Summerville wants to add to its reputation as an attractive place to live by seeking national certification as a bicycle-friendly town.
Town officials are working toward meeting the standards set forth by the League of American Bicyclists to earn the organization's designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community.
"It would be a feather in the town's cap and advertise Summerville's quality of life by letting people know that alternative modes of transportation are welcome," said Mark Greenslit, chairman of the town's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.
He's also president of the Greater Summerville Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition and said the group's goal is "to make Summerville a better place to walk and ride a bike."
The League of American Bicyclists announces new additions to its list each fall and spring. Within South Carolina, only Columbia, Spartanburg and Greenville have earned recognition from the group.
Greenslit thinks the certification could encourage new residents to move to the area and might bring in a few guests.
"Bed-and-breakfast visitors might want to ride around in a safe community," he said.
The application focuses on five standards: evaluation and planning, education, enforcement, engineering and encouragement.
Town engineer Russ Cornette said the next application deadline is in January and that he thinks Summerville's strongest areas might be engineering and enforcement.
Ordinances have been passed in recent years that dictate bicycle parking must be made available for new commercial construction.
"And if there's a new road to be built, then sidewalks have to be built on both sides," he said.
He said upcoming road improvements on Dorchester Road and the next phase of the Berlin G. Myers Parkway will include sidewalks.
Cornette pointed out that the Sawmill Branch hiking/biking trail accounts for more than eight miles of multipurpose trail winding its way through Summerville, and there are plans to add another mile to loop around the Jerry Blackwell Sports Complex near the Gahagan subdivision. Also, two of the town's major roads, Old Trolley and Ladson, were widened with bicycle lanes.
Cornette said one of the trickiest problems in the effort is retrofitting older parts of town with sidewalks where roads might not have been designed with pedestrians in mind. A more fundamental problem is acquiring funds for wanted projects.
"There's no money in the general budget (for sidewalks)," he said. "We rely 100 percent on enhancement funds for new sidewalks."
Over the past few years, Cornette said the town has been able to secure about $100,000 in grants each year. He said that usually is enough for about one mile of sidewalk or multipurpose path, but none of the funds can be used for repair and maintenance of existing walkways.
As far as the evaluation and planning criteria of the application, the town could benefit from some outside assistance.
"We have a Clemson graduate student who has taken on putting together a master plan for the town," Cornette said. "It will be a guide to use for future planning. It will be ready by the spring and cost the town nothing."
When it comes to the education and encouragement part of the application, Cornette said that might require private cycling groups such as Greenslit's to take the initiative to spread the word.
Greenslit, an avid cyclist, runner and walker, said he rides his bike about three or four times a week.
"I use the bicycle to run short errands or pick up my daughter from preschool," he said. "I average about 100 miles per week."
From his experience, he said he thinks Summerville already is on its way toward becoming a Bicycle Friendly Community.
"I think Summerville is generally favorable (toward cyclists). I've had very few adverse interactions with motorists," he said. "This is a process of changing attitudes toward cycling.
"I think we're moving in the right direction."
Reach Bill Henley at 937-5433 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bicycle lanes on both sides of Old Trolley Road in Summerville are part of the town's plan to provide easier travel for alternative modes of transportation.×
Bicycle racks, such as this one outside Azalea Square on Main Street, are mandatory for the planning of new shopping areas in Summerville.×
Mark Greenslit, chairman of the town of Summerville Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee and president of the Greater Summerville Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition, estimates that he rides about 100 miles per week through the streets of Summerville and on the×