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AS A RULE, bicycle advocacy organizations like the Savannah Bicycle Campaign attract people who are passionate about bicycling. Jane Love, winner of this year's SBC Pedal Medal award, enjoys bicycling, but is also motivated by more practical concerns.
“Helping walking and bicycling to become true transportation options just seems like a logical thing to do for a variety of reasons,” she said. “Cars are great until everyone uses them for every trip. If we could walk and bicycle for more trips, a lot of problems would be mitigated or solved.”
Love is a transportation planner at the Coastal Region Metropolitan Planning Organization where she works on projects including Savannah’s annual bicycle and pedestrian census counts, the Non-motorized Transportation Plan and the Chatham County Bikeway Plan.
Love characterized her role as “behind the scenes,” and said she has endeavored to create a “supportive culture” for bicyclists and pedestrians by “institutionalizing the bicycle and pedestrian counts in the MPO’s annual work program, using newer methods to evaluate the suitability of the bicycle network, maintaining maps of existing and planned facilities, and periodically analyzing bicycle and pedestrian crashes,” all activities that, “bring these modes into mainstream transportation planning.”
Love and Jen Colestock, SBC’s volunteer of the year, will be honored at the third annual Pedal Medal Award Celebration, Thursday, May 15 at 5:30 p.m. at ThincSavannah, 35 Barnard St.
“Jane and Jen have been essential to our efforts to make Savannah safer, friendlier and more convenient for people who ride bicycles for transportation and recreation,” said SBC Chairman William McIntosh.
“The Pedal Medal Award Celebration is an opportunity to recognize contributions and encourage others to offer ideas, talents and energy to the cause of making Savannah better for bicycles and creating a healthier, more vibrant community for everyone.”
Colestock, a sculptor, woodworker and bicycle mechanic, leads monthly “Mechanic’s Night” workshops at Foxy Loxy Print Gallery and Café and other locations around Savannah. Organized by SBC’s SpokeModels group, the goal of the workshops is to teach basic bicycle repair and maintenance in a fun and welcoming environment.
She said she enjoys volunteering at Mechanic’s Night and other SBC events, and believes the organization plays an important role.
“I like being involved in the Savannah Bicycle Campaign because I see it as the heart of the cycling community of Savannah,” she said.
Colestock, who moved to Savannah from Athens, is enthusiastic about Savannah’s growing reputation as a bicycle friendly place to live and visit.
“Savannah has the potential to become a great bicycling city: Its layout makes it incredibly easy to navigate, it has wide streets, its flat, and it has a downtown area that is still cool and shady in the middle of summer.”
Still, she said, there’s much work to be done.
“To make cycling for transportation realistic we need to connect the different areas of Savannah. It’s very difficult to get anywhere from the south or east side of town, for example,” she said. “In a few words, ‘if you build it, they will come.’ It’s been proven time and again to be true with rail trails, paths and protected bike lanes in other cities. Cycling infrastructure attracts new residents to cities, not to mention tourists.”
Love said a coalition of citizens, elected and appointed government officials, and community organizations are making progress and improving conditions for people who bicycle and walk in Savannah.
“I think having a variety of local staff and officials who are interested in those modes, having active advocates like the Savannah Bicycle Campaign, and having interest from the media all add up to more impact than any one of those people or groups would have by themselves,” she said.
In a keynote address at the Pedal Medal Award Celebration, SCAD Architectural History Professor Robin Williams, Ph.D. will talk about the role of the League of American Wheelmen (now the League of American bicyclists) in lobbying for the first paved roads in America, the design of Savannah’s streets, and our city’s history of innovation in street design and construction.
The event features hors d’ oeuvres and a silent auction. Proceeds from ticket sales and the silent auction benefit a new SBC program launching this summer, which will recondition donated bicycles and make them available for people who need safe, dependable and affordable transportation to work, to school and to other important destinations.