When it comes to biking and walking, Savannah is a tale of two cities

Thanks to Savannah Morning News reporter Eric Curl for his recent blog post Biking, walking website flunks Savannah.

From that post:

The average bike score given by the Walkscore.com was 48 out of 100, putting Savannah at 77 out of the 122 cities rated. The only other Georgia city on the list was Atlanta, which received a score of 42. […]

I usually have a pretty stress free trip when I go riding and was a little surprised with Savannah’s low ranking, but I live relatively close to the Historic District, where most of the biking infrastructure is located.

I missed the Walkscore rankings of bicycle friendliness when they were released a couple of weeks ago, but you can see the Bike Score rankings here. The top ten cities are Cambridge, Mass.; Davis, Calif.; Berkeley, Calif.; Boulder, Colo.; Santa Monica, Calif.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Fort Collins, Colo.; Iowa City, Iowa; Hoboken, N.J.; and Ann Arbor, Mich.

Walk Score’s methodology for its new Bike Score is based on four equally weighted components:
Bike lanes
Destinations and road connectivity
Bike commuting mode share

Savannah’s ranking put us at the upper range of cities with “minimal bike infrastructure” and just two points shy of the range with “some bike infrastructure.”

But my street at the northern end of Thomas Square has a Walk Score of 80 (very walkable) and an even higher Bike Score: 89. “Flat as a pancake, excellent lanes.” I guess that refers to the bike lanes on Price and Lincoln, but I rarely use the Price Street lane and the Lincoln Street one leaves much to be desired. But given the width of streets in the neighborhood and the general lack of traffic — and the beauty and ease of accessing downtown proper — I’d definitely agree that the neighborhood is both very bikeable and very walkable. I actually haven’t even used my van for anything for the last four days.

In previous uses of Walk Score, I’ve been fairly impressed with how the statisticians are able to quantify neighborhood and community assets, so I do think these are meaningful numbers.

Some of the detailed listings of nearby businesses are incorrect, but the gist is right.

As Eric notes in his blog post, there are various plans for improving biking and walkability, some of which city officials don’t want to share specifics about right now. Why not?

Eric also notes the bungled plans to add pedestrian and bicycle corridors along Skidaway Road. Mystifyingly, county officials began by focusing on a more southerly portion of that stretch, where neighborhood opposition was strongest and where the use of the paths would have likely been minimal. They should have put the first emphasis on the stretch of Skidaway from Victory Drive to Savannah State University — an area that would be perfect for a dramatic upgrade in bikeability and walkability.

1 comment for “When it comes to biking and walking, Savannah is a tale of two cities

  1. Rebecca Rolfes
    May 29, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    I’ve done that ride. I’ve even done part of it by myself which i don’t recommend. It’s OK but hardly scenic and pretty jaw rattling. Think railroad tracks, recycling center and many, many trucks. I don’t need a lake shore but access from here to there without getting on a four-lane road would be very welcome.

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