Bike, car and bus to square off in June 18 commuting challenge

dump_pump_2009It’s not often that an official communication from the City of Savannah begins by asking readers to predict the outcome of a race. Still, that’s the lede from a June 12 press release:

A bicyclist, a bus rider, and the driver of a car each leave midtown Savannah at the same time headed for City Hall. Who gets there first?

The event, scheduled to coincide with the American Public Transit Association‘s National Dump the Pump day is meant to underscore the transportation options available to Savannahians. The event is sponsored by the City of Savannah, the Savannah Bicycle Campaign, the Savannah Development and Renewal Authority, Coastal Commuters, Chatham Area Transit, and the Pedestrian Advocates of the Coastal Empire. Here’s how it will work:

The contestants will leave the Twelve Oaks Shopping Center on Abercorn Street at roughly 8:30 a.m., when the 14 Abercorn bus arrive at the stop located there. The contestants will follow all traffic laws and speed limits, and the bus will run a regular route, picking up and dropping off passengers as normal. The bus riding contestant must get off at a CAT bus stop, the bicyclist must rack his bike at a bike rack, and the driver must park his car in a parking garage. City leaders will award winner the contestant who first walks across the finish line, which will be located on the west side of City Hall, next to the Hyatt.

At first glance, it would appear that the car has the advantage, due to a higher top speed than the bicycle and the the fact that the driver won’t have to stop for passengers along the way. However, parking will be the great equalizer. And that’s an important point: Folks who dismiss bicycle and transit commuting as too time consuming often overlook minutes lost cruising for a parking space. Unfortunately, the solution they often suggest — more and cheaper parking — comes with a host of negative externalities, not the least of which is encouraging people to be even more automobile dependent and further increasing demand for parking. The good news is many cities are beginning to rethink parking policies.

For Savannah Residents, who have never “caught a CAT,” free fares on June 18 provide another reason to take a bus for a spin. More information is available here.

This entry was posted in Advocacy, Transportation on by .

About John Bennett

Transportation, land use, local farming and green building are all potential topics for Sustainable Savannah. The goal is to aggregate content about local events and projects, so there will be a central place to review everything that’s happening. The site is aimed at encouraging collaboration and information sharing between groups and individuals currently engaged in sustainability efforts. The site can also provide a snapshot of Savannah for green-minded people who are considering visiting or moving to the area.

2 thoughts on “Bike, car and bus to square off in June 18 commuting challenge

  1. Josh Brown

    This is a great idea and im interested to see the outcome. I wonder what factors went into deciding the starting point? I know from experience that biking takes the same or less time when going from any point north of Oglethorpe to a destination on Victory. But I am less sure that a bike will do as well starting from twelve oaks. That long stretch through Ardsley Park on Abercorn really lets the car pull ahead.

  2. Joyce Murlless

    I’m truly in favor of increasing transportation options for this city, county, and state. This is marvelous idea and attention getter – hopefully thought provoking as well.

    To fine-tune this, or suggest future races, I heartily concur with Josh Brown (6/17), who appears to suggest that other routes ought to be tested as well. What would happen if the starting point was even further southside than 12 Oaks? Or even if the race started X number of blocks (or walking route miles?) off a bus route?

    If we want to show the (real!) need for more/better bus routes/runs we would at least add the factor of waiting for the bus! (which I think only fair, if drivers are required to park at the destination end).

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