Lock your bike to the square

Yesterday, on my walk into work, I realized that Savannah was missing a huge opportunity for bicycle parking. Let me explain.

Savannah is world-famous for its historic squares – 22 of them by my count. Each square acts like a traffic circle, all drivers move clockwise around the square. Vehicles in the square have the right-of-way priority over vehicles entering the square in all directions. All of the squares I’ve seen have curb parking on the inside and outside of the vehicle lane surrounding the square.

People on foot walk through the squares which act like natural extensions of the sidewalk. This means that each square has eight marked crosswalks. Some of these crosswalks are aligned near merging traffic. This creates a conflict point as drivers on a straight road presume they have the priority and walkers have difficulty seeing oncoming traffic due to cars parked at the northeast and southwest corners of the square.

If the parking spots at these two corners (NE & SW) were converted to bicycle racks then it would improve the visibility of people attempting to walk across the road. Pedestrians can easily see over bicycles to observe oncoming traffic; likewise, drivers can see pedestrians behind the bicycle racks. The diagram below describes this proposal.

SAV bike parking idea

(Bicycle racks in these locations should be protected by bollards with reflective markings to improve the safety of people attempting to lock up bicycles.)

In addition, the space between the crosswalks on the north and south sides of the square should be reserved as a staging zone. Many squares already have this space set aside as to allow horses a space to drink water and rest. This space can also be used by vendors in commercial districts – for instance, a hot dog cart uses this space on the south edge of Johnson Square.Curb parking in this area leads to unnecessary conflict points between people in cars and people on foot.

Traffic volume and speed are much lower on the east and west roads bounding the square.  This substantially reduces the risk to pedestrians even though the same merging traffic pattern exists.