changed clothes and pedaled over to Historic Grayson Stadium to meet up with other members of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign. Our purpose was to reconnoiter the route for Sunday's Savannah Wheelie ride, which will include the mysterious Police Memorial Trail and portions of the Parkside Historic District. Everyone who rides in the Wheelie can purchase a ticket to see the Savannah Sand Gnats take on the Greenville Drive for $2 off the normal general admission price.

Official Endorsements

While I'm very pleased that Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson and Chatham County Commission Chairman Pete Liakakis participated in last month's Savannah Wheelie ride, I'm even more impressed with the ongoing commitment to cycling demonstrated by other city officials. Mary Landers catalogs some of them in her story about yesterday's Dump the Pump Coffee Break.

From the Bike Year Mailbag

Jason: Roc Bike is the first missing link that's no longer missing.

Christy: I'm presume you've tried Bicycle Link, Quality Bikes, Island Cycles and Star Bikes? If so, I guess your only other option is to keep an eye open for a trailer to show up on Craig's List or watch for a new trailer to go on sale from Nashbar or another mail order house. I have seen trailers at Goodwill, but not on a regular basis. Sorry I can't be of more help.

Matt: I'm glad you're OK. You should certainly get the driver's number if you are hit by a car. What's more, I'd say you should call the police as well. Why? To understand how many car vs. bicycle crashes occur, it's important that these incidents are reported. I didn't follow my own advice when this happened to me and I realize now I made a mistake.

Monday, May 05, 2008

In search of missing links/First Bike Month post

Last month I started work on a little rehab project here at Bike Year. As some of you may have noticed, I failed to measure twice and cut once. The result being I lopped off the links section. So, if you keep a bicycle-related blog and include Bike Year as a link from your site, please let me know in in the comments section so I can reciprocate.

In other news, I thought I'd celebrate Bike Month by returning to this site's roots. Throughout May I'm going to post boring accounts of my commutes and other utility cycling non-adventures. Not since the thrilling post about the guy pulling the lawnmower in the bike lane has this URL seen so much excitement. I'm sure everyone is hanging on the edges of their seats awaiting the first astonishing episode, so without further delay, away we ride:

I'm noticed that dispensing stations are charging higher prices for car juice these days. Some folks are saying the prices are too high, despite the fact that my fellow Americans and I don't even pay full price for the gasoline we use. In fact, two of my fellow citizens are floating a crazy scheme that will actually accelerate demand and increase prices!

Still, I didn't see much evidence that higher prices are influencing local driving habits this morning (nor did I notice any change two and a half years ago, when gas prices spiked to then record levels). Motorists still seem willing to burn extra fuel to escape the humiliation of driving behind a cyclist. This is the case even when the race to overtake a bicycle clearly ends just yards ahead at a stop sign or traffic signal. And vehicles of all types are left idling, sometimes in bicycle lanes.

As I approached the corner of Lincoln and Henry streets this morning, I received a warning horn blast from a woman piloting an westbound Jaguar. My speed on approach to the intersection was perhaps 5 miles per hour. Hers was — by my estimation — at least 45. Presumably she sounded her horn, to dissuade me from pedaling into her path. In doing so, she demonstrated a mindset I often detect in rants from motorists who claim cyclists' well-being as the basis for their exhortations:

"Don't these crazy 'bikers' realize they are not cars?"

"If they want to ride in the middle of the street, I can't be held responsible for running over them!"

"Why don't they ride on the sidewalk where it's safe? They must have a death wish!"

Truly, I don't think anyone wants to hit a cyclist. But there's a sort of cognitive dissonance at work here when motorists claim to have cyclists' best interest in mind, while operating (and storing) their vehicles in ways which endanger others. If the Jaguar driver above was seriously concerned about others' safety, would she be exceeding the speed limit in a dense urban neighborhood populated by pedestrians and cyclists, including children?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Savannah Bicycle Campaign is front page news

I was very happy to see the Savannah Bicycle Campaign's April 14 press conference on the front page of the Savannah Morning News this morning. Above the fold, even! You can read Chuck Mobley's excellent story and see John Carrington's photos here.

WTOC and WJCL/Fox 28 also made the scene. A short text summary is available on the WTOC site. And now Summer Teal Simpson has blogged about SBC on the Creative Coast's "Relocated Thinking."

UPDATE: Just found Jim Morekis' story, "Cycling into the future" in this week's Connect Savannah.

More information on joining the Savannah Bicycle Campaign and upcoming events including the Earth Day Savannah Wheelie Ride is available on the SBC Web site.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

April 14, 2008: A date that will live in Savannah cycling history

In his 1984 book "The Squares: An Introduction to Savannah," the late Chan Sieg described Johnson Square this way: "If there is one square that can be said to represent the 'essential Savannah,' it is Johnson. The first square to be laid out and named by Oglethorpe, Johnson has never relinquished the title."

The square has been the scene of many important gatherings of Savannah's citizens, including the mass meeting stirred by the news of President Lincoln's death (depicted in the Harper's Weekly illustration above). In the 1990s, the square was the rendezvous point where be-caped dorks came together to play that ridiculous vampire role playing game on Friday and Saturday nights.

On Monday, Johnson Square will be the site of an equally historic event in the lives of Savannah bicyclists. Will they declare their independence from the United States? Ride their bikes through the square in violation of city ordinance? Fashion homemade jerseys to wear in the Tour de Georgia?

All kidding aside, Monday will be a pretty important day for Savannah cyclists. A press conference will be held on April 14 at 11 a.m. in Johnson Square in Downtown Savannah. The event marks the official launch of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign. The group was organized to work through the political, public policy, and citizen advocacy processes to develop more and better bicycle facilities in Savannah—improved bike lanes, racks, and signage—and to plan and initiate a public campaign to educate bicyclists and drivers about safe practices on and off the roadways. More information is available on the Savannah Bicycle Campaign Web site.

I'm proud to be part of the SBC and I'm hopeful that the group can make real progress in improving conditions for cyclists. The group boasts a diverse membership and is bringing together Savannah's disparate cycling tribes: commuters, racers, tourers, utility cyclists, recreational cyclists and fixed gear riding college students. By uniting under the SBC banner, Savannah cyclists have a much better shot at success than they would working independently.

I invite all bicyclists to join us at the press conference. I want to see diverse group of cyclists turn out for the press conference to demonstrate that citizens of all walks of life are interested in making Savannah safer and friendlier to cyclists.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mr. Jalopy turns his attention to bicycles

One of my favorite non-bicycle blogs is Hoopty Rides. It's creator, Mr. Jalopy, chronicles his efforts to find and care for aging automobiles, cans of motor oil, water slide decals and other objects that catch his eye. Mr. Jalopy has a unique approach to cultivating and curating these items. While he may polish up an old set of Craftsman wrenches from time to time, he is at ease with the rust, dents and other signs of age that show up on things bought at yard sales or at flea markets. Here's how he described a 1954 Chevrolet he was offering for sale back in 2004:

"The paint is thin and the rust is everywhere. It is extraordinary looking in the way a giant boulder is magnificent, or perhaps, a charging buffalo. There are colors on this car that exist only in nature. Indescribable deep rich hues that are impossible to categorize but are immediately familiar. A very nice, tattered, very beat up, wonderfully patina'd car of great integrity for $2250."

I've adopted Mr. Jalopy's philosophy and applied it to my attempts to rehabilitate old bicycles. Plus, since I lack the skill or patience to restore bicycles to their original condition, embracing imperfection saves me lots of frustration.

But that's not why I'm writing about Mr. Jalopy on Bike Year. I mention him here because of his new project, Coco's Variety Store.

Presuming that it actually exists, I would nominate it for one of the greatest retail concepts introduced so far this century. But here's the really cool thing: As you can see from the photo above, used bicycles are one of Coco's main product lines. And here's how Mr. Jalopy describes this portion of the store's inventory:

"Coco's is engaged in the refurbishment, repair and sale of used bicycles. From the scrap iron dealer's mud puddle, we buy bikes that nobody else wants. We buy junkers, clunkers, road bikes, mountain bikes, banana seat specials, fixies, department store cheapies, step through ten speeds, heavy bikes, skip tooth relics, 80's splatter paint disasters, suspension bikes, BMX tricksters, track bikes, cruisers, bruisers and midnight losers."

But why bicycles?

"We believe the bicycle with the greatest positive impact on the environment is a fading champion that has already served a meaningful life and is resuscitated for a second chance at glory."

And I would nominate it for one of the greatest sentences written about bicycles so far this century.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cycling in the parking lane

Motorists parking in bike lanes is not a Savannah-specific occurrence. In fact, I've learned that in New York City public officials are assigned special placards that allow them not to park not just in bicycle lanes, but on grave sites, in the living rooms of private residences and on top of pedestrians.

It's really not such a big deal to move a couple feet into the lane to avoid a stationary car. Still, I become a little angry when, on my way to work, I encounter motor vehicles parked in Lincoln Street the bicycle lane. My trouble is I can't ignore the fact that this is the only pavement marked lane in all of downtown Savannah. There are plenty of places to park, but only one bike lane.

As I passed the white Chevy Tahoe parked in the bike lane just south of Anderson Street this morning, I turned to face the woman at the wheel. She seemed to be quite happy sitting in her car listening to music. We made eye contact. I pointed to the "bike lane" and "towing enforced" signs located about 10 feet away from her windshield. Then I pointed at the pavement. Then at my bike.

Then she looked at me like I had lost my mind.

Hers was absolutely the correct response. After all, if it wasn't OK to park in the bike lane, the police officer driving the marked patrol car, which rolled past her about a minute before I did, probably would have stopped and said something. It's clear I'm the one who needs to get with the program.

I used to call the police non-emergency number to report cars parked in the bike lane. Sometimes I heard a sympathetic voice on the other end of the line. Too many times, though, I was met with a different response: "A bicycle is parked in the what now?" Even when I repeated that a car was parked in the bike lane, I'm was treated as if I called to report a squirrel in the tree outside my front door. The dispatcher understood what I was saying, but there was no corresponding recognition that a car parked in a bike lane was a problem.

Lest anyone think I'm bashing the cops, I'm not. It's just that enforcing parking regulations just doesn't seem to be in the job description. In the National Historic Landmark District, creative parking techniques will eventually attract the attention of Parking Services. But outside of the historic district, I'm convinced cars can remain unlawfully parked indefinitely.

For instance, within a three block stretch of East 49th Street I saw four cars parked on or otherwise blocking sidewalks on a recent evening. This does not include the cars parked on the tennis courts at Savannah Arts Academy (Why does this parking lot have nets on it?) or the motor scooter that had been stored on the sidewalk near the intersection with East Atlantic Street for weeks.

Another example: On the northeast corner of Anderson and Habersham streets, the crosswalk is connected to the sidewalk via a slightly sloped ramp covered in textured brick. What's the purpose of this? Could it be to allow a person in a wheel chair to transition between the crosswalk and the sidewalk? Perhaps it makes it easy on older folks who have a hard time making it over the curb?


This feature marks the spot often occupied by the right front tire of the illegally parked Roberts Furniture delivery truck. I guess it's handy for the driver. When he feels the tire drop into that depression, he can be certain that the cab of the truck has completely blocked the crosswalk. There's no guesswork involved!

The City of Savannah has recently mounted and vigorous and well publicized anti-blight campaign. According to recent news coverage, inspectors are especially interested in old jalopies languishing in residents' front yards. Here's a snip from a recent Savannah Morning News story:

"People should know by now that parking a car on the front lawn is against city law, the inspectors said."

Luckily for these people, parking a car in a bike lane or on the sidewalk or even on a public school tennis court is permitted.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Savannah Bicycle Campaign launches Web site

As I write this, the newly organized Savannah Bicycle Campaign is holding its second meeting. I'm sorry I can't be there. Here's what the SBC hopes to achieve:

Our objectives are to work through the political process to develop more and better bicycle facilities for Savannah—improved bike lanes, racks, and signage—and to develop a public campaign to educate bicyclists and drivers about safe practices on and off the roadways. Ultimately, we hope to foster an inclusive approach to make our communities more livable, connected, and safe.

The Savannah Bicycle Campaign welcomes members from all sectors of the cycling community. Recreational, transportational and competitive cyclists are all invited to get involved. If you ride for environmental, economic or health reasons — or just for the fun of it — the door's open. Find out how to get involved here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

On Commuting

I wrote another story for the faculty/staff newspaper at the Savannah College of Art and Design. This time the topic was how to get started in the exciting world of bicycle commuting. Want to read it? Click here.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Who speaks for the bikes?

Gather a group of Savannah bicyclists in a room and they will invariably begin to share accounts of near misses involving inattentive or aggressive motorists. They'll compare notes on which portions of the Lincoln Street bike lane are most often blocked by parked cars. It happens every time cyclists come together, just as it did in a meeting I attended today.

Of course, there are some communities in which cyclists have it tougher than we do. And there are others in which cyclists can feel confident that the city's highest elected official has their backs. I suppose Savannah is somewhere in the middle. Or maybe it's more accurate to say we are in limbo. It could be worse, but it could be much better.

Is it time for a bicycle advocacy group to organize and lobby for infrastructure improvements, law enforcement initiatives and educational campaigns that will make Savannah's streets safer for transportational cyclists? What form would such a group take? What would be it's mission? How could it cooperate with our cousins in the realm of recreational cycling? Is there common ground to be found with those working to improve public transportation and pedestrian facilities? What would the group be called? How often would it meet? Would there be food at the meetings?

Please share your ideas in the comments section.

(This item was cross posted on Sustainable Savannah)

Monday, January 28, 2008

On Safety

Last week I wrote a story about bicycle safety for the faculty/staff newspaper at the Savannah College of Art and Design. David Crites of Georgia Bikes! provided excellent information on short notice. I'm very grateful for his help. Want to read it? Click here.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cog Bicycle Cooperative is open for business

Cog, formerly known as The Savannah Bike Co-op, opened for business yesterday. Mary Landers interviewed Paul McLaughlin, the co-op's president, for her story "Fix a bike, or build one, at new co-op called Cog" in the Savannah Morning News. Here's a snip:

"The co-op is for everyone, regardless of gender, age or income, said the easy-going, red-bearded McLaughlin. "We'll never refuse service to anyone unless they're being belligerent or something," he said. Local bike shops have been friendly, and McLaughlin said his co-op won't be competition for them. Instead, it could send them new customers by promoting cycling."

I delivered a second batch of parts to Cog (I can move around again in the bike shed!) around 1 p.m. and found plenty of customers and volunteers on hand, despite the inclement weather.

McLaughlin's group is still looking for someone to help the co-op secure non-profit status. If that person is you, e-mail the co-op at

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cyclist seriously injured on Lincoln Street, hit and run driver sought by police

I'm not sure how many people still monitor this blog. I've devoted most of my attention recently to Sustainable Savannah, leaving Bike Year untended. I'm considering reviving bike year, but in the meantime, I thought the following information was critical to post here, as I've frequently written about the Lincoln Street bike lane.

If you regularly operate a bicycle in Savannah, your friends and relatives will worry about you. Yesterday I was on the Southside when my cell phone vibrated. The caller said she saw police cars on Lincoln Street and a cyclist on the ground. She wanted to make sure it wasn't me.

This morning I was alerted to the alarming details (Thanks, Clint).
Savannah-Chatham Police are searching for the driver of a car that ran over and seriously injured a bicyclist Thursday morning. The crash occurred shortly after 10 a.m. at the intersection of Wayne and Lincoln streets.

The complete story is here.

I'm glad the police are taking this seriously. In a city in which residents seem perpetually obsessed with violent crime, it's important to remember the motor vehicles can be weapons. Or, as Lt. Scott Simpkins, commander of the Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police department's traffic division, said in a Jan. 4 Savannah Morning News story:
"Killing someone with your car is somehow more acceptable than shooting them," Simpkins said. "This should not be the case."

Police are asking for help finding the driver, a white female in her 20s, who sped away in a white passenger car after hitting the cyclist. Anyone for more information should call 652-6650 or call CrimeStoppers at 234-2020.