Monday, September 29, 2008

Charleston Moves at the Green Fair

Charleston Moves manned a table at the first annual Charleston Green Fair on Sunday, discussing our mission and our projects with numerous people. We booked pledges of membership from as many as eighty people.
The Green Fair seemed to be a tremendous hit. When the "doors" opened at noon, Marion Square was flooded with people.
Folks from the Holy City Bike Coop shared our spot and set up a repair stand adjacent to our table. Charleston Movers working the event included Tom Bradford, Tracy McKee, Cathy Nixon, Patricia Carson and Robert Priolieu.
The event was covered by Charleston's new online publication The Digitel. To see their video account, click here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

park(ing) day this Friday September 19

How much space do you think those metered parking spaces downtown take up? How much space in any city is ceded to cars and their needs, instead of people's needs? On September 19, you can catch a glimpse of what those parking spaces could become, if only we citizens would work together to change our transportation habits. Welcome to National Park(ing) Day! Begun, like so many strong movements, in San Francisco, National Park(ing) Day is a day to celebrate and reclaim our streets for people. Parking spaces are taken over by volunteers and turned into mini-parks, like those pictured above.

In Charleston, this reclamation is being spearheaded by the Trust for Public Land and DesignWorks, with additional sponsors including the I’On Group; they’ve claimed 4 parking spaces and are creating a Farmer’s Market, sponsored by the Stono Market; a Mini-Dog Park, sponsored by Alpha Dog Omega Cat and Carolina Fresh Farms; Music in the Park with local musicians, sponsored by Down to Earth and Carolina Fresh Farms; and Ping-Pong Park and a Green Car Park, sponsored by Import and Vintage Repairs.

If you need some more green space and park time in your life - and don’t we all? - make sure you stop by the corner of Church and Market Streets (across from the Anson Restaurant) on Sept. 19.

You can read more on the recently launched TPL SC blog or on the Charleston Park(ing) Day Facebook page.

Maybank Highway: What's Next

Charleston Moves worked with the Coastal Conservation League to oppose Charleston County Roadwise plan to widen Maybank Highway on John's Island. Both organizations believed that a plan put forth by the City of Charleston to disperse traffic in critical areas offered much better options for local trips while preserving the beauty of the island and speeding overall traffic flow. Charleston Moves believed the City's plan would make for calmer, more "friendly" streets, conducive to walking and bicycling. Click here to read the Coastal Conservation League's latest summation of where things stand and find out how you can contact decision-makers.

The city's plan will be reviewed by the Charleston City Council and local residents next Tuesday, the 23rd at 5PM at Rutledge Memorial Baptist Church at 2014 Bees Ferry Road. We're encouraging anyone with an interest in this issue to attend, and to speak.

The plan will be presented to a committee of the County Council at 4:15 on October 2. The meeting will be held at the Lonnie Hamilton, III Public Service Building, 4045 Bridge View Drive, North Charleston. It is not clear whether the public will be permitted to speak at this meeting.

Call for Volunteer(s)

The Charleston Moves web presence is improving. But we could use your help. Here are three specific needs you could pitch in on, if you have the time and the skills>
1. Google AdWords: We need someone who can tweak our settings to improve our hit numbers.
2. Data Entry: We've adopted a new system and need data entry help to move and combine older data.
2. Grants: Research on prospects for grants is needed.

The Shame of Cosgrove Avenue

This photo was taken a few days ago by Charleston Moves supporter Jim Augustine. In his words, it shows "a determined guy, but very unsafe. location is Cosgrove East of I-26,
Shows how poorly the area accommodates bikes, etc.
This chap has just come off the Ashley Bridge where he may have ridden a slolom."
For cyclists and pedestrians (perhaps especially those with very limited finances), the Cosgrove Avenue bridge is an in-your-face example of inequities in our local approach to transportation. The photo Jim shot is likely of a man who had no other easy, expedient means of getting where he wanted to go
The Cosgrove Avenue Bridge has come up in substantial debate, and in May, the Post and Courier urged that the state study ways to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians using it. Click here to see that editorial.

Monday, September 15, 2008

City of Charleston Acquires Land to Link Bike/Ped Paths

The City of Charleston has an ambitious plan to link numerous (now often unconnected) bike and pedestrian paths throughout the West Ashley area, and is to be commended for keeping its eye on the ball.

In today's Post and Courier, there's an account of another land acquisition which will make a key linkage in this network.

Here is the Post and Courier story:

Charleston has received the go-ahead to use greenbelt funds from Charleston County's half-cent sales tax to buy a West Ashley property that could help the city expand its network of bicycle trails.

The property also is home to a Confederate earthworks listed on the National Historic Register.

The 2.9 acres of woods and wetlands is at the end of a cul-de-sac in a townhome development but also abuts the marsh at Longbranch Creek. The land is owned by the Village Shaftesbury Homeowners Association.

Charleston will buy the property for $270,000 in a deal first announced this spring and approved this past week by Charleston City Council. Charleston County Council also has approved the purchase.

Matt Compton, acting director of Charleston's Parks Department, said the property will allow the city to protect the historic site and plan to extend a walking and bicycle path.

"The primary purpose for that property is connectivity," he said. "There's a causeway that dates back to the Civil War, that leads to the Essex Farms development.

"There's another causeway that leads from Essex Farms to Lowe's (on Henry Tecklenburg Drive)," he said. "We want to use these to connect the end of East Estates Boulevard over to the Essex Farms development."

Two years ago, the Carolina Historical Site Preservation Foundation asked the homeowners association to donate the property to the foundation, which proposed maintaining the site and creating a self-guided tour of the earthworks.

The association wanted to sell the property, however, and the land has been on the market for five years. The combination of wetlands and historic earthworks limited the potential uses of the land.

The $270,000 price the city agreed to pay is the amount the property was appraised for in 2003, according to Compton.

The purchase is the city's fifth, and smallest, use of funding from the greenbelt program.

Compton said a small part of the property might be used for a playground or basketball half-court, but the focus will be on the trail.

"Since we're running a hiker-biker trail through there, we have an opportunity to do some interpretive work (for the historic earthworks)," he said.

Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Former Charleston Moves President on John's Island Traffic Plans


Street plan is clear and simple choice for Johns Island
By Tim Keane
Monday, September 8, 2008

Charleston County is facing an important, long-term decision about what kind of streets to build on Johns Island. It's a simple choice — invest our dollars either in a failed system of street widening that is good for only one thing or in a network of streets accommodating all forms of transportation.

Recently the city has proposed a plan to build a network of two-lane streets on Johns Island and thereby give motorists and everyone else more options to get around on the island. The city has specifically proposed improving the Maybank Highway and River Road intersection, not by adding more turn lanes, but by building new parallel streets and intersections to disperse traffic.

Like all transportation investment, this alternate plan is about both moving people around and creating places. The old way of widening roads is intended to move vehicles faster. It is also about creating places where everyone must drive to do anything. Problem is, this combination leads to congestion, frustration and very little choice.

The city's proposed street network is intended to move vehicles, but pedestrians and bicyclists as well. It does this, in part, by facilitating development of places that are safe and comfortable for both pedestrians and bicyclists. The days of endless, cheap gas are over. The city's alternative approach has always been prudent, now it is absolutely necessary.

Most of us know this. Those that continue to advocate the old system of street widening typically laugh off the street network alternative as childish; adults just need wider roads to drive their cars faster and farther, after all.

Trouble is, this argument has been proven erroneous time and again in every city in America. Towns, cities, and counties everywhere have finally realized that widening roads to improve traffic flow just leads to more traffic and traffic-dependent places such as fast food restaurants, gas stations, and so forth.

If you want more of what we have on Savannah Highway or Columbia has on Two Notch Road or Charlotte on Independence Boulevard then just widen streets in growing areas and forget about everything else.

The city's proposed street network plan can be implemented in phases. First priority is improving the flow of traffic in and around the intersection of Maybank Highway and River Road. The new network around this intersection could be built right away and other parts of the street network on Johns Island can be built later. This proposal is not one mega project; rather it is a series of improvements for the community to make over time.

On Johns Island Charleston County should make the right critical investment in streets at a time when it is obvious that we all need to think about mobility in a different way.

This is possible because Charleston County and the City of Charleston are making great efforts to manage growth and create a transportation system for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and motorists. We should embrace this alternative rather than continuing to invest in yesterday's transportation infrastructure.

Tim Keane is principal at Keane & Co., a planning and urban design consulting practice in Charleston.

Friday, September 12, 2008