Monthly Archives: November 2007

Kicking the car habit: Forums provide advice

In many ways Savannah is ideally suited for bicycle transportation because of the flat terrain and mild climate (at least this time of year). While many regard bicycles as toys or sporting goods, there are a growing number of people who see bikes the same way they are described in our state traffic laws: as vehicles. In fact, for people who go car free, bicycles become their cars.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of bicycles sold in this country are not suitable replacements for automobiles. Imagine strolling into a local car dealership and finding cars without headlights or that had no capacity for carrying cargo. That’s the scenario at our nation’s bicycle shops. There are plenty of machines for riding on trails or tackling a weekend century, but very few suitable for commuting to work or for bringing home a week’s worth of groceries from the store. But that may be changing. City bikes, commuting bikes and utility bikes are becoming more viable retail categories. Also, almost any bicycle can be modified with fenders, lights, racks and bags to make it more like a vehicle and less like a piece of exercise equipment.

Still, the average person, who doesn’t own a set of blue-handled tools or who has never carried more then a cellphone on a bike might have need a little help to get started. Fortunately, the Bike Forums message boards have three areas that may be helpful to people who are attracted to the idea of shedding their cars, or at least leaving them at home more often. The Commuting and Utility Cycling forums offer practical advice, while the Living Car Free forum is a little more ideologically charged.

Like all message boards, extreme opinions abound, but Bike Forum moderators are usually pretty vigilant. Lurking, or even joining the conversation, provides some good ideas about how to find a new bike or modify an existing ride to serve as a practical replacement for a car on many trips.

Thomas makes connection between water and power

In her op-ed column “Frugal power use saves water, too,” published today in theRegina Thomas Savannah Morning News, State Sen. Regina Thomas uses the current drought conditions in North Georgia to remind readers that the difference between a wall socket and a water spigot is negligible in state that relies on nuclear and coal-fired power plants:

“Since most of our electricity comes from coal and nuclear plants that need large amounts of water to operate, even when we turn on our computers or light switches, we are actually using water.”

Thomas suggests that greater energy efficiency has an ancillary benefit in reducing water use. She also points to solar and and wind energy as options that do not require significant water input. Finally, Thomas encourages citizens to comment on the proposed expansion of Plant Vogtle and attend the Georgia Water Coalition’s Local Partners Meeting on Dec. 5 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Sentient Bean.

Photo credit: Georgia State Senate

Recycling proponents declare victory

The e-mail from Stacey Kronquest arrived last night and a story in today’s Savannah Morning News and a report by WSVH’s Orlando Montoya confirmed the news. Curbside recycling is coming to Savannah.

Recycling opponents around the country have been very successful in pushing the notion that recycling should pay for itself or even generate income. Yet the same requirement is not imposed on other government services. Do we expect city streets to turn a profit? Of course not.

Nonetheless, I think curbside recycling will produce a financial benefit for the city. Visitors from other communities are often surprised when they learn that recycling is not offered in Savannah. While I doubt that many people would decide to leave town or elect not to move here because we don’t offer it, curbside recycling serves as an indicator of where a city falls in the spectrum of sustainability. The lack of curbside recycling is a big red flag for green folks. If they are considering moving themselves or their businesses here, the fact that we don’t currently offer recycling pickup may tell them all they need to know about Savannah.

How important are a community’s sustainability practices in attracting new residents and businesses? A story in this morning’s USA Today may provide some clues. “Job sites go green to please workers” finds that, “a growing number of employers are going green, putting greater emphasis on reducing their impact on the environment.”

A survey conducted by Adecco, the story reports, found that 33 percent of employees “would be more inclined to work for a company that is environmentally conscious.”

Can we make a similar assumption that 33 percent of people would be more inclined to live in a community that is environmentally conscious? It’s an important question for a city that the U.S. Census says is losing population.

USGBC – Savannah Chapter holiday party

Tickets for the The third annual USGBC Savannah Holiday Party are available from Chapter Board members or at the following locations: Melaver, Inc offices, Lominack Kolman Smith offices, Coastal Civil Engineering.

Tickets are $25 for non-chapter members, and $20 for members and include heavy hor’s duerves and open bar. Tickets can be purchased Vessela Valtcheva at Dawson +Wissmach, Jennifer Deacon at Lominack Kolman Smith, Tom Havens at Coastal Civil Engineering, or Tommy Linstroth at Melaver, Inc. For more information, visit the chapter’s Web site.