Officials working to make Charleston safer for cyclists

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - In an effort to make people safer as they travel downtown, Charleston city officials are in the process of making some changes.

You’ll notice things like “Share Road” markings on certain roads where a lot of bikes and cars share the roadway.

Crews are working to add 161 markings. Officials are also looking at places to add more bicycle infrastructure, like designated bike lanes. It’s all in an effort to make our area safer and more accessible.

“I got a bike mostly because parking downtown is terrible,” Sophia Sunderhaus, a resident of downtown Charleston, said.

Sunderhaus adds getting a bike was a great decision but biking downtown is questionable.

“First time I rode I was terrified,” Sunderhaus said. “Even now when I ride it’s nerve-racking to see the cars coming up behind you, driving really fast – they don’t really care about the bikes too much.”

“Our pedestrian death index rating is higher than cities like Chicago and LA and D.C. and Baltimore which are bigger than us,” Keith Benjamin, Charleston’s Director of Traffic and Transportation, said. “In terms of statewide – both the city of Charleston and Charleston County have one of the highest rates of pedestrian/bike deaths and injuries in the state.”

And that’s the main reason officials are looking at making roadways safer. They’ve already started adding “Share Road” markings on roads that are heavily traveled by cars and bikes. But then comes the question about easing congestion.

“We have some bike infrastructure around the city – but definitely not enough,” Benjamin said.

One way officials are looking at where to add more things, like bike lanes, is keeping track of where people are taking Holy Spokes bikes.

“I think coming off of the Ravenel Bridge onto East Bay is one of the ones we see,” Benjamin said. “Another one is on Calhoun Street going toward the water. Of course along Murray Blvd down near the Battery. But also in the upper peninsula.”

There’s no timetable on when we could start seeing more bicycle infrastructure. But those who live downtown say they would like it sooner rather than later.

"That would be best,” Sunderhaus said. “Just so no one gets hurt, no tourists get hurt, no citizens get hurt riding their bikes. Plus it would be awful if someone who was driving their car to accidentally hit someone on a bike."

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