Saturday, July 31, 2010

In honor of Edwin Gardner

This morning in Charleston, I participated in the Edwin Gardner Memorial Ride. A bicycle ride to not only honor a fallen cyclist, but also a man who was an integral part of this city’s fabric, and loved by everyone with whom he came in contact.

I arrived with camera in tow, intending to capture each moment of this event, hoping to create a moving photo montage that would illuminate the spirit of the ride. I took photos of over 500 people gathered together on bicycles small and tall. Of children and grandparents and 20-somethings and everything in between. I photographed the endless stream of riders - gently, quietly, rolling down the Battery. I captured the group of paddlers floating in the water just off White Point Gardens, a lone rowboat in tow. As they raised their paddles in salute, their American flags fluttered in the breeze over the glittering Charleston Harbor and a flock of birds rose up into the blue true dream of a sky - their wings beating in perfect tempo to the thumping of our hearts. Hundreds of brightly colored flowers streamed past my lens in the murky water, thrown over the wall by the hands of loved ones with tear-soaked faces - sad and delighted and moved all at once in a unique collusion of emotions. Then I photographed the ghost bike, a pure white bicycle surrounded by flowers and graced by signatures, tied up to a post on the corner of Lockwood Blvd and Montagu, the site of Edwin's death.

And on the very last photo that I took of the special insignia designed by Edwin’s family in honor of him, I looked down at my camera and saw the message “No CF Card”.

I was crushed.

And then I sat with it a moment.

And I realized that the lesson is this.

Be present in the NOW.

Put down your camera, computer, phone, or remote control. Reach out to the ones you love. Acknowledge the extraordinary beauty that beckons to you in every moment. Get connected with your environment and the people around you. Live your life with passion and power. And in doing all those things, you can be true to Edwin’s legacy.

And you can honor yourself.

And so I leave you with this...a poem by e.e. cummings.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)


----Kristin Walker

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

James Island Mayoral Candidates Answer Charleston Moves Questions


Charleston Moves asked the candidates for Mayor of James Island how they feel about  bicycle and pedestrian issues faced by that community.  Each candidate was e-mailed the same list of questions  which are listed below in the first response received, from Warren SloanWe are listing their responses, verbatim, in the order in which they were e-mailed to us.



All five candidates, Mayor Mary Clark, Jonathan Brown, Brett "Skibo" Johnson, Warren Sloane and Bill Woolsey were sent the e-mailed questions.  As of Tuesday, July 27, only Warren Sloane, Jonathan Brown and Mayor Clark had replied, in that order.  If we receive answers from Messrs Johnson and Woolsey we will publish them as quickly as possible.

The election is set for August 3.

As a registered nonprofit organization, Charleston Moves cannot take a political position or endorse any candidate for office.  We are publishing the candidates' answers in an effort to help members of the public who share our interests to make informed decisions.



WARREN SLOANE
Thanks again for the opportunity to answer your questions and to interact with your group.  Please pass on my well wishes to your friend and I hope he recovers fully from the accident.
1. Controversy persists over plans to spend approximately $16 million on improvements to Harbor View Road.  One of the principal objections to the plan is that it fails to deal with the bottleneck at the James Island Creek.
    a.  What is your position on the proposed improvement.  Please be sure to deal with issues relating to pedestrians and cyclists
As a life long resident that has had to deal with traffic on Harborview, I can understand the concerns with the traffic. I have reviewed the project and personally do not think that the project will accomplish the goals with addressing the bridge.  There are absolutely no funds for the bridge or for the area between the bridge and the 4 lane portion of Harborview heading towards the connector.  There are many people that see this project as a chance for Harborview Rd to have some beautification and multi use paths.  I support multi-use paths but also realize that the Town does not have any money for installing them on their own.  I also worry about having multi-use paths that end at the bridge making the bridge even more hazardous to cyclists due to more and more people taking advantage of the new paths.  I would support seeking some out-of-the-box alternatives such as retrofitting the bridge with multi use paths.  I think that this type of project could attract some grant monies to the town to help pay for it.  The main issue is that with the project the Town has taken a "HELL NO" approach that leaves little room for addressing our concerns and making sure we get the most for the tax payer investment.
b.  In light of the fact that traffic counts on Harbor View have declined in recent counts, would you support the use of the same earmarked funds for certain improvements on Folly Road on James Island instead?
I am not sure this is possible as most of the money comes from Federal sources that if not sued for this project may end up somewhere else in the State or in another State.  I think this is a major motivating factor for the County to push so hard for this project.  I also believe that this area is very important for the Town and if the money could be uses for something other than widening, then we could find uses along this and along Ft. Johnson Rd.
2. What priority would you accord funding for bicycle lanes, sidewalks and other alternative forms of transportation in your budget?
James Island has exhausted all of its reserves over the last two years and so we will not have many funds to pay for any capital projects in the near future.  We will explore grant monies and alternative solutions to see if we can move projects forward while we try and recover from the misappropriate spending that has taken place over the last few years.  One quick fix would be to do some maintenance to paths we do have along Harborview Rd.  As much as I would like to commit to spending more on these projects, I can not given the status of the current budget.  Once money becomes available it will be within the top 3 issues to be addressed.

3. What is your opinion as to your responsibility to cooperate amicably with other officials in the region on these matters?
Our ability to work with other governments is key.  We have currently alienated every surrounding government including the JIPSD.  One of my first priorities is to reach out to all of the other governments to see where we can cooperate.  I talked with members of all of the surrounding governments prior to deciding to run and all seemed willing to work with us to better James Island.  There are no decent excuses for not working to find solutions that will helpJames Island as a whole.
I hope that I have answered your questions completely.  With my focus on budget issues, it may seem I am not very interested in your group or its goals.  I do not feel like we have the choice as a town if we want to continue not charging a property tax to residents.  I do see the value and will work towards finding alternative solutions.  Unlike the current Town, even if I disagree with someone I feel it is vital to listen and learn prior to making any decision and I hope that you know if you have any further questions I would be happy to answer them.
Thanks,
Warren Sloane
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JONATHAN BROWN
(Answers in italics)

QUESTIONS:

1. Controversy persists over plans to spend approximately $16 million on improvements to Harbor View Road.  One of the principal objections to the plan is that it fails to deal with the bottleneck at the James Island Creek.
   a.  What is your position on the proposed improvement.  Please be sure to deal with issues relating to pedestrians and cyclists
The solution to the problems on Harbor View Road is *not* to implement the current RoadWise proposal *and* widen the James Island Creek Bridge. That solution will fundamentally change the character of the Harbor View Road corridor, bringing substantially more traffic and commercializing the residential properties along Harbor View Road. The solutions for cyclists, for pedestrians, and for automobile traffic are separate and must be addressed separately.  First, we must *immediately* complete the bicycle lanes from the south island to the James Island Connector (which lies on the north island); the danger cyclists subject themselves to on this mile-long stretch of Harbor View Road is unacceptable and needs to be a top priority.  Next, we must address pedestrian traffic down the entire length of Harbor View, giving precedence to the areas most likely to be walked; we should prioritize sidewalks that facilitate walking to the commercial area of Harbor View (between Quail Drive and Affirmation Blvd) and routes by which children might walk to school. Finally, we must start from scratch on the solution for automobile traffic, and optimize the process of entering and exiting the flow on Harbor View Road; doing so will obviate the need to widen JamesIsland Creek Bridge. 
   b.  In light of the fact that traffic counts on Harbor View have declined in recent counts, would you support the use of the same earmarked funds for certain improvements on Folly Road on JamesIsland instead?
If the money is fungible, and the plan for Folly Road is sound, I would support transferring the funds for improving automobile traffic to another project. The main priority on Harbor View is to avoid commercialization, so doing nothing is preferable to implementing the current RoadWise plan.



2. What priority would you accord funding for bicycle lanes, sidewalks and other alternative forms of transportation in your budget?

Funding for alternative forms of transportation is my #1 Development priority.  Unfortunately, Development is less urgent than Maintenance as we will inherit dirt roads in such terrible shape that the Postal Service has threatened to stop delivering there. 


3. What is your opinion as to your responsibility to cooperate amicably with other officials in the region on these matters?
My administration will cooperate amicably with the other Governments on the Island, proposing the creation of aJames Island Council of Governments, which will allow for an ongoing joint planning and development discussion. In addition, we will regularly attend the meetings of the Island’s other Governments, voice our opinions, and invite other governments to do the same.
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MARY CLARK


Answers to questions   
1. A. The Town of James Island objected to the Roadwise Plan for Harbor View Road, which is not a real improvement.  We are currently in litigation.  We submitted an alternate plan of a smaller footprint with seven foot pedestrian paths on either side off Harbor View Road, from Ft. Johnson Road to the Connector, with cantilever bridges hanging on either side of the Harbor View Bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians.  They would not negotiate our plan. 
   B. Only about $4 million was to be spent on their plan for Harbor View Road, the balance was Federal grant money which would not have been used on James Island, but elsewhere.  I believe that this is unfair, and this wasteful project should not be completed as currently planned. 
2. The first incorporation of the Town of James Island ('93-'96) built the four foot bike lanes on either side of the Harbor View Road and on Folly Road from Battery Island toward Folly Beach.  When that town was dissolved in 1996, they had the plan ready for grant proposals to do bike paths on Ft. Johnson Road from Folly Road to Ft. Johnson.  In the second incorporation ('02-'04), we tried to address this project and have bike paths to many of the side roads leading to the historical places of James Island.  We did not have much success.  In this third incorporation, we support bike paths, for which we are seeking grants.
3. The Town of James Island has not had much success in dealing with the officials of the City of Charleston and the County of Charleston as the City has challenged our very existence, and the County has passed an arbitrary rule which only applies to the Town of James Island, that a municipality with a population of over 5,000 must negotiate for services.  Perhaps at some future time, they will make a more sincere effort to cooperate with the Town of James Island for much needed transportation issues.
Mary Clark
Mayor

RIDE IN CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE & VISION OF EDWIN GARDNER



A Short Bicycle Ride Around Downtown Charleston

Saturday, July 31st @ 9 a.m.

Start/Finish Cannon Park (Calhoun Street between Ashley and Rutledge)

We invite folks of all ages, and not just those in cycling groups, to ride together to celebrate Edwin and his vision for Charleston.  Bring your kids.

The ride will stay below the Crosstown and will have a police escort.  Participants are invited to ride everyday bikes and wear everyday clothes.  This is not an exclusive event for “cyclists” but a chance for all to enjoy Charleston streets by bike, the way Edwin did everyday. 

We celebrate Gardner as a spectacularly complete person.   Edwin was a bicycle advocate like Thomas Jefferson was a farmer.  Daily bicycling was a part of the ideal life he championed. 

Bike helmets encouraged.

Breakfast and fellowship after the Ride at Cannon Park.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Our Friend is Gone

Our good friend Edwin Gardner has departed.

A very elite group of doctors at MUSC worked heroically to keep him alive, but eventually his injuries won out.

It is still incomprehensible.

Edwin,  headed home on his bicycle after rowing on the Ashley River, was in a collision with an SUV at the corner of Lockwood and Montagu. He sustained multiple injuries and underwent emergency surgeries that went on for most of the day on Wednesday.
 
Edwin and his entire family always ride their bicycles around the peninsula whenever possible both for their enjoyment but because they believe it's the best way to get around.

Riding a bicycle around the peninsula was just one illustration of how Edwin always conducted his life as he believed.

He was always active, always stepping up, always involved in the life of the community.  He himself had started the rowing program he enjoyed each Wednesday morning, working with a few others to build the boats and then managing the groups that came together to enjoy those Wednesday morning outings.   He helped build the tender boat for the Spirit of South Carolina.  He was always speaking up about school matters.

Edwin had been an influential member of the Peninsula Task Force, formed to survey the future of Charleston and make suggestions about how to be sure the City was headed in the best possible direction from standpoints of planning and regulation.  The transportation subcommittee on which he served presented its first report to the larger group even as he lay fighting for life in the intensive care unit.  The report, we all hope, will result in some enlightened changes in the City, changes that could be his lasting legacy.

Edwin Gardner had a charming way of cutting through the unnecessary flak, getting everyone talking.  Sometimes, he may have seemed "out there," but it was usually just a trick to help people find insights for themselves, to think deeper.

Edwin was said to be 64 years of age.  You wouldn't have known it.  If you encountered him riding his bicycle with his wife Whitney and their 11-year-old daughter Olive, you would have guessed he was much younger. Always sunny and positive, he'd greet you with a large, toothy smile and ask whether you had heard about one thing or another.  I never knew him to engage in small talk.

He was  a great father, a great citizen.  He'll be missed.  But the example he set will stay with us.

You can read the Post & Courier article about Edwin by clicking here.


To read the tributes of others, please click here.

Tom Bradford

Extend 526? Coastal Conservation League says "No"


Learn about proposed alternatives to solving I-526's traffic problems

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for I-526 will be released Wednesday, July 28th at 10 a.m. This statement has been years in the works and will show the alignment and the impacts that I-526 will likely take across Johns and James Island and West Ashley.

The Department of Transportation has lead this study, narrowing down the possible alignments from 38, to six and now just one. 
Charleston County plans to spend more than $420 million to extend I-526 through Johns Island to James Island. The extension of I-526 has been shown by regional studies not to solve many of our worst traffic problems, such as congestion on Savannah Highway and Folly Road. At the same time, it will increase sprawl, destroy wetlands, lower water quality, and potentially impact James Island County Park.
The Coastal Conservation League submitted an alternative known as the "New Way to Work." The League believes these network improvements in this alternative will help distribute local trips and daily traffic better than a major highway, which will instead funnel cars onto Calhoun Street, Folly Road, Maybank Highway, and Highway 17.
This highway expansion project is a 1970’s interstate design that does not fit with the current needs of our city and would direct sprawling development to Johns Island, James Island and West Ashley. 
The presentation of the preferred alternative will be at Lonnie Hamilton Public Services Building, 4045 Bridge View Drive in North Charleston at 10am on Wednesday, July 28th 2010.  
Please attend to learn more about this project. 
Charleston Moves supports the Coastal Conservation League's position. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bicycling Friend Under Doctors' Care

Edwin Gardner, who always puts his money where his mouth is, remains in very critical condition tonight in the Intensive Care Unit at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
He was on his way home by bicycle on Wednesday morning at 7:30 when he was struck by an SUV on Lockwood Boulevard as he turned onto Montagu street.  The prognosis is cloudy.

Friend and Cycling Advocate Edwin Gardner Critically Injured

We learned this morning of a terrible accident yesterday on Lockwood Boulevard in Charleston.  Our friend Edwin Gardner, headed home on his bicycle after rowing on the Ashley River, was struck by an SUV at the corner of Lockwood and Montagu.
He sustained multiple injuries and underwent emergency surgeries that went on for most of the day on Wednesday.  He reportedly remains unconscious but his condition has stabilized.
Edwin works as an advisor to state governments and serves on the Peninsula Task Force.
Edwin and his entire family always ride their bicycles around the peninsula whenever possible both for their enjoyment but because they believe it's the best way to get around.
We are praying for his full recovery.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More on Bike Parking

It's back to the drawing boards for the legal and legislative teams at Charleston's City Hall.  Everyone quickly "got it": that the punitive bicycle parking provisions in the new bicycle ordinance just didn't fit the "bicycle-friendly" vibe everyone's trying to project.
And it is pretty bicycle-friendly, overall.  Mayor Riley got approval of a large bond package that, among many other things, should provide funding for paving portions of the West Ashley Greenway and perhaps for the planned cantilevered bicycle-pedestrian addition to the T. Allen Legare Bridge over the Ashley. (This is a biggie because it will link the West Ashley Greenway to the peninsula.)
So, the parking stuff was yanked.  There was a sigh of relief and pledges all 'round that the City would work to provide sufficient convenient parking for bicycles before fining people using parking meters and trees.
Yours truly provided members of council with the following photo and article:



We suggested that a creative, positive approach to solving the bike parking problem would leave a much better taste in everyone's mouth, and suggested this might just be the kind of thing that could work in places.  Here's the post that went with the photo:

Here’s a genuinely good idea for bike parking, which is currently, and surprisingly, being trialled in London.
The Cyclehoop is a steel hoop which clamps onto lampposts, street signs and other urban poles and turns them into proper bike racks. The advantages to the host city are great: it’s a lot cheaper and quicker than the digging and re-concreting required for normal racks, and the Cyclehoop takes up almost no space in comparison.
And its good for cyclists, too. The ‘hoop is put purposely low on the post to discourage top-tube-only locking, which is apparently a major encouragement to thieves. It also allows more than one bike to lock to a single post much more easily and stops them being lifted over the top. The units are secured using shear-bolts, which are bolts which lose their wrench-shaped heads at a specific torque, leaving behind a smooth, conical head that cannot be turned.
But there is one more advantage to the Cyclehoop — it legitimizes locking bikes up to street furniture, something most cyclists do anyway. Here in Barcelona, the law somewhat fuzzily says that you can’t lock bikes to lampposts or trees. This is so widely ignored that the cops let it go, usually, but of course that doesn’t stop the occasional old lady ticking you off.
The CylceHoop is being trialled in the Islington and Southwark boroughs of London. Any Londoners who have seen or used these brightly colored froot-loops locks, let us know what you think of them.

In any case, hardly a negative word was heard, and a King Street merchant or two stepped up to say they'd work with the City to provide bike parking adjacent to their shops.  Stay tuned.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

LATE WORD

They had second thoughts.  Pulled the section about bicycle parking for more discussions.  The City Council session was pretty positive.  Stay tuned

Charleston City Council Face Controversial New Bike Provisions

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.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Teaching Special Needs Kids to Ride Bikes: Can You Help??

photo by Helen R. Hammond courtesy of Moultrie News 

Shown from left: Lucy Oxford, Cate Oxford, Elizabeth Carpenter, Jack Oxford, Harry Walker and Edwin Carpenter are shown outside of the Oxford's Snee Farm home. Cate Oxford and Elizabeth Carpenter (Shown on bikes) will be participating in the Lose the Training Wheels Bicycle Camp For Children with Special Needs at the end of this month.


VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!
This was sent to Charleston Moves by Christina Oxford:
 
I want to let you know about an opportunity that the Down Syndrome Association of the Lowcountry is bringing to the kids with disabilities in the tri-county area.  
For years my husband and I have struggled to teach Cate (our 8 year old with Down syndrome) how to ride a bike.  It is very frustrating for her and for us.  I have recently found out that only 10% of kids with Down syndrome and 20% of kids with autism ever learn how to ride a bike.  
Riding a bike is a life skill and not being able to ride a bike separates Cate from her friends and from her family.  Learning how to ride a bike would give Cate more independence and self confidence.  A friend and I recently learned about a group called Lose the Training Wheels.  They can achieve in 5 days what we have not been able to accomplish in 3 years- they will teach Cate how to ride a bike!  
With this group, we will teach 40 kids with all kinds of disabilities how to ride a bike but we need volunteers to assist the kids.  
We need volunteers to help us on from 8:30-9:45 or 3:15 until 4:30 throughout the week or almost anytime on Friday.  The sessions run 75 minutes are there are 5 sessions a day.  The group is coming into town July 26-30th and the Charleston Area Convention Center has graciously donated space for us to use.  
I know how important cycling must be to you and I would love for you to be able to bring your passion and enthusiasm to our kids.  I was hoping that I could include some of the other members of the Charleston Moves on the volunteer schedule to help the kids.  I know that this is coming up very soon but we had not anticipated still needing volunteers at this time and are anxious to fill our volunteer slots so that we can accommodate all of the kids who have signed up for the program.  I am attaching an information sheet and a volunteer sheet.  You can also read more about it this week in the Moultrie News http://www.moultrienews.com/news/-14HELENBIKEPICS-
and REGISTER TO HELP on our website http://www.dsalowcountry.org.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Parking Food for Thought..

In an urban core such as Charleston, there is a limited amount of space remaining for any kind of use.  At the same time, we still insist that anyone starting a business or building a building provide specific amounts of parking.  Where's the point of no return?  Isn't there a better way?  How can we use this looking "parking break point" to change our emphasis to making the city more vibrant?  At some point, we must start taking to mass transit, to our feet and to our bicycles.  Better sooner than later....

Friday, July 9, 2010

Charleston Planners See Huge Growth in Cyclists

This report comes from Phillip Overcash, a planner with the City of Charleston's Department of Planning, Preservation and Sustainability.  It supports something we all see: substantial growth in the use of bicycles for transportation and recreation.  Further notes follow Phillip's report.
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The bicycle population in downtown is exploding.  In an effort to demonstrate the increasing number of bicycle on City streets, the City of Charleston Department of Planning, Preservation Sustainability conducted bicycle counts at high-traffic intersections.  

Using data collected in 2006 and more recent counts collected during the past year, planners have been able to track bicycle usage at the intersection of King and Calhoun Streets and at the foot of the Ravenel Bridge bicycle/pedestrian path.

The results of the counts are astounding.  At the King/Calhoun intersection, more than 1,000 bikes were counted in September 2009.  This is a significant jump from the 465 bikes counted in September 2006.  This 116% increase tells us bicycles account for a larger and larger percentage of the traffic on King Street.  The newest bike count included the intersection of Saint Philip Street and Calhoun where data collectors in April, 2010 saw 1,361 pass through.

The heart of the Charleston downtown is not the only place bikes can be seen in large numbers.  The counts from 2006 to 2009 at the Ravenel Bridge saw an increase of 80% from 130 to 235.  The data at the Ravenel Bridge path also included pedestrians which also saw an increase.

The data collected for bicycles included sex, age, helmet use, sidewalk use and comments from count participants.  Future plans include a more comprehensive bike census in that would necessitate groups like Charleston Moves, Coastal Cyclists or Holy City Bike Coop to partner with the City for accurate counts.  For more information and to learn how you can participate in future bicycle counts, contact Philip Overcash with the City of Charleston Planning Department.  
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NOTE: Phillip is spearheading the city's efforts to be recognized by the League of American Bicyclists. Charleston Moves hopes to assist in conducting more comprehensive cyclist census studies in the future.  If you are interested in helping to organize these counts, you should contact him directly or send us an e-mail by clicking here.