Monthly Archives: April 2009

The next step in local recycling

1While the city’s new curbside recycling program has made plenty of news this year, today’s announcement of a new partnership between the City of Savannah and St. Joesph’s/Candler represents a significant step in a new direction.

In a press release, hospital President and CEO Paul P. Hinchey said, “If a system our size can do it, anyone can, I would like to officially challenge Savannah businesses and every other large commercial waste customer to join the city’s single stream recycling effort.”

Hospital officials credit employees with originating the idea and asking management to create a recycling program. By partnering with the city, the hospital expects to reduce its solid waste costs by 25 percent. Starting such a program from scratch could have cost more than $200,000, according to estimates from St. Joseph/Candler’s.

Will Hinchey’s challenge be answered a by other local businesses? A casual observer can see corrugated cardboard and other recyclable materials piling up in or near Dumpsters at commercial operations of all kinds. What role can employees and customers play in convincing other businesses to “get with the program,” as they did at St. Joseph’s?

13th Annual Earth Day Recyclerama

Savannah’s 13th Annual Earth Day Festival and Recyclerama is scheduled for April 18t in Forsyth Park.  The Recyclerama will take place from 8 a.m. -11 a.m. and will accept paint, tires (4 per vehicle), oil, electronics, old furniture, eye glasses, cell
phones, batteries, and computers.

The Festival runs from 11a.m. -3 p.m. with diverse exhibitors, workshops, food, and live music.  Cap off the day with the Earth Day Savannah Wheelie Bike Ride at 3 p.m., which ends at Blowin Smoke BBQ restaurant. For more information, visit the Savannah Earth Day Festival Web site.

Dump the Pump has been rescheduled, but don’t let that stop you from riding to work

The Savannah Bicycle Campaign’s Dump the Pump Bicycle Commuting event, originally scheduled for April 3 has been rescheduled for April 10, for the reasons described here.

Still, there’s nothing stopping experienced cyclists from riding anyway. As one Savannah Bicycle Campaign member reminded me today, there are things worse than riding through rain. Bicycling to work in another city, he often arrived with a frozen beard on a bike that had walrus tusk handlebars and icicles for spokes. Or something like that. In other words, some cyclists regularly deal with greater atmospheric hardships than rain on their daily commutes. Indeed, the rain is manageable with the right gear, so allow me to recommend a bicycle cape.

Sheriff defends the right to speed

picture-3An editorial by J. Tyson Stephens, sheriff of Emanuel County, in today’s Savannah Morning News takes aim at the recently passed “Super Speeders” law, calling it “nothing more than another tax (some legislators call it a fee) on our citizens and it mainly effects the working poor and lower middle class in this state.”

The law levies $200 fines on motorists caught going 75 mph on two-lane roads. Motorists flying down four lane roads would need to reach 85 mph before the increased fines kick in. The revenue generated by fines would help fund Georgia’s trauma centers, often the destination for those seriously injured in traffic crashes.

Stephens presents a hypothetical scenario in which “a single mother who is already having a hard time financially is running late for work and to drop off the kids at day care” when, “she finds herself behind a slower moving construction vehicle and increases her speed to pass it.” The result? “Officers stop her for speeding at 76 mph in a 55 mph zone.”

The the sheriff reminds us that, “In rural Georgia, there is no such thing as public transportation.” And that’s a big problem. But how does that make unsafe driving OK? Consider this information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Speeding is one of the most common contributing factors of traffic crashes. Data extracted from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System show that the driver-level attribute “driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted speed limit” is the critical contributing factor in more than 99 percent of all speeding-related fatal crashes, as defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

I appreciate Stephens’ concern for the financial burden on Emanuel County citizens, but then there’s the suggestion that “car crashes cost U.S. motorists $164.2 billion a year, or about $1,051 per person.” This figure prompted one person to suggest that, “It’s time for motor vehicle crashes to be viewed as the public health threat they are.” Who said that? Some safety weenie or egghead who doesn’t understand the needs of rural drivers? Nope, the above quote comes from none other than Robert L. Darbelnet, president and chief executive of the American Automobile Association.

Study finds shady streets are popular with tourists and good for business

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Monday I was sitting in Calhoun Square, when a tourist struck up a conversation with me.

“Are you lucky enough to live in this beautiful city?” she asked.

I said I was.

“I’m from Miami,” she said. “We have trees, but nothing like this,” pointing to the canopy overhead.

This visitor’s high opinion of Savannah’s urban forest is not unique, according to a recently concluded three-year study conducted by researchers at the Georgia Forestry Commission and the West Virginia University. According to Susan Reich, urban and community forestry coordinator at the GFC and Jinyang Deng of WVU, Savannah was selected as a study area “due to its renowned urban forest canopy in the historic district and well-managed urban forest.” The other study city was Washington D.C.

Part of the research in Savannah was conducted via interviews with tourists at the Savannah Visitors Center. Findings include:

“Results show that on a percentage scale ranging from 0 to 100, urban forests contribute 69.9 percent to the city’s beauty, 67.8 percent to the city’s image, 69.6 percent to the city’s attractiveness and 66.1 percent to a visitor’s tourism experience. In addition, urban forests account for 54.7 percent of the reasons cited for visiting the city, and were ranked second only to historical sites among eight attributes listed.”

The research confirms that historic sites are the main attractors, but that their power is amplified by the presence of the Savannah’s trees. Deng and Reich describe it this way:

“… urban forests are also a must-see attribute for most visitors who were motivated to visit the city primarily by its historical attractions. As one visitor noted, ‘The trees are an important part of Savannah and are what makes the city so beautiful, along with the architecture. It would not be the same city without them, nor would they attract tourists without them.'”

It’s important to remember our tree canopy’s role in the local economy, especially when trees are slated for removal to make way for road widening, parking lot construction and other invasive developments that are often promoted as drivers  of economic growth. Reich and Deng underscore the relationship between trees and commerce by referencing previous research.

“… shady streets in business districts invite people to linger and shop longer, and studies show people spend up to 10 pecent more money when shopping on tree-lined streets.”

For more information about community tree management and care, download the The Georgia Model Urban Forest Book or contact the Georgia Forestry Commission at 800-GATREES.

Photo by Zoom Zoom via Flickr.