THIS weekend, break out your Halloween costumes three weeks ahead of schedule and bike around Savannah for a good cause.
Savannah Bicycle Campaign is set to host its annual Midnight Garden Ride, a ten-mile ride with over 500 participating cyclists.
The ride begins at 7 p.m. in Ellis Square, goes to Daffin Park, loops back around to the square, and concludes with the Good and Evil Party, where Thomas Wynn and the Believers will perform.
Unlike a casual bike ride around your block, though, the Midnight Garden Ride allows and encourages costumes.
"People don't just make costumes for themselves, they make them for their bikes as well," notes John Bennett, executive director of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign (and longtime Connect “News Cycle” columnist).
Both kids and adults are invited to join the ride, though the ride is at a casual yet constant pace for an hour, so young kids might need to ride on a tag-a-long or fixed seat. Each participant is required to wear a helmet and have a light on their bike.
"A police escort closes intersections on a rolling basis as the ride moves along," Bennett adds,
This Saturday marks the Midnight Garden Ride's seventh year in action.
"The ride was conceived by Drew Wade, one of the founders of the organization and past chairman," explains Bennett. "He wanted to organize a ride that celebrated the unique experience of riding through Savannah at night. The city looks different — it's cooler, it's just a totally different feeling."
The Midnight Garden Ride is the Savannah Bicycle Campaign's largest annual fundraiser and helps bring attention to the benefits of biking.
"Bicycles make Savannah better, so we are trying to make Savannah better for bikes," says Bennett. "When more people ride bikes, our city enjoys public safety, public health and economic benefits. These benefits accrue to everyone, whether they ride bikes or not."
Some benefits as outlined by Bennett include reducing automobile emissions, freeing up valuable downtown parking spaces, noticing Savannah scenes not usually visible from cars, and generally improving the quality of life for citizens.
Biking is important, but Savannah isn't quite as up to date on bike safety as it should be.
"There are more than 700 miles of streets in Savannah, but fewer than 30 [miles] have bike lanes," says Bennett.
The Savannah Bicycle Campaign advocates for proper bicycle infrastructure and hold campaigns to encourage people to start biking.
"We also know that for many people, bicycling is not a choice, it's a necessity," Bennett adds, "and we're working to make Savannah safer and more convenient for people who depend on their bicycles for transportation."
Last year, the Campaign launched New Standard Cycles, a program that serves those people whose main method of transportation is cycling. The organization partners with nonprofits to determine which people need a bike most.
By participating in the Midnight Garden ride, you can support these programs, since all registration fees go towards supporting Savannah Bicycle Campaign's programs like New Standard Cycles.