City of Charleston Traffic & Transportation to hear public voices on road safety

The city of Charleston Traffic and Transportation Committee will meet on Wednesday giving the public an opportunity to address safety concerns on some of our ci
Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 5:38 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The city of Charleston Traffic and Transportation Committee will meet on Wednesday giving the public an opportunity to address safety concerns on some of our city’s busiest roads.

This includes Meeting, King, Calhoun, and St. Philip streets.

Officials encourage the public to prepare their thoughts and concerns because the meeting will include a one-hour public comment session.

The meeting starts at 3 p.m. a Charleston City Hall to discuss future plans for bikes, pedestrians, and vehicles.

Officials at the nonprofit organization Charleston Moves say recent data has shown that these streets rank as the second, third, fourth, and sixth most dangerous roads in the state for pedestrians and cyclists.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation has stepped in with recommendations to improve safety, which includes the proposal of a buffered bike lane on King Street, stretching from Calhoun to Broad Street.

However, the city administration is in favor of a 14-foot travel lane on King Street and instead providing a dedicated bicycle infrastructure on St. Philips Street.

Both proposals come with the addition of 4 on-street parking spots and 4 loading zones.

Charleston Moves executive director Katie Zimmerman argues that the city’s preferred proposal could jeopardize the well-being of pedestrians and cyclists using the King Street corridor.

“The bottom line is when you widen lanes, you are inherently encouraging motorists to speed whether purposefully or not,” Zimmerman said. “And the last thing we need on King Street is the ability for motorists to speed. So that’s why we have we have serious concerns.”

City Councilman Mike Seekings chairman of the Traffic and Transportation Committee says speeding is not the problem and by widening the street it will allow more access to everyone.

“Right now, it is completely nonfunctional as a quote on quote two-lane road. It is not a two lane. It is a one-lane road and we’re going to give that lane a little bit of relief. Allows for buses to get through,” Seekings said. “Allow for delivery vehicles to get through. Allow for pedestrians to be safe on the sidewalk allow multimodallism which I’ve said from day one, every street in the city must be multimodal.”

Zimmerman says talks about dictating bike lanes on St Philip Street is just that.

“And what we’ve learned about that is SCDOT is not going to do that. That’s not going to be part of the project. So, it’s that would be a separate city project,” Zimmerman said. “No design is yet no design exists. No funding has been allocated for that. So, it’s sort of an interesting thing to dangle in front of the public that, you know, it would be great to have in addition to improving King Street.”

Seekings says the plan is about balance and making sure the design works for everyone who enjoys King Street.

“Two-way cycle track or two-way bike lanes on St Philip’s Street and not put that extra burden pressure on the bicyclists who want to be in peaceable segregated lanes on King Street, Seekings said. So that’s the plan is it’s going to come forward. We think it’s a good plan. It’s also a plan that balances safety which is number one.”

The meeting will also be held virtually for those who cannot attend in person. A good way for community members to prepare for the meeting is by reviewing the Charleston people pedal plan which explains the vision for all modes of travel.