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A Livable Streets Renaissance in Savannah?

1:00 PM EDT on September 8, 2009

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. Itmarked a growing awareness of the economic, environmental, social,public safety and public health benefits to be derived from encouragingSavannah’s residents and visitors to move around the city on foot or bybicycle. Throughout the week there was evidence that local support forlivable streets is gaining momentum, as residents and governmentofficials came together to learn about how to make Savannah’s streetsmore livable.

Many of the week's highlights, according to Bennett, involved Dan Burden, one of the country's leading authorities on the development 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 theirfeet and bikes, we need an environment that is safe and friendly. Othernews, this week, of a pedestrian injured and a cyclist killedunderscores how far we have to go. Progress toward more livable streetscan help reduce the frequency of these troubling and tragicoccurrences. Does this week represent the beginning of Savannah’s newera 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.

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