“No tour is worth a life"-Possible changes coming to downtown walking tours

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - City leaders said Tuesday that proposed changes to walking tours in downtown Charleston could make the city safer.

The Charleston City Council will hear a new ordinance on Tuesday that would make it illegal for tour groups in downtown Charleston to block the sidewalk or roadway.

The ordinance states, “tour groups of any size shall not obstruct or otherwise inhibit the free, safe and efficient flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic on any public right-of-way.”

Dan Riccio is the Director of Livability and Tourism for the City of Charleston and said this has been a safety issue.

“No tour is worth a life,” Riccio said. “It’s been common among tour groups that are conducting tours on the right of way their patrons in the group kind of mingle in the roadway with incoming traffic and block sidewalks which makes people leave the sidewalk into the roadway.”

Riccio said the city has received complaints of people not being able to walk down a sidewalk when a tour is going on. He said his officers have also witnessed it.

“They do see it and they’ve actually been challenged by some tour operators that they’re allowed to do it so we need it to address that,” Riccio said.

If this ordinance is approved, anyone violates this rule they could face a $1,087 fine. Riccio said this would clear up any misunderstanding that blocking a roadway is not a smart thing to do.

The owner of Charleston Footprints Walking Tour said he thinks this ordinance is excessive.

Michael Trouche said there are people walking on sidewalks all the time. He also said in his case, the tour is only stopped for less than a minute before moving on to the next location. Trouche said he doesn’t agree with that there should be a big fine for this but said he will abide by this and make sure it’s not a problem.

The council could give preliminary approval on Tuesday. It would still need a second and final reading.

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