Category Archives: Economics

On bicycles and employment

City of Savannah Mobility and Parking Director Sean Brandon has a guest post at the Creative Coast blog this morning, which makes important points about poverty, employment, planning and creative communities:

“I have found repeatedly that the person that takes their bicycle on an inhospitable street is trying to do the very thing that many complain those in poverty don’t do: get to and from their job.”

You can read the whole post here.

MLK Food Lion store to be closed less than a year after opening

Count me among those shocked to hear that the brand new Food Lion store on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which has been open for just over 10 months, is slated for closure. At the store’s groundbreaking on March 30, 2011, a store official told the Savannah Morning News,

“We are dedicated to being Savannah’s neighborhood grocery store.”

Apparently that level of dedication was not shared by Food Lion’s parent company, Delhaize America, which announced today it is closing 126 “underperforming stores.”
The store’s closing is a blow on multiple fronts, not least of which is the loss of jobs.

In July 2010 Savannah Morning News columnist Tom Barton wrote a column called “Crossing a ‘food desert,” in which he suggested:

“In terms of re-energizing this struggling corridor south of the I-16 flyover, this project isn’t just big. It’s humongous…There’s nothing like having a clean, well-stocked, competitively priced and convenient place to buy food and other necessities to make any area more desirable and contribute to healthier lifestyles.”

Here’s hoping a new tenant can be found quickly.

Savannah Bicycle Campaign seeks matched donations to fund ambitious new project

The Savanna Bicycle Campaign has been active since its founding in 2008, working with government officials to improve bicycle infrastructure, offering bicycle safety courses, and sponsoring events that encourage people to make bicycling part of their daily lives. Now the group is seeking to establish a physical space from which to operate programs that will benefit Savannahians in need. The group aims to:

“Put in place an SBC Bike Restoration and Education Center, to serve as a center of cycling activities in Savannah-Chatham, to provide a physical presence for SBC and to allow for collection and rehabilitation of discarded bicycles to be put into safe operating condition and distributed to members of the community who have limited means for transportation and often resort to dangerously ill-fitted, poorly maintained bicycles. Distribution of these bikes  will be a means to improve mobility for this at risk community and to allow us to deliver basic bike safety education and equipment.”

Tax deductible donations will be matched at 100 percent for the first $4,000 raised. For more information, visit the Savannah Bicycle Campaign website.

Nov. 14 mayoral candidate forum will focus on transportation and sustainability

Savannah mayoral candidates Edna Jackson and Jeff Felser will field questions about their positions on transportation and sustainability issues Monday, Nov. 14 at 6:30 p.m. Hosted by the Savannah Bicycle Campaign, US Green Building Council-Savannah Branch and League of Women Voters, the forum will be held at the Coastal Georgia Center, 305 Fahm St.  The forum will start at 6:30 p.m., following a brief reception, and will be moderated by Jim Morekis, editor-in-chief of Connect Savannah.

“As we choose our next mayor, it’s more important than ever to ensure that Savannah grows into the future and grows wisely,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, Chair of the US Green Building Council-Savannah Branch. “Through this forum, candidates can express their vision for how Savannah can be a leader by demonstrating responsible stewardship of our environment while incorporating innovative strategies as part of that solution.”

“We’ve seen a tremendous increase in the use of bicycles for transportation in the community. The City of Savannah government has been a positive influence in that growth, and we hope this forum allows candidates the chance to address how they will help continue this trend and also make transit and pedestrian options more viable,” said Drew Wade, Chairman of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign. “Several long-term transportation planning efforts are reaching the point where those decisions become a critical part of the community we live with for the next several decades; we need to make the right decisions.”

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Frank McIntosh at 912-272-1074 or frank@bicyclecampaign.org.

Newspaper readers fret over street closures for marathon, ignore countless daily closures due to car crashes

Folks who leave comments on the Savannah Morning News website can be relied upon to make all sorts of hyperbolic claims about all sorts of topics. An Oct. 31 story about street closures related to the first running of the Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon provided some the opportunity complain about  car-free streets. One even suggested an alternate theory for the recently discussed issue of why people move out of Savannah. It’s not fear of crime or worries about taxes or the search for better schools or the quest for peace and quiet that drives people away from Savannah. No, the tipping point is when roads will be closed for part of one day so people can run a marathon:

“Maybe it is time to move out of this city. Parts of my family has lived in and around Savannah for almost 300 years and I don’t want that to end, but, really maybe it is time.”

Another commenter advanced the popular but misguided notion that using city streets for anything other than the movement of private automobiles cheats the rightful owners of these thoroughfares:

“I pay taxes to use the roads and not to have a sporting event that I don’t see a dime from held in them.”

While the marathon street closures will surely disrupt traffic patterns, the truth of the matter is that streets are closed to traffic in the Savannah area every single day, multiple times per day. Here is just a sample of the scores of Savannah Morning News stories from October that include mention of roads closed by car crashes:

Traffic Alert: Wreck causes I-516 delay
TRAFFIC ALERT: Accidents that could delay your morning commute
Ga. 17 at Roebling Road opens after wreck
UPDATE: Victory Drive reopened after accident
An accident at the intersection of East Derenne Avenue and Abercorn Street is delaying traffic

All of these are individual events and even if dozens of local roads are closed in a single day, it is not the same thing as coordinated road closures to accommodate a major event. I get that. Still, in aggregate these crashes cause many, many more hours of traffic delay and are much more expensive. And, it must be noted, cost many lives.

Yet none of these stories about automobile crashes merited a single comment. Not one commenter lashed out at motorists for causing these accidents, called the drivers involved “morons” or  “idiots,” or accused them of being ignorant of traffic regulations. Not one commenter shared stories of their own encounters with motorists who think they “own the road” or “always have the right of way.”

Oh, but wait, there was one “road closed due to traffic crash” deemed worthy of such comments. It was, of course, a story about a collision between two bicyclists.