Monthly Archives: November 2009

Have lunch with the trees on Dec. 1

Fall Color WalkThe Savannah Tree Foundation suggests supplementing your brown bag with a “leisurely stroll amongst a canopy of gold, red and yellow leaves” in Forsyth Park on Dec. 1. The Fall Color Walk through Forsyth’s Arboretum will be led by Bill Haws, the City of Savannah’s forest administrator. Participants will see different species and cultivars of trees and Haws will discuss how to plant for fall color and diversity. Meet at noon at the fountain. More information is available on the Savannah Tree Foundation Web site.

Changes coming to Chatham Area Transit’s 28 Route

CatEffective Dec. 14, the big bus will no longer take passengers to the big box. The curiously named 28 Waters Road route, which travels down Waters Avenue, will no longer stop at the Super Walmart on Montgomery Crossroad. CAT officials report the discontinuation of the Walmart spur is due to lack of ridership and “hardship of passengers” caused by “late schedules as a result of trips to Walmart.” A new schedule for the route can be downloaded here.

Forsyth Farmers Market season extended through Dec. 19


Folks, who have made a stop at the Forsyth Farmers Market part of their Saturday morning routine, now have more chances to buy locally grown food directly from the farmers, who grew it.  The market’s season, originally scheduled to conclude today, has been extended for another month. What’s the deal with the market?

The Forsyth Farmers Market was organized by the Savannah Local Food Collaborative  with the primary mission of making fresh, regionally grown produce easily accessible to the citizens of Savannah. The market is limited to agricultural and horticultural products.

Located near the tennis courts at the south end of the park, the market lasts from 9 a.m, to 1 p.m. and is open rain or shine. EBT cards are accepted. On the second Saturday of each month, a “Health Pavilion” features lectures and workshops. A schedule is available on the market’s Web site.

Savannah’s Abercorn Street Extension is “Dangerous by Design”

Abercorn at White Bluff

News reports from the Nov. 17 death of a man, who was attempting to cross Abercorn Street Extension, have included a familiar reminder issued by the Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Department, which is automatically echoed in by local media in similar reports:

“Pedestrians should use crosswalks.”

The police and media surely have the best intentions when they use the phrase. Yet on Abercorn Street Extension, the scene of the latest fatality and scores of others, using a crosswalk is often easier said than done. (Besides, as explained here, the causal link between failure to use crosswalks and pedestrian deaths is tenuous). Since most of us view Abercorn Street Extension through our windshields at speeds of 45 m.p.h. (and frequently, faster) we may be unaware that at some points along the street the distance between pavement marked crosswalks is almost a mile.

For instance, imagine you live in the Edgewater Trace Apartment complex and want to mail a package at the U.S. Post Office located directly across the street. Crossing the street using the nearest crosswalk means a round trip of almost a mile. Would you walk a mile to reach a destination you can see just dozens of yards away? How tempted would you be to wait for a break in traffic and dash across?

At other points along Abercorn, crossing mid-block may actually be safer than crossing at intersections. Put yourself in the place of a pedestrian at the corner of Abercorn and White Bluff Road, pictured above (click on the image and try in Google Street View). Is this intersection even possible to traverse on foot? If you want to walk from the Eyeglass World store on the west side of the street to the Michael’s craft store on the east side, using the nearest pavement marked crosswalk, you’ll need to hoof it all the way down to Montgomery Crossroad. Even here, you’ll contend with — by my count — six lanes of traffic. Would you walk half a mile to reach a destination that you can easily see from across the street (provided you picked up your new glasses)?

But who would actually walk on these segments of Abercorn Street? Plenty of people. Again, our windshield view of the world may blind us toDangerous by Design the fact that it’s not the purely commercial corridor we imagine it to be. It’s dotted with apartment complexes and motels. Residential neighborhoods are arrayed on adjacent blocks. Tens of thousands of people live on or within a stone’s throw of Abercorn Street Extension. And some of them were among “more than 43,000 Americans – including 3,906 children under 16 – who have been killed this decade alone, walking along streets in their communities.”

“Children, the elderly, and ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in this figure, but people of all ages and all walks of life have been struck down in the simple act of walking. These deaths typically are labeled “accidents,” and attributed to error on the part of motorist or pedestrian. In fact, however, an overwhelming proportion share a similar factor: They occurred along roadways that were engineered for speeding cars and made little or no provision for people on foot, in wheelchairs or on a bicycle.”

Frequent reminders to use crosswalks will never provide adequate protection for people who live, work and shop on Abercorn Street Extension and other Savannah streets that are “Dangerous by Design.

Acceptance of distracted driving revealed in warning to pedestrians?

don't walk

While researching a recent pedestrian death in Savannah, I ran across this television news report, which I think deserves to be examined on its own. If I’m hearing him correctly, this is the message delivered by a Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police officer:

“Someone could be looking down at their cellphone. Next thing they know they look up and there’s a kid in the road or a person in the road where they are not supposed to be at. And they don’t have time to stop. And like I said, pedestrians will lose that battle every time.”

Perhaps this short comment from the officer was taken from a longer segment in which he railed against distracted driving. I hope that’s the case and if so, I commend him for it. But if not, it suggests a terribly casual attitude toward an awfully dangerous practice.

Motorists staring at cell phones instead of watching the road are a danger to people in crosswalks, outside of crosswalks, on sidewalks, standing at bus stops or anywhere else. Not to mention cyclists and other motorists. Yet, once again, the most vulnerable users of our streets are scolded about jaywalking, which has become the default explanation for pedestrian deaths even when the cause isn’t entirely clear, as described by Tom Vanderbilt recently here:

“While jaywalking is often cited as a cause of pedestrian accidents, less than 20 percent of fatalities occurred where a pedestrian was crossing outside an easily available crosswalk. And police, who largely tend to be in vehicles, often misinterpret such subtleties or exhibit a pronounced pro-driver bias.”

Meanwhile, distracted driving—which kills nearly 6,000 people a year in this country—seems to be brushed off. The officer is correct when he says pedestrians will always lose, especially if we expect so little of drivers.

Photo by hebedesign via Flickr.