Monthly Archives: November 2008

Slower streets make safer neighborhoods

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Before it somehow deteriorated into a round of profanity laced exchanges about presidential politics, my neighborhood’s e-mail list was host to a discussion about motor vehicles traveling at excessive speeds through residential areas. It began with a lament over a beloved cat that was killed by a speeding car and yielded suggestions for signage, police enforcement and traffic calming. Except the words “traffic calming” weren’t initially used. Instead, the words were “speed bumps.”

While traffic calming includes a vast array of tools that can be used to modify driver behavior, a lot of people are familiar only with speed bumps. And when speed bumps are mentioned, someone will immediately remind us that “the city is hostile and unresponsive to any suggestion of speed bumps,” to quote one of my neighbors, because they interfere with the travel of emergency vehicles.

How real is this concern? I attended a Federal Highway Administration workshop on designing for pedestrian safety this summer and the facilitator suggested local governments play the emergency vehicle egress card more often than they should. And again, if speed bumps truly are problematic, why not evaluate the suitability of other traffic calming techniques?

Just before the e-mail discussion derailed into the name-calling described above, several participants suggested looking to other communities for examples of how to address speeding and more than a few people recommended Atlanta neighborhoods as worthy of examination.

Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety, a group I joined during my second stint as an Atlantan, seems to have anticipated the question. On the front page of the group’s Web site is a document that promises to offer nine “effective strategies for putting the brakes on neighborhood speeders.” You can download a copy by clicking here.

What are the nine things neighbors can do?

1. Spread the word about the problem.
2. Use yard signs to remind drivers to slow down.
3. Set the pace by driving slowly through neighborhoods.
4. Buy inexpensive radar gun to document the problem.
5. Park more cars on the street to narrow the travel lane.
6. Ask for traffic calming projects.
7. Request radars signs.
8. Support speed cameras.
9. Reclaim the streets by walking and bicycling.

PEDS also created a public service announcement to drive home how much difference even 5 mph can make. You can watch it here.

Savannah Tree Foundation looks to the west

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The Savannah Tree Foundation is directing its attention outside of the Savannah city limits, with a tree planting in Pooler scheduled for Nov. 15. According to the foundation’s Adrienn Mondonca, working in western Chatham county indicates a new area of concern.

“This is the second tree planting our organization has done in Pooler and one of a handful we have done in the western reaches of Chatham County.  It represents a new focus for our organization on the west side of our community, where development trends have resulted in tree canopy loss over a number of years”

The foundation will need 100 volunteers  to help plant 200 trees at the new Pooler Recreation Complex located off Pooler Parkway. Volunteers should bring gloves, hard-tined rakes and shovels if possible. Refreshments and t-shirts will be provided, and community service hours are available. This is a rain or shine event. Partners in the planting are  the City of Pooler, Forklifts & Bobcat of Savannah, Georgia Power, Melaver, Inc. and Vermeer Southeast.

For more information, visit the Savannah Tree Foundation Web site.

Photo courtesy of the Savannah Tree Foundation.

Time for Savannah to chicken out?

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A story from today’s Christian Science Monitor, “Whole lotta clucking going on in cities” suggests that more Americans raising chickens in their backyards. Keeping chickens is part of a larger urban homesteading movement and is popular with folks who like to “eat local” or who are concerned about factory farm conditions, according to the article.

Angelina Shell of the Seattle Tilth Association, a group that offers sustainable-living classes, suggests that more people will be keeping chickens as the recession gets worse:

“If our economy continues on the downward spiral,” says Ms. Shell, a third-generation poultry hobbyist, “you’re going to see a lot more people raising their own chickens in their backyards and starting up vegetable gardens.”

Some communities are not so keen on the idea:

“Still, chickens aren’t always popular with neighbors in city and suburban neighborhoods. Chicago Alderman Lona Lane proposed a citywide chicken ban late last year after constituents bombarded her office with complaints about noise, odor, and rodents. But chicken enthusiasts from other parts of the Windy City cried fowl, stalling a final decision. After the holidays, Ms. Lane plans on introducing a new bill to ban chickens in just the neighborhood she represents.”

What about Savannah? Is it legal to keep chickens here? Robin Wright Gunn wrote about urban chicken keeping for Connect Savannah back in August in a piece called “The Big Chicken.”

“At least three friends are the proud owners of chickens that are scratching and laying and living their chickeny lives smack in the middle of town, beneath heirloom camellias in Parkside, or strutting among tasteful lawn statues in Baldwin Park. Each urban chicken flock boasts five hens, the maximum allowed by city ordinance. Rhode Island Reds and Leghorns are among the favored breeds. I love the idea of having friends who have chickens.”

Is this correct? Are Gunn’s friends in Parkside and Baldwin Park in compliance with city ordinances? Is Baldwin Park the hotbed of chicken-keeping it is purported to be? Will the chicken people organize to promote this practice? Are neighbors’ feathers being ruffled over the chickens next door? Please share your answers in the comments section.

Photo credit: Sarah Gilbert via Flickr.

Urban Land Institute panel: “The Next Big Thing in Coastal Development”

“The Next Big Thing in Coastal Development”, an Urban Land Institute panel discussion will be held on Thursday, Nov13 in Bryson Hall on Chippewa Square , beginning at 5 p.m.Because the Georgia and South Carolina coasts are among the fastest growing areas in the United States , this special ULI program will focus on the next big ideas in regional coastal development. Many discussions will take place including, “What are leading developers doing to differentiate their projects and help make them a success?” This program will examine environmentally sensitive development, sustainability, nautical connectivity, consumer preferences and buyer demographics. Learn how these trends influence how developers predict market direction and future development.

More information here

Bike to Beer night at Moon River

Every third Tuesday of each month, ride your bike to Moon River and receive special discount price of $3 on draft beers from 4-7 p.m. and $1 off sandwiches and $3 off entrees. Bikes can be parked inside the restaurant in the back. The Savannah Bicycle Campaign holds its monthly meeting downstairs starting at 6 p.m.