Plan for safer crossing for cyclists on Highway 61 hits snag

Updated: Jul. 30, 2019 at 10:05 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A plan to make a West Ashley intersection safer for bicyclists and pedestrians has taken a step backwards.

The West Ashley Bikeway currently bisects Saint Andrews Boulevard in Charleston. There’s a gap where the bikeway ends and then starts back up on the other side of the road.

Katie Zimmerman is the executive director for Charleston Moves, a group that advocates for safe and connected biking, walking, and public transit infrastructure throughout Charleston County.

Zimmerman says the gap makes it a lot more dangerous for bicyclists and pedestrians that are trying to cross the street.

To get across the highway, bikers have to leave the path, go down the street, cross, then come back up to get back on the path. People also just try and just cross the busy 4-lane road right where the bikeway ends.

“This gap seems so small but it’s a huge deal as far as safety, as far as connectivity for people using non-motorized vehicles,” Zimmerman said.

Through an effort with the City of Charleston, the West Revitalization Commission, and Charleston County, a master plan was created to improve the West Ashley Greenway and the Bikeway.

The project has been part of the effort.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation as well as other groups have gotten involved with the design process. During Tuesday’s Charleston County Council meeting, elected officials and advocacy groups came out to ask the council to fund the project.

The current design would include a better crossing on the highway and a median in the middle. It would also use a flashing-light beacon that pedestrians and bicyclists could press when they wanted to cross the street.

Most council members agreed that the current design wasn’t safe enough to follow through with.

“The city needs to reconvene with SCDOT and come back with a plan that we could support because this one is dangerous, and I will not support the one that’s on the floor," Charleston County Council member Teddie E. Pryor Sr said.

The City of Charleston will now have six months to come up with a new plan along with the department of transportation, and then present it again to county council.

City officials will also hold public hearings to get feedback on the potential designs.

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