Category Archives: Transportation

Walking, bicycles, public transit and other sustainable transportation

Telluride film festival screening scheduled for Jan. 21 in Savannah

Savannah is a long way, both horizontally and vertically, from the peaks of Telluride, but that won’t stop films from the Mountainfilm in Telluride festival from making a tour stop at Trustees Theater on Saturday, Jan. 21. Titles, with a sustainability theme, to be screened in Savannah include:

  • With My Own Two Wheels: “The story of four people whose lives have been deeply changed by bikes.”
  • One Plastic Beach: A pair of artists “have collected plastic trash along a one-kilometer stretch of beach near their home in Northern California”. They make art from the debris, which they collect at a rate of up to “35 pounds per hour.”
  • Chasing Water: “Photojournalist Peter McBride sets out to document the flow of the Colorado River from source to sea.”

More information is available on the Festival tour website.

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.

Truth, thoroughness needed in reporting on tragic traffic crashes

Dec. 5 was a dangerous and deadly day on local streets. A construction worker was killed and others injured as they worked on a Skidaway Island roadway. On Waters Avenue, a business got an unwanted window display in the form of a Toyota SUV.

If you read nothing more about these incidents than what appeared in the Twitter feeds of local media organizations, you’d have to conclude that Savannah was being menaced by an autonomous automobile:

WTOC: 1 dead, 3 injured after car plows into workers
WJCL/WTGS: 1 dead, 3 injured after car strikes workers
WSAV: Car Strikes Construction Workers, Killing 1 and Injuring 3

Only the Savannah Morning News described this crash accurately (emphasis mine):

Driver hits construction workers in Landings subdivision, killing one

Unfortunately, that good work was undone in the lede (again, emphasis mine):

“A 27-year-old man was killed Monday when a car struck him and three co-workers at a road construction site in the Landings subdivision.”

Even the make of the car (Acura) merits a mention before the identity of the human inside it. To make matters worse, the story labels the man’s death as “a mishap.” These incidents are truly tragic. Those who survive, including drivers, will deal with physical and psychological consequences for the rest of their lives. When we assign blame to inanimate objects, we allow ourselves to avoid considering the truth about what happened.

Journalists are hardworking people who are under the constant pressure of looming deadlines. Why not cut them some slack? And really, it’s all just semantics, right?

The problem is that constant reinforcement of the idea that cars are killing people has a numbing effect on our attitudes about traffic deaths. Or as more eloquently explained here:

“This personification of vehicles that maim or kill people (e.g., ‘car hits man on bicycle’) is so common, we think nothing of it, any more than we think twice about describing completely preventable crashes as ‘accidents.'”

The aggregate effect is that we have become sadly tolerant of traffic deaths, according to Tom Vanderbilt:

“As the leading cause of death for people aged 1 to 34 years old in the U.S., traffic deaths represent nothing short of a public health crisis, not a collection of ‘accidents,’ and should be treated as such.”

Please understand I’m not suggesting the drivers involved in these crashes intended to kill or injure people or damage property. Perhaps they were suffering from acute medical problems or another issues completely beyond their control. We may never know as the public usually doesn’t learn the results of traffic investigations, unless major charges are filed. After the initial story, there’s usually not follow up coverage revealing factors that contributed to the crash. We are left a but shallow and often incorrect understanding of a tragic event. All we know is that a person was “killed by a car” in an “accident.”

 

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.

Explore Fort Pulaski by bike this Sunday with the Savannah Bicycle Campaign

Things look different when viewed from behind the handlebars and that’s especially true of our local landmarks and attractions. The Savannah Bicycle Campaign’s Jerry Jaycox Wheelie ride on Nov. 13 offers a new perspective on the Fort Pulaski National Landmark site and nearby trails:

“The ride, now in its fourth year, is named for founding SBC board member Jerry Jaycox who passed away riding his bicycle. The ride will again take riders of all abilities through the trails and dikes of Fort Pulaski and include a spin out to the McQueen’s Island Rail Trail which parallels the south channel of the Savannah River.”

The ride begins at 2 p.m. and is followed by a cookout. Best of all, entry to Fort Pulaski is free! More information is available on the Savannah Bicycle Campaign website.