Monthly Archives: February 2008

Canoochee River Race and Festival

The April 5 Race benefits the Ogeechee-Canoochee Riverkeeper. Registration begins at 7am. John Boats in the Water at 7:30am and a shotgun start of Open Division at 8am followed by Recreation Division.

Starting line is at The Rocks Landing Hwy 301 Bridge in Claxton.  The
race is 11 miles long and ends at ‘Groveland Park’ Hwy 280 Bridge, Bryan
County and Evans County Line. There will be a shuttle in the morning.  Contestants are asked to unload their boats at the starting line, drive to the finish line to park and then we will provide shuttle back to the starting line. Registration is $35 per paddler, $45 after March 15th.

The Canoochee River Festival will begin at 10 a.m. at  Groveland Park with booths sponsored by the Ogeechee-Canoochee Riverkeeper , the Department of Natural Resources and Georgia Forestry. Additional attractions include a snake and reptile exhibit, boat making demonstration, a Native-American artifacts display, a swamp hollering contest, a frog jumping contest, a bug identification contest and a food vendors.

For more information and to register for the race contact Melanie Hendrix at (912) 764-2017 or mhendrix@ocrk.org

Know how to pull a crank or true a wheel? Cog needs you!

cog.jpg

Cog, Savannah’s bicycle cooperative, needs volunteer mechanics to staff its shop on Tuesday from 4-7 p.m. and Saturdays from noon until 5 p.m. Cog volunteers don’t actually repair bicycles, but rather have the much more important assignment of teaching the co-op’s customers how to fix their own bikes, guiding them through the process of getting their rides ready for the road. Those interested in volunteering can e-mail the shop at savannahcoop[at]gmail.com or stop by the cooperative, located at the corner of East Broad and 39th streets during the hours listed above.

CAT study shows link between “free” parking and transit use

The 2008 – 2012 Chatham Area Transportation Development Plan contains some interesting information describing the relationship between the the availability of free and subsidized parking with low transit use. What’s the connection? When major employers provide free surface or structured parking or pay for employee parking in municipal or private lots, they are they are — very often — encouraging single occupant vehicle commuting. Here’s a snip from a CAT presentation about the plan:

Across the country, interest is generally low among employers in providing transit benefits to employees, and more importantly, for encouraging the use of transit by limiting “free” parking or providing other incentives for alternative transportation modes.

I’m glad the word free is in quotes above because there’s really no such thing as free parking. To be sure, the majority of parking spaces in the city of Savannah do not require motorists to pay additional fees for using them. But that doesn’t mean they are free. It simply means that the cost of building and maintaining parking facilities is folded into other fees, taxes and the prices of goods and services.

And this doesn’t even account for the externalities. Donald Shoup, writing about parking facilities at colleges and universities, poses this question:

The added spaces increase other costs in the transportation system. After all, universities provide new parking options so drivers can use them. We should therefore ask: Do the additional parking spaces increase vehicle travel? If so, how will this added travel increase the external costs of traffic congestion and air pollution? Parking spaces do not create travel, but the clearly enable it.

To his list of externalities I would add the loss of historic structures, damage to the fabric of neighborhoods, and storm water run-off. So, while parking may be advertised as free, we are all paying for it. Even those who don’t drive.

But what does that have to do with public transit? Back to the CAT plan for a moment:

The study team learned that:

  • Respondents were not experienced with incentive programs to reduce employee parking
  • Organizations do not see pressing need for transit benefits given the availability of parking
  • Several public and private agencies provide employees with subsidized rates at public parking facilities

The point is that few major employers offer discounted transit pases or other incentives to use transit, while simultaneously failing to recognize the substantial subsidies they offer automobile commuters in the form of free parking.

What can be done? The CAT plan suggests:

CAT should work with the City of Savannah and Chatham County governments in the development of local policies that:

  • Recognize the true cost of parking (to employer and employee) and provide better incentives to use transit as an alternative to personal automobiles
  • Consider transit as an important tool in both regional mobility and congestion mitigation
  • Strengthen the connection between land use and transportation in planning, zoning policies
  • Plan proactively for transit and pedestrian accessibility in site design and roadway design

It’s a tall order, but progress toward these goals would surely help some of our community’s most pressing problems.

A public meeting about the 2008 – 2012 Chatham Area Transportation Development Plan will be held on Feb. 26 from at 7 p.m. in the Second Floor Commissioners’ Room at Old County Courthouse, 124 Bull St. Copies of the presentation and executive summary are available now on the CAT Web site.

Congressional hopeful to host “Open House on Energy and Environment,” Feb. 28

2265018991_e59aaaee5e_m.jpgBill Gillespie, who is running in Georgia’s First Congressional District invites, “economists, environmentalists and concerned citizens” to an event on Tybee Island, Feb. 28 from 7 – 9 p.m. On the table for discussion: “how to take action to protect our natural resources and how to move America toward an alternative energy economy.” It’s worth noting that Rep. Jack Kingston, who currently represents the First District, received the lowest possible rating from the League of Conservation Voters. To find out more about attending this event, click here.

From little seeds …

430716741_ba4c7afa52_m.jpgJust got off the phone with the local parks service and tomorrow I go to check out the garden plots available for planting—free of charge—by Chatham County residents. The director of recreation told me these plots just west of the city used to fill up every year but that over time the number of active planters (from the “older generation”) has declined.

He hopes some new ones will crop up.

Perhaps my desire to grow my own food, and to do so organically, is just a romantic pipe dream. But I am sure it’s best to find out ASAP with the assistance of county experts who are willing to teach me. I don’t have my own acreage yet, anyway.

Georgia’s “first organic farmer,” Shirley Daughtry, got started on 20 acres in Effingham County after a career in teaching. Since 1990, Heritage Organic Farm in Guyton has been growing and marketing certified organic produce. They offer a box program, and also service area co-ops and health food stores.

Even the most established grower had to start somewhere. According to an online article at www.georgiaorganics.org, Shirley attended conferences in North Carolina and California to learn about sustainable growing practices. These days one may not have to travel so far. The site hosts an extensive listing of growing events and workshops taking place around the state. From small-scale poultry training to composting and herbs-from-seed, a lot of it may be in Decatur, but Georgia’s got it going on.

I am inspired by Shirley and others who continue to learn and draw from the complexity/simplicity of nature. Even as an amateur gardener I have discovered that if I mix up the right “batter” and “tea” for my plantings, they will thrive—way moreso than if I shower them with fertilizers. This much, at least, I have already figured out on my own.

Maybe I have started somewhere.

Photo credit: pictoscribe via www.flickr.com.