Friday, April 30, 2010

Mt. Pleasant Mayor Calls for "Picnic Bicycle Rides"

May is Bike Month in Mount Pleasant

Mayor Swails kicks off “Bike Month” with Pleasant Picnic Rides

By Martine Wolfe-Miller

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC – Mayor Swails and a group of town employees will kickoff Bike Month on May 7 with a proclamation and a weekly series of bike rides called the Pleasant Picnic Bike Rides. Every Friday during the month of May, town employees and any interested citizens will bike from Town Hall on Houston Northcutt Boulevard to one of many beautiful parks nearby.

The rides will be at a leisurely pace and along the safest routes possible for all riders to enjoy. The group will depart shortly after noon after a few safety announcements. Helmets will be required to participate.

“The bicycle has been, for more than a century, an important part of our lives. It is a viable and environmentally sound form of transportation and an excellent form of fitness,” said Mayor Billy Swails. “I urge everyone to bike to work or try cycling for fun, fitness or transportation. I would also like to commend Planner Daniel Kelley for leading the Pleasant Picnic Bike Rides program and for educating our employees on the importance of bicycle safety.”

“I’m proud that I live and work in a place where I can bike to work almost daily and I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead activities and projects like this, which allow me to help encourage and build the confidence of others. I encourage anyone who can’t start with us at Town Hall to meet us at the park for a picnic on the following days,” said Kelley.

Pleasant Picnic Schedule
Leave from Town Hall at 12:05 and arrive at 12:20
• May 7 at Waterfront Park
• May 14 at Alhambra Hall
• May 21 at I’On Green
• May 28 at Cooper Estates Landing

In addition to hosting the Pleasant Picnic Bike Rides, the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market is hosting a Bike Friendly booth with the participation of local bike stores. Each participating shop is providing free ABC tune-ups (air pressure, brakes, chain and cables) and will display a model bike fully-equipped with racks and baskets for carrying fresh produce.

“Residents are encouraged to bike to the market during Bike Month,” said Ashley McKenzie, Community Development and Tourism Officer.” The roads of the Old Village and surrounding neighborhoods lend themselves very well to this type of activity. So why don’t you pick up your bike and ride to the market on May 4, 11, 18 and 25? Don’t forget your basket!”

The League of American Bicyclists is promoting Bike-to-Work Week 2010 from May 17-21 and Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 21. More information will be forthcoming.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Charleston Moves Board Backs Expedited Construction on Bridge Retrofit

The following letter was sent today (April 26) to Kurt Taylor, Charleston County Deputy Administrator:

Kurt Taylor, Deputy Administrator
Charleston County South Carolina

Members of the board of directors of Charleston Moves have carefully weighed the question of how half-cent sales tax money should be spent in the area just west of the Ashley River.  In a formal vote conducted via e-mail, members overwhelmingly support the proposition that the highest priority be accorded to the construction of a bike and pedestrian way over the Ashley River.

Weighed against any other alternatives, this project is far more important, a keystone link in the area’s transportation network and not merely an amenity. In fact, we think this project will serve that Ashley Bridge District neighborhood itself in more critical ways than the alternatives currently under discussion, and that (as a regional priority) it is on par with the bicycle/pedestrian project that made the Ravenel Bridge such a huge success.

The projects supported by the Ashley Bridge District are worthy. However, they should be accorded lower priority than this one at this time.

The Legare Bridge cantilevered retrofit project shouldn’t be thought of as beautification, or a mere “improvement.”  It is a critical link in our transportation network that will make it possible for people to choose healthier, more environmentally sustainable modes of transportation.

So we urge Charleston County and the City of Charleston to secure funding for this project through whatever means are available.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Charleston Moves Founder "Busted" on the Bridge!

Local cyclist (and Charleston Moves Founder) Don Sparks had cycled over the Cooper River Bridge to go into Mt Pleasant for lunch earlier today. On his way back he was dismayed to see the bike/ped lane was closed. The sign said the lane would be closed from 1-4pm today thru Saturday. 
Not discouraged, he rode under the bridge, came up around to the US17 South approach and happily cycled up. "The view on that side is spectacular", Sparks remarked, "athough it was a l little hairy given the number of fast, big trucks zooming by, and the very low rail." 
A little over half way up a Mt Pleasant police cruiser pulled him over, soon to be joined by two other patrol cars. The officer told Sparks that he was not allowed on the bridge, that is what the bike lane is for. 
Sparks politely replied that the lane is closed until 4pm, (it was 1.30 at the time), and how was he supposed tp cross? "You're not", the officer replied, "I'm taking you over in the car" (photo 1). As the officer packed up the bike, Sparks asked him if he knew why the bike lane was closed. The officer replied, "Because the Blue Angles are practicing." Oh. Its a long story, but photo 2 shows the view from the lock up seat, pretty sweet. The officer let Sparks go on the Charleston side of the bridge (photo 3) with a friendly warning. Lesson to us all: Don't go across bridges by bicycle when the Blue Angles are practicing! We're serious!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ben Sawyer Bridge Sidewalk Closed

Our reports are that the sidewalk on the Ben Sawyer Bridge is being closed from time to time because of work being done on the new span. This photo was taken on Saturday, May 10. As of today (Wed. May 14) the sidewalk is open.

We maintain that the raised sidewalk -- intended for use by bicyclists and pedestrians -- is very dangerous, especially for inexperienced bicycle riders. Imagine: a front wheel slipping down over the sidewalk lip! The rider and his/her bicycle would be down on the roadway in a flash!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Results In! 1,980 Sign Petition!


The results are in. In five days late last week, 1,980 people signed their names to petitions asking for bicycle lanes on portions of Maybank Highway. Charleston Moves calls upon the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the City of Charleston, and upon any government entities involved to heed the petition and to live up to public policy statements and to make it safe for bicyclists to use this major link on James Island.
Maybank Highway in Charleston (on James Island) is undergoing resurfacing. As of this writing, only a final surface layer of asphalt remains to be applied before most of it is striped for traffic control.
Approximately two weeks ago Charleston Moves asked SCDOT whether bicycle lanes would (or could) be striped upon completion of the re-surfacing. Though courteous and professional, SCDOT staff would go only so far as to re-jigger lane width to provide an additional foot in width on the outside automobile travel lanes – but no striped lanes for people on bicycles.
“These petitions are an undeniable barometer of peoples’ feelings, how much they seriously want bike lanes/bike facilities in Charleston,” said Tom Bradford, Acting Director. “It is time to embrace new thinking and designs that support multiple modes of transportation and interconnected neighborhoods and get away from letting 50s-era standards shape our future.”
The background for our request is clear:
  • In February 2003, the South Carolina Department of Transportation Commission 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.
  • Maybank Highway is one of the few north-south cycling routes in the Charleston area, and it is used daily by commuting and recreational cyclists. But, without bike lanes, it is a dangerous bottleneck for cyclists, as car traffic is heavy and lanes are narrow.
  • Roads like Maybank are a primary reason why South Carolina is the second most dangerous state for cyclists in the country.
  • The City of Charleston has passed a Complete Streets Resolution and has sought "Bicycle Friendly Community Status" from the League of American Bicyclists.
  • South Carolina counties and municipalities are required "to make bicycling and pedestrian improvements an integral part of their transportation planning and programming where State or Federal Highway funding is utilized."
  • The US Department of Transportation’s new policy, signed into effect March 11 of this year, gives equal consideration to cars, bikes and pedestrians. The USDOT policy states, "Transportation agencies should give the same priority to walking and bicycling as is given to other transportation modes. Walking and bicycling should not be an afterthought in roadway design."
  • The City of Charleston has passed a Complete Streets Resolution and has sought "Bicycle Friendly Community Status" from the League of American Bicyclists.

Maybank Highway in Charleston has evolved from earlier days when it was a higher-speed link between more far-flung population centers. It has become a much more vibrant, densely-populated corridor. Small shopping centers have become larger, busier. Neiborhoods are closer together. More growth in the corridor is anticipated. Meantime, we’re trying to walk more, bicycle more, for health and environmental reasons. It just makes neighborhoods work better.
Signers of the Maybank petition represent a broad cross section of people. In fact, the signers recognize that changes must be made to accommodate an exploding number of people who are seeking safe means to take short local trips other than by automobile. Forward-looking communities in this state and throughout the world are moving in this direction affirmatively.
Charleston Moves acknowledges that Maybank Highway varies in width and that it may not be possible to include lanes for bicyclists for the entire length of all sections being resurfaced. But we believe that including them wherever feasible will send the right message and will make it safer for use by bicyclists overall.
Charleston Moves suggestions the following as reasonable lane dimensions on the existing 62-ft width section: four 10.5-ft. travel lanes, a 12-ft. center turn lane, and two 4-ft. bike lanes. This equals 62-ft.* (see attached schematic) We suggest that if local municipalities support these measurements, SCDOT should adopt them. Our rationale for this is as follows:
· The portion of Maybank Highway through the municipal golf course will NEVER be widened and matching those lane widths makes good sense.
· The current roadway design/posted speed is 40mph, and maintaining slightly narrowed lane widths will serve as an effective traffic calming measure, benefitting the community and keeping this section from being a speedway to the Stono River bridge.
Charleston Moves is happy to discuss its position with SCDOT and other government entities.*

* These proposed lane dimensions are supported in the MUTCD (Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices)

Charleston Moves Issues Alternative Maybank Hwy Lane Configuration

Maybank Highway CAN be reconfigured to accommodate bicyclists!

Top image shows much of Maybank in Charleston as it HAS BEEN. SCDOT was planning to re-jigger lane widths to allow 14' outside lanes, which would make it somewhat safer for cars and bicyclists to coexist----but wouldn't consider bike lanes.

Next image down shows a reconfiguration we submitted, with the help of professional friends.
It allows for 4' ACTUAL BICYCLE LANES on each side. (The configuration is supported by the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices --- MUTCD.)

The bottom image shows a slightly different configuration for auto travel lanes, with the same width bicycle lanes. (again, supported in MUTCD)


Mayor Riley Backs Charleston Moves Call for Maybank Bike Lanes

The Mayor is behind this drive!

1,980 Signatures Back Bike Lanes on Maybank Hwy!

Hon. H. B. Limehouse, Jr.
Secretary, South Carolina Dept. of Transportation
P.O. Box 191
Columbia, SC 29202-0191

Dear Mr. Limehouse:                                                                                                    April 7, 2010

In five short days last week, our organization collected the signatures of 1,980 people asking that bicycle lanes be incorporated on newly-resurfaced portions of Maybank Highway on James Island, the City of Charleston. As you know, Mayor Riley has added his voice to this request.
Like many governmental units and agencies throughout our state and nation, your department publicly committed (February 2003) to “affirming that bicycling and walking accommodations should be a routine part of the Department’s planning, design, construction and operating activities, that they would be included in the everyday operations of its transportation system.”
For SCDOT, the resurfacing of Maybank Highway may be considered merely a routine maintenance operation with the simple goal of restoring the road.  But for the people of Charleston it is much more:  an opportunity to (in the words of the resolution adopted by SCDOT Commissioners) “affirm that bicycling and walking accommodations…be included in everyday operations.” For a host of reasons, there could be no better place to show that the Commissioners meant business when they adopted that resolution in 2003.
The nature of Maybank Highway has evolved in recent years. Many of the neighborhoods it connects have become far more densely populated, Smaller commercial clusters have become vibrant centers. Much more growth is projected. For all the almost self-evident reasons (need for physical activity, combating pollution, enabling short trips other than by auto, community vibrancy) we ask you to intervene. 
At this point in the resurfacing project, it is a simple matter to re-jigger lane widths, before striping is done. We have enclosed schematics showing two simple alternatives, both supported in the MUTCD (Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices).
Your intervention would be an affirmative illustration of a new, genuinely more progressive tone in the State of South Carolina.  Failure to do so would be to perpetuate the same tired approaches that have made the state one of the least bicycle and pedestrian-friendly states in the nation.


Tom Bradford, Acting Director

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