Charleston tests bike lane from West Ashley to downtown

Published: Apr. 4, 2016 at 9:26 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 4, 2016 at 11:08 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Bikers are one step closer to having a safe way to ride from West Ashley to downtown Charleston.

For the next few weeks, drivers heading northbound on the Ashley River Bridge will notice one of the four lanes is blocked off with cones.

Charleston county and city officials will be watching closely to see if it causes traffic backups.

If it doesn't cause traffic problem, it will likely be transitioned into a permanent bike path.

Monday morning and evening was the first look at how a test bike path fared through rush hour.

"Seeing it not cause congestion, not cause carmaggedon, as we call it - is a good thing," said Kurt Cavanaugh, the executive director of Charleston Moves, a local bike advocacy group.

Charleston bike advocates have been pushing for a safe and efficient bike lane on the bridge for years.

"It's vital to the livability of this city," said Cavanaugh.

While some residents have been worried that losing a lane will cause traffic, others believe it will do the opposite and actually encourage more people to bike to work.

A study done in 2015 estimated that 1,500 hundred daily trips would be made on foot or on bike if there was a bike path on the Ashley River Bridge.

As it stands now, there is no safe way for bicyclists  to get to and from the two areas. Cyclists are forced to ride in the road or the raised pathway on the bridge.

"It's very narrow, it's a maintenance walkway that was never built as a real sidewalk," says Cavanaugh.

The money to fund a bike path was allocated by Charleston County in 2013. It will cost just over one million dollars to transition the lane into a proper and safe bike lane, raised from the road.

If approved, construction will begin sometime this year.

Proponents of the bike lane are hosting a "Bridge the Ashley" rally on April 11 at 6 pm. They're having it in front of Charleston City Hall to get the attention of county and city officials. Organizers hope to persuade official to eliminate the test period and move to creating the lane as a permanent bike path as soon as possible.

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