Monthly Archives: February 2010

Defending the right to be irresponsible behind the wheel

Picture 5

Forgive the use of this obvious and overused phrase: Americans have very special relationships with their cars. But it’s true and a couple things I read this week reminded me of this.

First, this letter to the editor of the Savannah Morning News (scroll down to “Safe driving a personal responsibility”) that acknowledges the danger of texting while driving, but warns  we should keep government our of our cars.

“People can do what they want while they drive. The state representatives cannot stop anyone from reading and responding to text messages. It is neither their phone nor their car, so they should back off.”

Of course we can do anything we want while we drive. Isn’t that in the constitution or something? But why limit it to cars? I’d like to ride down the middle of Broughton Street on the back of my moderately tame grizzly bear while swinging my baseball bat. Also, I will be blindfolded. While I don’t mean to intentionally hurt anyone, I understand that my bear could maul a bystander and that my bat could conk someone on the head. Still, it’s my bear, my bat and my blindfold. So back off!

If we get government out of our cars, what should they be doing? Our letter writer knows:

“I can understand them feeling responsible for what goes on, but they should be taking care of more important things like fixing roads, helping people who need jobs and insurance, and the necessities that the state has to deal with.”

It is important to note that “fixing roads” is code that usually means widening them to five lanes or more without any consideration given to road users who do not travel in cars. These “fixed” roads are dangerous by design. Two local teenagers were serioulsy injured on one such road this week. At least our letter writer can take solace in the fact that our elected officials are taking care of more important things, like drafting laws that punish drivers who fail to speed.

Series of workshops to imagine MLK without the I-16 overpass

flyover

As reported by the Savannah Bicycle Campaign last week,  The Savannah-Chatham County Metropolitan Planning Commission and the Savannah Development and Renewal Authority are holding a three-day public workshop and charrette “to examine feasibility of removal of the I-16 exit ramps at Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd and Montgomery Street, and to address redevelopment along the 52-block corridor.” The event is scheduled for Feb. 17, 18 and 19 at the Con-Ed Resource Center Ball Room, 714 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. A flier for this event can be downloaded here.

Eric Curl wrote about the potential for flyover removal in the Savannah Morning News last year. He quoted Lise Sundrla of the SDRA commenting about the economic impacts of the flyover:

“There are social and cultural reasons that support the removal,” Sundrla said. “From an economic perspective, (property values) drop drastically from south of the flyover to the north.”

And Christian Sottile described how removal of flyover would position the city relative to other communities grappling with the negative effects of highways on urban areas.

“The flyover would be another model project,” Sottile said. “In this point in history (its removal) would place Savannah in vanguard of cities reclaiming their urban centers from world of high-speed travel.”

All sessions are open to the public. For more information, call Ellen Harris, I-16 Study Project Manager, 651-1482; or Lise Sundrla, (SDRA)  at 651-6973.