July 20 - CHARLESTON
The City Council tonight takes up once again an ordinance to regulate bicycles (and "toy vehicles") on the City's Streets.
It is a clear attempt to simplify and clean up earlier (confusing) regulations about where people can ride bicycles on sidewalks. On this point, the draft ordinance is, in fact, quite a bit clearer.
It sets a very strict tone about bicycle-riding, especially on the Peninsula: It is virtually banned except in cases where the rider is under the age of 12, where the City has designated a multi-use path for both foot traffic and cyclists, and where the posted speed limit for motorized traffic is 35mph or higher.
The more controversial new section attempts to regulate bicycle parking. It comes against the backdrop of increasingly heated conversations about bicyclist scofflaws and a vastly greater number of bicycles on the streets.
We have excerpted the section of the ordinance dealing with bicycle parking:
The response to this provision has been fiery. Some have questioned how it is possible for the City of Charleston to even think about such an onerous regulation at the same time it is making a valiant effort to finally obtain League of American Cyclists "Bicycle-Friendly City" designation.
We have suggested that it is a ham-handed approach to a problem that is acute in limited sections of the City, especially on King Street where bicycle traffic is high, sidewalks are narrow, and adequate, convenient bicycle parking is scarce.
It is also clear to us that this ordinance, if approved, could be enforced on a selective basis, allowing police to concentrate on the problem where it is greatest: in the C of C neighborhoods and on King Street.
We'll suggest that a better alternative might be to spell out where bicycle parking is to be closely regulated and to post signs about it in those areas.
These bicycle parking regulations appear too broad. They could be used punitively and selectively and give rise to unwelcome consequences precisely when the City is trying to send the "Bicycle-Friendly" message.
City Council meets at 5pm on the second floor of City Hall on the northeast corner of Broad and Meeting Streets. A "Public Participation" period always comes fairly early on the agenda and interested parties are each given a limited amount of time to speak.