Proposed ordinance will ban people on bikes from Forsyth Park, push them onto dangerous streets

forsyth park riders

Fun, healthy family activities like the one depicted in this photo, which is used by Visit Savannah to promote our city, could soon be illegal (at least for the adults in the photo).

A proposed city ordinance would expand the current “dismount” zone in Forsyth Park to prohibit anyone over 12 from riding a bike anywhere in the park.

The proposed ordinance revision is to eliminate all foot propelled vehicles (such as bicycles, unicycles, tricycles, quadricycles and skateboards) from being operated on all walkways, sidewalks and pedestrian thoroughfares in and around Forsyth Park. The only exception would be children less than 12 years of age when supervised by an adult, provided they yield to pedestrians.

The ordinance is being proposed without offering any convenient, safe alternative routes for people on bikes. As a result, many people will attempt to use Whitaker and Drayton streets, which are dangerous to bicyclists and pedestrians because of car and truck traffic, often traveling at speeds over 40 m.p.h.

More information and an opportunity to offer comments are available on the City of Savannah website. Please take a moment to let City of Savannah officials know what you think of this ordinance.

The Savannah Bicycle Campaign remains committed to working with city officials, neighborhood associations, businesses owners and other partners to find long term solutions that improve safety in the park and on nearby streets. Making Whitaker and Drayton streets safe for all users should be the primary and immediate goal.

Public comment will be accepted on the City’s website through Jan. 5, 2016.  A public meeting will be scheduled for mid-January to gather more feedback.

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4 Comments

  1. If the city in its wisdom wants to ban bicycles for adults from Forsyth Park then I’ll be fine with that PROVIDED safe and suitable bike lanes and connectors are constructed in the streets on either side of the park. Otherwise, it’s a dangerous idea.

  2. While I understand the want to ban cumbersome vehicles from an area meant to be dedicated to pedestrians, I do not think it would be wise to ban bikes, or other such vehicles, from the park without providing an alternative path which is equal in quality. The bikes provide an eco-friendly alternative to otherwise harmful to the environment transportation and the park itself is rejuvenating in mind and body which has many benefits in itself. To discourage biking through the park, I believe, is an unwise move for the city because it will discourage citizens from biking and from visiting the park.

  3. I have been hit three times by cars driving too fast through Savannah. I believe we need safe, well-maintained bicycle lanes throughout the city and especially on either side of Forsyth if they will not allow us safe access through the park. WE, the bicyclists are more prone to getting hurt by children or animals running in front of us then we are to inflict injury on anyone. We are paying attention when we ride, it is those around us, who do not pay attention to the fact that we are there. If the city provides those of us who’s only mode of transportation is a bicycle, to have access to safe, suitable bike lanes and connectors, I would gladly use them.

  4. Hello,

    As a resident of the city of Savannah, I find irresponsible for the city to even think about this ordinance without first implementing an alternate solution that would benefit both tourists and residents, who truly enjoy the park and getting around it by bike. Needless to say, the ordinance wants to operate on the exception not the rule. For the most part, park goers are happy with the current status-quo. I find it irresponsible for the following reasons:
    1.- The ordinance will leave bike riders with no choice but to ride on the dangerous streets surrounding the park. It is the city officials’ duty to guarantee the safety of tourists and residents.
    2.- It will negatively affect the small businesses surrounding the park, who have taken all the risk to invest in this area.
    3.- It will negatively impact tourism. By imposing limitations on how to enjoy Forsyth, tourists will feel discourage to ride bikes to get around, adding to the already huge traffic issue the city faces. These limitations will lead to unsatisfied tourists (especially those who love to do outdoor activities) going back home and spreading the word on how bike unfriendly Savannah is, resulting in a negative reputation for the city.
    4.- It will discourage people from getting around by bikes and perform healthy activities on their bikes. Not getting around and to the park in bikes will increase traffic in Forsyth Park and saturate even more the already limited parking spaces
    5.- It will discourage investment by small businesses on the park area, impacting negatively the economy.
    Possible solutions:
    1.- Mark a bike lane on the sidewalk and a pedestrian. Enforce the rule that motorcycles like scooters are not allowed.
    2.- Expand the sidewalk on the park to make wider which will allow more room for everyone to get around, and make a bike lane on that sidewalk.

    This is an excellent opportunity for the City of Savannah to show its residents and the country that better solutions can be made to handle issues.
    I’d like to point out that while the City of Savannah is way behind on making the city a bike-friendly place, despite all the population that owns a bike and all the benefits that a bike-friendly town would bring, the busiest city in the United States of America, NYC has accomplished building a 400 mile bike lane. Read article here: http://www.bicycling.com/culture/advocacy/this-woman-built-400-miles-of-bike-lanes-in-new-york-city?cid=soc_BICYCLING%20magazine%20-%20bicyclingmag_FBPAGE_Bicycling__
    Also, in Germany a bike-only Autobahn has opened. See article on this link: http://www.bicycling.com/culture/advocacy/germany-opens-bicycle-only-autobahn?cid=soc_BICYCLING%20magazine%20-%20bicyclingmag_FBPAGE_Bicycling__&cid=soc_BICYCLING%20magazine%20-%20bicyclingmag_FBPAGE_Bicycling__

    Let us learn from these great examples that when there is a will there is a way. Do not ban bikes on Forsyth until you have efficiently implemented a solution.

    Thank you.

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