Pedaling a bike to school, to work or on errands is healthy, inexpensive and friendly to the environment. Getting there and finding no place to leave a bike is a problem.
The city of Charleston is finding that the most obvious solution — locking the bike to a sign or parking meter — isn’t the best. On sidewalks, they block pedestrians and they can slip and damage cars parked adjacent to them.
So city officials are trying to find another approach. On the stretch of King Street between Calhoun and Spring streets, parking bicycles will be banned from sidewalks. Instead, the city is directing bikers to use any of five nearby “bike corrals” on King Street, which accommodate 10 bikes each, or bike racks.
The pilot project will be carried out over a year to determine if it works.
It is going to take some adjustment on the part of cyclists who are accustomed to parking within a spoke’s length of their destinations.
But it is reasonable to expect sidewalks to be clear for ... well, walking on the side of streets.
It is also reasonable to expect the city to provide enough convenient bicycle parking that bikers will comply. Otherwise, they might get fed up and decide to drive gas-using, emissions-producing cars instead.
The city’s aim should be to encourage people to bicycle and walk.
Bike racks on the campus of the College of Charleston and at the Charleston School of Law can help a lot. Many of the cyclists in the designated area are their students.
Wisely, city police don’t plan to pull out their citation books and start confiscating bikes right away. They understand it will take some education — just as it continues to take education for bicyclists and motorists to share streets.
With a little effort on the part of bicyclists and the city and with patience on the part of pedestrians, neighbors and businesses, the trend toward bicycling can continue — and the sidewalks can be clear for pedestrians.
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