Bicycle lane on the James Island Connector could cost $3.6 million, study says

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC – A meeting was held Tuesday for the City of Charleston Traffic and Transportation Committee to hear from the public about a new way to accommodate bikers on the James Island Connector.

Right now there’s currently no legal way to walk or ride your bike from downtown Charleston to James Island.

The city recently hired a company, Strantec Consulting Services Inc., to conduct a study to see how a bike lane could safely work on a side the connector. Click here to read the full study.

The study says the improvements needed to make a connector bike lane work would cost over $3.6 million dollars.

Lance Davis is a physician downtown and an avid cyclist who sometimes rides from James Island into downtown Charleston. David told News 2, “I feel very safe when I ride the connector; cars to go fast, but it has a very wide shoulder.”

Davis believes the City of Charleston should re-open the connector for cyclists. “I’ve been cycling it for years and I’ve never felt unsafe on the connector. It’s safer than a lot of other roads in Charleston,” said Davis.

Kurt Cavanaugh is the Executive Director of Charleston Moves and addressed the Traffic and Transportation Committee Tuesday night, saying the new bicycle safety analysis on the connector doesn’t address all key issues for riders. Cavansaugh explained, “Unfortunately the connector has been closed to people on their bicycles since 2012 when there was an unfortunate collision and fatality because of a driver who was not paying attention and killed a cyclist…We should be spending money, and a lot less than what is proposed, on keeping the cyclists from being hit by cars in the first place.” Cavanugh and some other city officials believe a barrier between the motorists and cyclists is a better solution than raising the exterior rails.

The analysis revealed some of the ways to ensure safety for cyclists, is to lower the speed limit from 55 miles per hour to 45 miles per hour. They would also need additional lighting, higher rail extensions and additional signage for the cyclists.

Right now officials estimate the changes would cost the city $3.6 million dollars.

Charleston City Councilman and Chair of the Traffic and Transportation Committee, Bill Moody, pointed out that the SCDOT is in charge of changing the speed limit, not the city. Moody said he thinks there’s a cheaper solution for this problem. “It didn’t make a lot of sense. It was a lot of money. $3.6 million and $1.6 of that was to build railings,” said Moody. “We had a lot of bikers here; people that ride their bikes all over the community, and they said they felt safe on this road.”

Tonight, we asked our News 2 viewers on social media if they would feel safe riding a bike across the James Island Connector.

Out of the people surveyed, 79% of the people who took the survey said they would not feel safe.

City officials say now that they have public input, they’ll speak with their legal staff. In February, they may bring the issue back to the Traffic and Transportation Committee with some new input on the study.

 

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