In many ways Savannah is ideally suited for bicycle transportation because of the flat terrain and mild climate (at least this time of year). While many regard bicycles as toys or sporting goods, there are a growing number of people who see bikes the same way they are described in our state traffic laws: as vehicles. In fact, for people who go car free, bicycles become their cars.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of bicycles sold in this country are not suitable replacements for automobiles. Imagine strolling into a local car dealership and finding cars without headlights or that had no capacity for carrying cargo. That’s the scenario at our nation’s bicycle shops. There are plenty of machines for riding on trails or tackling a weekend century, but very few suitable for commuting to work or for bringing home a week’s worth of groceries from the store. But that may be changing. City bikes, commuting bikes and utility bikes are becoming more viable retail categories. Also, almost any bicycle can be modified with fenders, lights, racks and bags to make it more like a vehicle and less like a piece of exercise equipment.
Still, the average person, who doesn’t own a set of blue-handled tools or who has never carried more then a cellphone on a bike might have need a little help to get started. Fortunately, the Bike Forums message boards have three areas that may be helpful to people who are attracted to the idea of shedding their cars, or at least leaving them at home more often. The Commuting and Utility Cycling forums offer practical advice, while the Living Car Free forum is a little more ideologically charged.
Like all message boards, extreme opinions abound, but Bike Forum moderators are usually pretty vigilant. Lurking, or even joining the conversation, provides some good ideas about how to find a new bike or modify an existing ride to serve as a practical replacement for a car on many trips.