Savannah is known for its Victorian architecture, lush greenery, historic landmarks and its many squares. The beauty of the city, and the fact that SCAD buildings are scattered around the historic district often compel students to opt for biking or walking as their primary mode of transportation; that and the difficulty of finding a place to park your car. It’s no surprise that out of the 142,772 residents in Savannah 1,082 are bikers.
But biking around Savannah is no walk in Forsyth park. There are a few things you need to know before you begin cycling the streets.
Do: Get a bike that is fit for your size. Don’t buy a bike before trying it out. If the bike is too small or too large, riding it will be very uncomfortable if not next to impossible. According to John Bennett, the executive director of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign, “if you’re pedaling with your heels and your knees are hitting your elbows your bike is too small or your saddle is way too low.”
Don’t: Go without a lock. If you intend on keeping your bike, get a good lock and make sure you use it. U-locks are the best. Cable locks can be sniped easily so try to avoid them.
Do: Browse the Free & For Sale page, as well as the SCAD Online Yard Sale and the Buy Sell Trade Facebook page for cheaper, used bikes. Why pay hundreds of dollars for a bike when you could pay a lot less?
Don’t: Buy a bike based purely on looks. Looking like Taylor Swift in “Blank Space” is cool and all, but your beach cruiser won’t get you from your dorm to Arnold Hall fast enough. If you need to get somewhere quickly and with ease, opt for light road or mountain bikes. Pure Fix and Schwinn are two brands that make good quality, light-weight bikes.
Do: Get back and front lights for your bike. You are required to ride with your lights on after dark and can get fined by the police if you are caught without them.
Don’t: Forget to buy a helmet. Your mom will tell you to. Local authorities will tell you to.
Do: Check the air pressure in your tires as well as the brakes before every ride. For larger maintenance issues an annual tune-up is a good idea.
Don’t: Ride in the middle of the road unless the street is empty. Drivers don’t appreciate this and will most likely honk at you to get out of the way, hit you with a slew of profanity or — if you’re lucky — simply overtake you. A bike is a vehicle, so ride just like you would drive a car: on the right side of the road.
Do: Bike on Price, Lincoln, Habersham or Barnard Street as they have bike lanes.
Don’t: Bike on Drayton, Whitaker, Henry, Anderson or any other two lane, one way streets. These streets are designed to encourage drivers to speed, so avoid them at all costs. Also, avoid main streets like Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Bay Street.
Do: Go with the flow of traffic. In the state of Georgia, a bicycle is legally considered a vehicle and therefore must abide by the rules of the road. “Riding against the flow of traffic increases a bikers chances of being hit by 400 percent,” said Bennett.
Don’t: Ride on the sidewalks. It is illegal for adults and in most cases will put you at a greater risk of being hit by a car.
Do: Register your bike with the SCAD Department of Public Safety. Having your bike registered increases the chances of it being found if ever stolen.
Don’t: Ride your bike out to Tybee Beach. The design of the road and the bridges are not safe for people on bikes.
Do: Lock your bike on a bike rack. If there are no bike racks where you are, lock it to a signpost but make sure that it is firmly anchored in the ground. Avoid locking your bike onto parking meters or wooden porch rails.
For information on biking in Savannah, visit the Savannah Bicycle Campaign website.
Written by Asli Shebe.