Charleston County Council discusses Ashley River Bike Lane project

Charleston County Council discusses Ashley River Bike Lane project
One lane of the northbound Ashley River Bridge was closed during the test phase. (Source: Live 5)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County Council members are still undecided whether they will fund the Ashley River bike lane project.

The $2 million project would close down one lane of the Legare Bridge, giving pedestrians and bikers a safer way to travel to and from downtown and West Ashley.

The Charleston County Finance Committee voted to send a letter to the South Carolina Department of Transportation saying it is not in favor of adding a bike lane to the bridge. It also voted to recommend a study on adding a bike lane to the James Island Connector.

Charleston County was presented a new study indicating adding a bike lane to the Legare Bridge would be too stressful for the draw-bridge. The study claims changing one lane from vehicular traffic to bikers and pedestrians would add about a 30 to 40-second delay on traffic near the Holiday Inn.

County Councilman Brantley Moody says that delay is nothing compared to what would happen to other areas.

"The impact down Highway 17, Highway 61, Johns Island, James Island is not in this report," Moody said. "We heard very clearly from residents that 30-45 minute delays were the norm during the bike lane test period. This project, if completed, would benefit very few at the expense of thousands.

Katie Zimmerman is the Executive Director of Charleston Moves, a bike advocacy group. She said this study is missing another key component.
"The biggest part where it's deficient is that the studies didn't include how many people will use the lane," Zimmerman said.
The Ashley River Bridge crossing has been debated for decades.
"There's definitely a game going on where County staff are working on death by delay," Zimmerman said.
In the last year alone, Zimmerman said three people were hit on bikes on the Legare Bridge. She said a bike lane is vital for the community.
"It's very clear to me that those are the people that have never gotten out of their cars on the bridge," Zimmerman said. "They have no concept of how dangerous it is, how close the cars are, how terrifying the entire scenario is."
"If you surveyed everyone on County Council, we all want better bike and pedestrian facilities. The answer, however, is not in closing a lane of traffic," Moody added.
Zimmerman said  Charleston Moves will not be deterred by any setbacks.
"We are going to figure this out, no matter what council does tonight we are going to figure out a way to get people over that bridge because it is vital that we achieve this project," Zimmerman said.

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