Monday, September 28, 2009

Take Part. Your voice in a comprehensive plan for Charleston

Public Meetings for Charleston Comp Plan
The City of Charleston's Department of Planning, Preservation and Sustainability is announcing an opening round of public meetings to discuss elements to be included in the City's update to its 2000 Century V City Plan. This first group of meetings will give the public an overview of the purpose of a comprehensive plan, what elements are included in a comprehensive plan, and how a comprehensive plan is used by the City and its planners on a daily basis. The meetings will follow a very interactive format that will allow for individuals to speak one-on-one with planner and to also add their views to the various elements required to be in a comprehensive plan.

MEETING SCHEDULE AND LOCATIONS:

Tuesday, September 29, 6:30 PM Daniel Island
(Providence Baptist Church - 294 Seven Farms Drive)

Wednesday, September 30, 6:30 PM James Island
(Lowcountry Senior Center - 865 Riverland Drive)

Thursday, October 1, 6:30 PM Peninsula
(Charleston County Library - 68 Calhoun Street)

Tuesday, October 6, 6:30 PM West Ashley
(West Ashley High School - 4060 West Wildcat Boulevard)

Thursday, October 8, 6:30 PM Johns Island
(Berkeley Electric Cooperative - 3351 Maybank Highway)


These meetings will be an excellent opportunity for the public to come out and learn about the planning process, speak to planners, and add their input into the vision for the City of Charleston over the next 10 years. The City will also have a citizens' survey available at these meetings for a broad range of input into the City's future vision. That survey will also be available in an on-line format through the month of October.

The City plans to prepare a draft of the updated comprehensive plan this winter, and have another round of meetings on that draft before it is presented to the Planning Commission and City Council next spring.

For more information on these meetings or the City's planning process, please contact Eugenia Singleton in the Planning and Neighborhoods Division at 973-7249.

SIGN UP! Traffic Skills 101 Course Saturday, Nov. 7 in Charleston

The Palmetto Cycling Coalition & Charleston Moves present... TRAFFIC SKILLS 101.

This course, taking place in Charleston, gives cyclists the confidence they need to ride safely and legally in traffic or on the trail. Recommended for adults and children above age 14, this fast- paced, nine-hour course prepares cyclists for a full understanding of vehicular cycling.

$20 for PCC/ CM members $25 for non-members

This is a League of American Bicyclists certified course taught by League Certified Instructors Peter Wilborn and Brad Jaynes

Nine-hour course includes:
--Bicycle safety checks
--Fixing a flat
--On-bike skills
--Crash avoidance techniques
--Includes a student manual


Course is pre-requisite to becoming a League Certified Instructor (LCI)

For more information or to sign-up, contact Rachael at the Palmetto Cycling Coalition: (803)445-1099 or rachael@pccsc.net

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ken Burger Vents about Helter-Skelter Cyclists

Click here to read Ken Burger's column on law-flouting bicyclists.

Do you agree? Should there be greater enforcement against bicycling traffic violators? Post a comment here for publication!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

PCC's Rachael Kefalos Reply the Post & Courier Columnist

Ken Burger’s September 22 article on bicycling addresses some important issues when it comes to cycling in South Carolina. He is correct in bringing the attention of law enforcement to this issue, and revealing that there is significant road design problems involved in the accommodation of bicycles, particularly in Charleston.



Burger begins his article correctly by distinguishing law-abiding cyclists from those who disobey traffic laws, but he is wrong when he continues his argument by stereotyping cyclists as either distracted students or spandex-clad road warriors.



Indeed, there are irresponsible cyclists who need to slow down and obey traffic laws, but Burger and other like-minded road travelers need to remember that these cyclists do not represent all users of bicycles. There are responsible folks out there riding safely and lawfully, and organizations throughout the state trying to promote these values. Every time you see a car run a red light, do you pass judgment upon all motor vehicle drivers as violators of the law? Probably not. Then why translate a similar judgment upon all cyclists.

It is going to take considerably more action to address this issue than simply announcing “the rules apply to you, dude” or the other profanities and insults that I often hear from motorists while on my bicycle. There needs to be a major shift in thinking and planning, towards an acceptance of bicycles as equal transport, granted the same rights and subject to the same rules as motor vehicles (as it is stated in S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-3420). Bicycling is quickly becoming a more popular mode of transportation and recreation, a status that is only going to grow in its appeal in years to come. We must, cyclists and motorists alike, embrace this change and work together to make our roads safer for all.



Rachael Kefalos

Executive Director

Palmetto Cycling Coalition

Mayoral Candidate Campaigns on Two Wheels





Joe Bustos’ Mount Pleasant, SC campaign “bus” is actually a bicycle, a battered, utilitarian tandem he has shared for eight years with his wife Kathy.
It makes a quaint picture. But for Bustos, it’s not a gimmick. He says he and his wife have been riding the tandem all over Mount Pleasant and beyond – to stores, to the beach, and even to downtown Charleston occasionally. “It just makes a lot of sense if you don’t have far to go,” he said.

CAMPAIGN EFFICIENCY:
The tandem bicycle is a key element in their campaign routine. On a daily basis, armed with a list of people to meet, they set out on their trusty tandem. Kathy, sitting in the “stoker” seat, directs Joe from address to address and fills him in on who he’s about to shake hands with.




Bustos, a member of the Town Council for eight years, is running on a platform of enhancing community amenities that contribute to quality of life. His web site puts it this way: “Traffic, recreation and essential town services need to be monitored constantly. Rather than only building roads to help relieve traffic, we must utilize planning to help manage growth and therefore traffic. But traffic does not only come from within Mount Pleasant. Traffic from the neighboring communities all cut through our town. This is a regional problem not solely Mount Pleasant's.”

Bustos takes credit for helping spearhead the drive to transform Coleman Boulevard, calming it from a 45 mph virtual “thruway” to the “Main Street” of Mount Pleasant. (Charleston Moves has worked with Mount Pleasant officials on their vision for Coleman, insisting that bicycle and pedestrian access be continuous. CM also has pressed officials to reduce the speed limit on Coleman to 25 mph to ensure that the vision of a ‘main street’ can be fulfilled.)
Bustos’ opponents are Town Councilmen Gary Santos and Billy Swails.

Click here to go to Joe Bustos' website.
Click here for Billy Swails website.
and here for Gary Santos' website.
Click here for the Post& Courier's account of the issues the candidates face.
EDITOR’S NOTE: As a tax-exempt advocacy group, CM refrains from endorsing any political candidate. But we thought Joe Bustos’ campaign transport system was worth noting.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mount Pleasant Student Pushes for Safe Bike Route to Wando HS

Jackson Hamilton, a student at Wando High school, is organizing a ride next month to show the need for a safe way to bicycle to school.
He can use YOUR support.
Click here to visit his Facebook page.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Palmetto Cycling Coalition's Suggested Letter about Harbor View Road

Anyone is free to use these points in any e-mail, letter or statement to James Island Town officials. It was written by the staff at the Palmetto Cycling Coalition.

I am writing today concerning the proposed improvement project along Harbor View Road on James Island. The Charleston County plan for this project includes bike and pedestrian facilities, and I would like to voice my support for Charleston County’s efforts to promote bicycling and walking along this corridor that is in great need of consideration regarding issues of traffic congestion and safety.
• The Harbor View Road project is a Charleston County ½ cent transportation tax project. The design and construction is handled by Charleston County RoadWise. The project was originally conceived to address residents’ and commuters’ legitimate concerns over safety and traffic flow on parts of Harbor View Road (especially during peak hours). The current issue is that SCDOT and the Town of James Island are trying to apply rural road standards to a suburban area. The RoadWise project brings the road up to 21st century standards appropriate to the context.
• Contrary to what some officials will tell you, there is a great deal of interest among James Island residents in improving bicycle and pedestrian facilities along Harbor View Road. At the public hearing on June 29, 2006 regarding this project, the single most important issue that citizens voiced was the need for improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities, with 24% of citizens listing this as a top priority for improvements on Harbor View Road.
• Bicycling and walking is great for health, good for communities, and a solution to many of our most pressing societal and environmental problems. Promoting these active forms of recreation and transportation boosts the economy, is less expensive than driving a car, and reduces road congestion and air pollution.
• In Charleston County, we don’t have to look very far to see the benefits of bicycle and pedestrian accommodations. The added costs of including these on roadways have enormous payoffs in the long-run for communities in terms of health and quality of life. The most prominent example is the heavily-used multi-use path on the Ravenel Bridge, but other very popular facilities include the West Ashley Greenway and the bike lane on Folly Road going toward Folly Beach.
• It is imperative that roadway designs enable motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians to travel safely. But all too often, our roadways are built with only motorists in mind, leaving pedestrians and bicyclists without safe or viable options to travel. This forces these potential walkers-and-bikers to travel even the shortest of trips by car—thus increasing traffic congestion and decreasing air quality.
• In support of these active forms of transportation and recreation, the South Carolina Department of Transportation, in February of 2003, approved a resolution affirming that bicycling and walking accommodations should be a routine part of the Department’s planning, design, construction and operating activities, and will be included in the everyday operations of its transportation system.
• Since the passage of this resolution, communities across the state have expressed their support for more bicycling and walking accommodations to be included at the local level. Cities and counties throughout South Carolina have passed versions of their own bicycle/pedestrian policies, and have implemented designs into their roadways to include bicycle lanes and paths, multi-use paths, as well as specific pedestrian-friendly designs. A few of these communities include: North Myrtle Beach, Richland County, Spartanburg, Greenville, and Anderson. Many of these communities have already seen a dramatic increase in biking and walking, and are quickly being seen as more desirable places to live, simply by providing places for their citizens to be active.
• Given these issues, I ask for your continued support of bicycle and pedestrian accommodations along Harbor View Rd, and encourage you to see to it that the design include bicycle and pedestrian considerations. Please do not abandon this extremely important project, which will help make James Island a more livable and active community to be a part of.
• Thank you in advance for your consideration. Sincerely yours,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

James Island Controversy: Suit Seeks to Stop Harbor View Road Improvements

If you've been on Harbor View Road in morning or evening rush, you'll probably agree that any semblance of rural-ness is gone, at least at those hours. A lot of people live on James Island, and there are a lot of cars on Harbor View.

Harbor View connects multiple neighborhoods. It connects schools. There's a well-used shopping center with a Piggly-Wiggly. There are taverns, gas stations, restaurants. It's a shortcut to The Connector (and downtown Charleston) for many, and it's a major route for cyclists going to or from Folly Beach. It's a busy road, for good reasons.

In short: Harbor View could use improvements. Pedestrians can be found walking in the existing bike lanes (which are in poor condition). Generally, cyclists using the lanes are of the more intrepid variety. And whenever a motorist is making a lefthand turn, cars back up.

So, going back several years, Charleston County Roadwise started working on a project to use half-cent sales tax money to makle improvements. Now, the Town of James Island's Mayor Mary Clark and the Town Council (on a 4-1 vote) have voted to go to court to stop the project. Their reasoning? Keep James Island rural. Other opponents of the improvements say they won't fix the traffic bottleneck because the bridge over James Island Creek and the causeways on eather side of it will remain two lanes wide.

THE CHARLESTON MOVES POSITION

Whether consciously or subconsciously, when we're in a neighborhood where people are out walking or riding their bikes -- kids included --- we feel we're in a good, healthy place. So, encouraging walking and bicycling is always a good thing. Most everyone would agree. And they'd like conditions to be safe enough so that kids could ride bikes to school or to walk. (of course, there's our hand-in-hand epidemics of inactivity, obesity and diabetes.)


James Island is a beautiful place, but it has become home to many, many people. While it is a noble thing to try to retain some "rural" character, the presence of a larger and larger population -- with all its transportation and living needs -- must be taken into account. As a part of a very natural growth process, James Island has grown well beyond its rural beginnings. Besides, we have to get over the old planning flaw that makes it imperative to jump in a car for every trip no matter how short it may be. As Charleston Moves founder Don Sparks says: "Why should it be necessary to drive a car four or five blocks to get a loaf of bread?" (add to this all the compelling arguments about health, about combating obesity, etc. etc.)


These values, increasingly, are being adopted popularly by folks everywhere, and by government entities. They're supported by the City of Charleston and by officials in Charleston County. The State legislature backs them.


So, we believe the contemplated improvements, while flawed in some respects, should go ahead. Among other things that we feel might be dealt with: We don't like center "suicide" lanes (though we also don't like to see traffic stopped for someone making a 'left"). We'd like to see thought given to the James island Creek bottleneck, and we'd LOVE to see the speed limit on Harbor View Road vastly reduced to help achieve the calm, comfortable aspects of a safe neighborhood road.



HAVE YOUR SAY

We're urging anyone who can do so (especially residents of James Island) to attend the meeting of the James island Town Council at 7pm THIS TUESDAY Sept. 15, held at town hall at 1238 Camp Road. Anyone wishing to speak on a subject relevant to town government has the floor for up to three minutes. Or e-mail Mayor Clark at maryclark@townofjamesislandsc.org.

(feel free to use material on the subject generated by the Palmetto Cycling Coalition in a separate post on this blog.)