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A Livable Streets Renaissance in Savannah?

The last time we checked in with the folks down at Sustainable Savannah, it was to get an update on the jaywalking ticket blitz
that the city was conducting — not exactly evidence of a progressive
attitude toward traffic safety. Today, we’ve got better news.

1594723787_18fc8534fa.jpgBiking in Savannah: the future is looking brighter. Photo by p medved via Flickr.

Over
the long weekend, Sustainable Savannah’s John Bennett shot us an e-mail
alerting us to a week filled with positive developments on the livable
streets front in that city:

Among those who want to make Savannah a more sustainable community,
this past week may be remembered as a particularly important one. It
marked a growing awareness of the economic, environmental, social,
public safety and public health benefits to be derived from encouraging
Savannah’s residents and visitors to move around the city on foot or by
bicycle. Throughout the week there was evidence that local support for
livable streets is gaining momentum, as residents and government
officials came together to learn about how to make Savannah’s streets
more livable.

Many of the week’s highlights, according to Bennett, involved Dan Burden,
one of the country’s leading authorities on the develpment of walkable
and bikable communities. Burden met with many different City of
Savannah staff, presented a program on traffic calming, and led a workshop for the city’s new Traffic Calming Committee.

Later in the week, Mayor Otis Johnson let a bike commuting convoy, and a new public service announcement on sharing the road with cyclists debuted.

These
are welcome developments in a city that has been grappling with
pedestrian and cyclist safety in the past several months. Bennett
sounds a note of cautious optimism:

Still, in order to get more citizens out of their cars and on their
feet and bikes, we need an environment that is safe and friendly. Other
news, this week, of a pedestrian injured and a cyclist killed

underscores how far we have to go. Progress toward more livable streets
can help reduce the frequency of these troubling and tragic
occurrences. Does this week represent the beginning of Savannah’s new
era of livable streets?

More from around the network: The National Journal Expert Blog on Transportation opens a discussion on the nation’s freight policy. Planning Pool reports on a new study that links walkability to higher home values. And Smart City Memphis posts on that city’s upcoming transportation and land use planning process.