MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) — Since 2010 there have been 2,187 pedestrian and bicycle crashes reported in the Tri-County. Experts believe the number of collisions is much higher than what’s actually reported to law enforcement. Through a records request, the News 2 I-Team found the number of walkers and bikers dying from collisions is quickly climbing.
According to a report released to News 2 by the Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester Council of Governments, the number of people being hit by cars is startling and increasing. The report found a 10 percent increase in pedestrian deaths between 2014 and 2015. There was a 13 percent increase in bike rider deaths.
Some 60 percent of people polled through the COG said they want to ride a bike or walk, but they are just too scared to risk it.
“It is incredible dangerous,” Goose Creek mayor Michael Heitzle told the I-Team. “I wouldn’t say that months ago.”
He started riding his bike for exercise and realized the risks.
According to data the I-Team requested from the Berkeley County Coroner, there have been three deaths in three years in Goose Creek. There was one on College Park Road; Liberty Hall Road; and one on Red Bank Road.
“We have a lot of work to do,” the mayor said. “This problem will only get worse.”
In records News 2 obtained from our local coroners for the last three years, we found 69 people died along our roads walking or biking. Most of the deadly wrecks, a total of 21, happened in North Charleston.
“We’ve got to make it safer,” Mayor Summey told the I-Team when presented with the data. “It’s probably in my top 10 projects,” Mayor Summey said.
Statewide, the death toll is higher this year than all of last year. From the beginning of the year through October 23, 115 pedestrians and another 20 bicyclists died on state roads and highways.
Part of the problem is a lack of connectivity. Sidewalks end abruptly. There are miles of road with no place to safely cross.
“We need to look at where the gaps are so we can gear the funding and hit those big high impact areas,” Vonie Gilreath, Council of Governments, told the I-Team. “We are looking at the urban and the rural because they are moving closer together.“
Part of the study commission by the COG found making communities more walkable increased tourism revenue by nearly 84-million dollars; had more than a quarter-million dollar impact on health and the environment and the value of homes across the region would increase nearly three million dollars.
As part of the COG study, they are holding a series of public meetings.