If you ever wanted to bicycle through downtown Savannah under the beautiful light of the full moon but were worried about safety, traffic, or both -- now's your chance.
The "Midnight Garden Ride," a fundraiser for the Savannah Bicycle Campaign, has organized this Saturday night's event to promote not only the organization, but the eminent ridability of Savannah's historic neighborhoods.
And yes, there will be a police escort for this friendly, noncompetitive occasion.
"This is a casual social ride," explains Drew Wade, chairman of the board of directors for the Savannah Bicycle Campaign. "The object is to get out and enjoy the night streets of Savannah, which probably people are more familiar with on foot. But you can see a lot more of it on a bike. At the Savannah Bicycle Campaign we all think that's something more people should experience."
The timing of the event was designed to take advantage of the easing of the hot summer weather, as well as the return to town of the SCAD student population.
It goes like this: Saturday night, Sept. 5, at about 8 p.m. at The Distillery at Liberty and MLK Jr. Boulevard. From there riders have an option of a six-mile route or a longer 12-mile route.
"The first six miles is the same for everyone," Wade explains. "That route hits a lot of the squares downtown, and our maps will have places of interest for people who are new to town so they can take their own self-guided tour."
At that point you can either stop your ride back at the Distillery, or continue for another six miles. "If you want to do the full 12-mile route, you head south from there into Ardsley Park and down Washington Avenue to Daffin Park," says Wade, with that portion also concluding back downtown at The Distillery.
To see the route maps and for any other info, go to www.midnightgardenride.com.
In determining the routes, "we looked at how we could maximize Savannah's visual and historical appeal while minimizing problems with traffic," Wade says. "We will have a police escort, so the streets will be for all intents and purposes closed. Police will certainly be allowing traffic to pass when it needs to. But we will have a full police escort to keep all our riders safe."
Wade says that part of bicycle safety involves knowing state law about riding at night.
"If you're out at dusk and afterward, you need white spotlights. For this ride we're also requiring a rear red light, which I think is much safer than a rear reflector, which is all that Georgia law requires," he says. "This is really a reminder that primarily it's an activity to encourage people to get on their bikes when they might not otherwise. Consistently our message is one of safety and education."
While preregistration for the ride closed this past Monday, Wade says walkups the night of the ride this Saturday are welcome.
"We know from other rides we've sponsored that typically there's a lot of last-minute walk-up," he says. "It's a little more expensive to do it that way and you're not guaranteed a T-shirt. But we will have some more shirts available."
Wade says for those who missed preregistering, the best chance to secure an event T-shirt is to go to the Bicycle Link on MLK this Friday night between 6-9 p.m. Folks from the Savannah Bicycle Campaign will be on hand giving out registration packets to those who have preregistered, but will also be signing up walkup riders then as well.
Otherwise, "probably the biggest crush of people will be at the Distillery between 5-7:30 p.m. the night of the ride," Wade surmises.
While children are welcome on the Midnight Garden Ride, only those ten and over will be allowed to ride on their own bikes. Those under ten will need to ride with a guardian in a children's seat.
After the ride, you can relax at the "Good and Evil Party" at the Distillery, with entertainment by popular local blues band Bottles & Cans.
Midnight Garden Ride
When: Sat. Sept. 5, 8 p.m. until
Where: Begins and ends at The Distillery, W. Liberty and MLK Jr. Boulevard.
Cost: $20 per rider