Kicking the car habit: Forums provide advice

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.

This entry was posted in 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 “Kicking the car habit: Forums provide advice

  1. Todd

    I would love to ride my bike to work. Sadly, I feel unsafe riding through much of town. There is only one bike lane north of Victory, and it technically runs one way north on Lincoln. While signs clearly indicate that this is a one-way lane that cannot be used for any other purpose, that rule is ignored and clearly unenforced. It is very typical for people to be riding south in this lane, which puts them on the curb side of the lane. This results in me (the legal rider) being forced out into traffic when passing the other rider. In addition, cars frequently stop in the lane; they are used by those in wheelchairs (should I feel terrible about writing this—clearly disabled access is another equally important issue in this town and is no doubt the reason the lane is used for this purpose); they are used by joggers and walkers; and on Sundays, an entire block of the lane is obstructed by parking in front of a local church. And this is the one ostensibly safe place to ride in midtown. On most other roads, I find drivers to come too close to me or turn right in front of me (and I obey all traffic laws while riding). So, first and foremost, I think Savannah needs a commitment to more bike lanes, on one hand, and a respect for the law by existing riders and other citizens. It certainly does not strengthen the case for for making the city more bike-friendly when such a large percentage of current riders have so little respect for the rules of the road.

  2. Mike

    I started riding my bike to work in Savannah about three years ago and now bicycle commute about 90% of the time. While I ride east and west through downtown I do occasionally ride North on the Lincoln Street bike lane. I don’t think bike lanes are safe unless they are physically separated from traffic. For the most part drivers do not understand the rules of right away when crossing a bike lane, I really don’t myself. The only vehicles that come consistently close enough to me to make me nervous are CAT buses. Right turns in front of me are a constant threat that I don’t think can be eliminated.
    One real problem is the amount of debris on the streets outside of residential neighborhoods. I’m plagued by flat tires even with Kevlar tires and ooze lined tubes. If the city could run a streetsweeper on main feeder roads into downtown once a month that would be a great help.
    I do see other riders breaking rules with impunity, but I don’t think its a real problem, certainly not like you see in big cities with a lot of bicycle messengers.

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