Share the Road: Bike Charleston
Bicycling Magazine named Charleston, the “Worst City for Biking” in 2016. With its flat terrain, abundance of natural beauty and a favorable climate Charleston an ideal city to explore by bike and the magazine’s designation is well-deserved. The lack of safe infrastructure have resulted in both injury and death to cyclists. Whether you bike for recreation, exercise or transportation, you have the right to reasonable expectation of safety which currently does not exist.
The City of Charleston provides for Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning via the City of Charleston Century V Plan and Recommendations that call for a transportation network includes access for pedestrians and bikes. And yet, progress seems to be slow or bogged down by politics and bureaucracy.
Last spring, a 60 day test was conducted to determine the impact and feasibility of a permanent bike lane on the Legare Bridge which connects West Ashley and the Charleston Peninsula. Traffic congestion, astronomical cost projections and commuter complaints helped to kill the idea. In May, The Post and Courier, published West Ashley Bridge Bike Lane Fails the Test which effectively summarized the issues.
In September 2016, the Charleston County Council called for further study but the same issues and jockeying between the city and county likely derailed any hope of moving forward.
Charleston Moves, a local nonprofit organization advocates for “creating a safe, connected and livable environment” for pedestrians and cyclists through “advocacy, safety and community.” The organization has been successful at raising awareness, but has been stymied by the lack of government action. Its agenda would benefit both citizens and visitors.
- Bike Lane, Ashley River Crossing
- People Peddle Charleston (collaborating with City on improved infrastructure)
- People First Streets and Intersections (speed limits, signs and safety measures)
- Battery2Beach (world class 36 mile route connecting area beaches with the Charleston Peninsula, West Ashley, James Island and Mount Pleasant)
In short, there are relatively few places for cyclists to ride safely: the Ravenel Bridge, County Parks and West Ashley Greenway provide safe passage but also difficult entry and exit and aside from the bridge do not go anywhere.
In a Post and Courier commentary, this month, Steve Bailey effectively argued, “We don’t need just a bike lane across the Legare Bridge, but a bike lane across the James Island Connector, too. Call it the Dr. Mitchell Hollon bike lane. We need bike lanes all over the city and the tri-county area. If we are going to improve the West Ashley Greenway, it should go somewhere — to Folly Beach to the south and across the Ashley, through the city, over the Ravenel Bridge to Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms to the east. Imagine!
Kia Country fully supports efforts to develop safe infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists throughout Charleston. It will undoubtedly improve safety for motorists as well. Sharing the road makes sense for our community, can help alleviate transportation gridlock, improve safety and more.
It’s time to stop talking and get this done before more people are injured or killed.