Reading an article written by Dustin Waters in The Charleston City Paper today, I thought I would Blog about bike lanes which seems to be a national debate. Waters’ article states that Charleston County Council is now requesting that the South Carolina DOT assess the viability of a proposed bike lane on the Legare T. Bridge connecting West Ashley to the Charleston peninsula. Charleston County City council had committed to creating a dedicated bike lane across the bridge for cyclists and pedestrians in 2014. Now, they want to have a 60 day study done to approve the bike lane. As with any “change”, there will be supporters and opposers. Not a surprise with the Legare Bridge proposed bike lanes. Opposers to the bike lane say it will cause more traffic due to taking away one traffic lane for the added bike lane. The study conducted this past Spring showed that this change would add 48 seconds to the average morning commute for drivers entering downtown during the two-hour peak morning period. That doesn’t sound like progress to me! Supporters believe that bikers have a right to be on the road as much as a driver. “Share The Road” is their mantra. Some cyclist supporters say they have to cross the bridge and it is not fun. I am assuming that these cyclists are not cycling to work? Maybe some do but perhaps they feel they deserve to go where they want, when they want to go on the same city and county roads in a safe manor as drivers do.
If you look up the purpose of a bike lane it states that they’re intended to make cycling safer and easier in order to reduce road traffic, and bike accidents. Well, perhaps Charleston City Council may want to refresh their knowledge of what the purpose of a bike lane should be. To “reduce road traffic” not make traffic worse.
Then there is the question, should you create a bike lane where the road is not wide enough to accommodate one? Bike lanes need to be placed in areas where road width is adequate enough to allow for a bike lane of 1.5m wide. If this condition is not adhered to, it could lead to serious safety concerns for all road users.
I think you will always have a debate over this issue. If you are an avid cyclist, you may argue that bike lanes attract more cyclists which in turn may lead to less drivers. If you are opposed to creating bike lanes at the expense of losing a lane on a major thoroughfare, you have a point too.
In a huge city like New York, cyclist injuries and fatalities were at an all time high. If you have been on these city streets and have seen cyclists weave in and out of already congested and aggressive driving situations, you may wonder if the cyclist has an Evil Kinevil-like mentality. The city did a great thing a few years back. The stretch of highway know as the Westside Highway had an all but broken up and dangerous walkway on the Hudson River side. They dedicated this entire stretch for cyclists and pedestrians now called the Manhattan Greenway. It is now safe, beautiful and may have cut down on the amount of cyclist injuries. It is also the most heaviest used bikeway in the United States. In my opinion, I think Charleston can think of a way to please both the supporters and opposers to the Legare T Bridge bike lane proposition. Put you planning caps on and lets come up with solution!