Sunday, June 13, 2010

Savannah's Ridin with Style

We made a weekend trip up to Savannah this weekend, to get away from things after my trip to New York. We went to Savannah a few years ago and remember that it was very walkable, but I looked at from a bike point of view on this trip. Needless to say I was very impressed.
Savannah is a prime example of where a culture of slow and controlled automobile driving provides a great place to walk and ride bikes. I say a culture of slow and controlled driving, because there were little or no prescribed elements that reinforced the driving habits. There were barely any speed limit signs, but you hardly saw anyone driving over 20. Most of its streets are one ways and don't have signalized intersections, but they are expected to yield and stop if pedestrians are crossing the road. There isn't a single bike lane in the whole town, but bikes are everywhere and treat the roads as if it were their own. It definitely is an example where design and common courtesy works.

The best thing for cyclists in Savannah is SCAD. SCAD provides the area with hundreds of young cyclists that use bikes for all of their typical trips around town. SCAD provides bike racks at all of their campus buildings and the city itself provides many bike racks on street and within the streetscape. The large amount of college cyclists, along with everyday commuters, creates the culture that makes cars constantly conscious of bikes being in their environment and makes them drive just a little bit more cautious. Cars have to be aware of people walking at every intersection, bikes riding all around them, horse drawn carriages being in front of them, and tour trolleys rolling around town. Slow and controlled is the only way that they can successfully drive through Savannah without conflicts.

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Transportation for America Coalition