Category Archives: Transportation

Walking, bicycles, public transit and other sustainable transportation

As plans are unveiled for an elevated expressway on Abercorn, DeRenne remains in limbo

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It’s been some time since Project DeRenne has made the news. The last mention I could find of the once-much-talked-about plan to alter Savannah’s DeRenne Avenue is a WSAV-TV story from July: Project DeRenne Among Those That Would Receive Funds from Transportation Sales Tax.

My thoughts returned to DeRenne Avenue recently, when news began to emerge about a plan for an elevated expressway on Abercorn Street. The Savannah Morning News’ Eric Curl explains the proposal includes, “An elevated expressway that would stand about 35 feet above Abercorn’s median and separate regional and local drivers.”

Project DeRenne, too, sought to balance the needs of regional drivers, local drivers and residents who live along the corridor. When DeRenne Avenue became a major route for commuters from western counties, the effects on the neighborhoods it bisects are manifested in both easily recognizable and more subtle ways.

On a sunday morning in January 2008, I tried to document the details of a landscape that most people try to ignore. Here’s what I wrote at that time:

“When a streetscape is designed to maximize the flow of motor vehicles the results are as predictable as they are ugly. Yet we may not comprehend how desolate the built environment becomes when it is designed exclusively to move cars. Traffic becomes a distraction, drawing our attention away from the ways that it degrades the spaces, public and private, at the edge of the roadway. But when we strip away the cars, we can see how much damage they have done. If we continue to put the needs of cars ahead of the needs of people, we’ll get more of the same and likely worse.”

Almost five years later, has anything changed on DeRenne Avenue?

Savannah Food Day Festival moves to Daffin Park Oct. 28

Savannah Food Day Logo

The Savannah Food Day Festival, held last year in Mother Matilda Beasley Park, has a new home in Daffin Park this Sunday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. The event features food, of course, along with a transplanted Forsyth Farmers Market (Don’t worry, the farmers market will keep its normal hours in Forsyth Park on Saturday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.). Children’s activities and musical performances are also on the agenda. The Savannah Bicycle Campaign will offer its popular Bike Valet service. A complete schedule and more information is available on the Savannah Food Day Festival website.

Yield to Pedestrians Sign

Story on pedestrian safety reliably attracts negative comments from newspaper readers

Today on his blog Savannah Morning News columnist Bill Dawers examines a story, Ordinance aims to hike driver fines in Chatham County,  published in his paper yesterday. In particular, Bill notes “the article is already spawning the same sort of pedestrian-bashing that begins anytime such ordinances are suggested.”

In fact, these types of comments show up reliably on any story having anything to do with pedestrians (or cyclists). The most offensive generally follow news of a person being killed by another person driving a car. The three most common themes are:

  1. People who get hit by cars generally deserve it.
  2. Increased jaywalking enforcement, instead of initiatives targeting drivers, will improve pedestrian safety.
  3. People should always use crosswalks and sidewalks, even when they do not exist.

It occurred to me that Bill and I have written a lot about pedestrian safety over the years. In reviewing my posts, I’m reminded that quite a few from the list below refer to his newspaper columns:

It can be discouraging to write about the same dangerous street designs, misguided law enforcement strategies, insufficient media coverage, and ignorant and mean spirited comments over and over. Still, there is reason to hope that our state can improve safety and usability for all users now that the Georgia Department of Transportation has adopted a Complete Streets policy.

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.

CORE MPO seeks citizen input on Total Mobility Plan

The Coastal Region Metropolitan Planning Organization is hosting a series of meetings to solicit citizen input on the Total Mobility Plan:

“The Total Mobility Plan is an in-depth planning effort which will emphasize sustainability, Complete Streets, Context Sensitive Design, non-motorized transportation and transit. The Plan will address the transportation network and specific facilities, but also the interaction between transportation and the community as a whole.  The thoroughfare planning component will address facilities for auto traffic, bicycles, pedestrians, and public transit vehicles, including intersections.  Workshop attendees will map context areas, creating a vision of the desired character in each community. The thoroughfare standards will then be shaped to achieve that vision.”

It’s encouraging to hear the phrase Complete Streets used in this context, as many of the area’s most important streets are woefully incomplete when it comes to safely accommodating pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders. The meetings will be held at the following times and locations from 5-6:30 p.m., and will use a “Drop in when you can!” format.

Tuesday, Jan. 10
Islands High School Career Counseling Center, 170 Whitemarsh Island Road

Tuesday, Jan. 17
Armstrong Atlantic State University – Armstrong Center, 13040 Abercorn St.

Thursday, Jan. 19
First Presbyterian Church, 520 Washington Ave.

For more information, contact Mark Wilkes at (912) 651-1451 or wilkesm [at] thempc.org